Daniel Drezner joins the “What were they thinking?” bandwagon with respect to the decision to announce that no contracts will be given to those who didn’t support that war. He links a terrific piece by Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan in today’s Standard:
President Bush, we suspect, is going to overrule the Pentagon’s attempt to exclude from the bidding for Iraq reconstruction contracts certain countries that have opposed U.S. policy in Iraq. He might as well do it sooner rather than later, so as to minimize the diplomatic damage done by the Pentagon’s heavy-handed and counterproductive action.
We hold no brief for the Chirac, Schroeder, or Putin governments. We are also very much in favor of finding ways to work more closely with other governments — such as those of Britain, Spain and Poland — who have courageously stood with us, and who hold the promise of continuing to be more helpful to us. We have even been critical of the Bush Administration for a certain lack of imagination in finding ways to work constructively with these friendly governments. But this particular effort by the Pentagon to reward friends and punish enemies is stupid, and should be abandoned.
A deviously smart American administration would have quietly distributed contracts for rebuilding Iraq as it saw fit, without any announced policy of discrimination. At the end of the day, it would be clear that opponents of American policy didn’t fare too well in the bidding process. Message delivered, but with a certain subtlety.