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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Rebuilding Iraq When the Shooting Ceases

March 21, 2003

In "We Have a Winner" (Commentary, March 19), Arianna Huffington omits a crucial point: Long-term financing for Iraqi reconstruction. As Huffington notes, the initial contracts will be funded by the U.S. taxpayer, and those contracts will be awarded to a select few companies. However, once the U.S. military grabs control of Iraq's oil, the funds generated by the sale of Iraqi oil will be deposited in an escrow account that will be American-controlled -- and used to finance the long-term reconstruction.

So, the situation may be: The U.S. government awards oil contracts to American oil companies to sell Iraqi oil in the U.S. The oil royalties will be used to pay for the rebuilding. The contracts will be awarded to primarily U.S. and British companies. If readers still doubt that oil is a reason for war, then note that on Tuesday, President Bush's advisor for Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, warned the northern Kurds not to attempt to take over the Mosul and Kirkuk oil fields.

Arch Miller

Arcadia

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Though no particular fan of free markets when it comes to American consumers choosing SUVs over smaller cars, Huffington nonetheless criticizes the Bush administration for a "free markets be damned" attitude because it has closed to a finite number of large American corporations the bidding on contracts to rebuild post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Alleging cronyism and continuing her tiresome corporate-bashing, Huffington condemns the administration for steering business to these big American companies and suggests the U.N. should instead make such rebuilding decisions. If she's upset because the French, Germans and Russians will miss out on possible reconstruction profits, she needn't worry. They've already made out like bandits selling Hussein the sophisticated technologies that sustain his arsenal. Those refusing to help us stop the murderous Hussein now deserve no role in building a democratic Iraq later.

Darren McKinney

Washington

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