] The lack of competition harms the U.S.'s claim to be Iraq's
] liberator. Rather than championing justice, the U.S. appears to
] be engaged in the colonial enterprise of propping up domestic
] industry through foreign engagements.
. . .
] In addition, the United States Agency for International
] Development (USAID) awarded what will probably be the largest
] contract of all - the main Iraqi reconstruction contract - to the
] San Francisco firm Bechtel, a company with deep Republican ties.
] The award was the result of secret bidding among only a few
] American companies that had been invited to participate. Many
] (perhaps all) of the bidders had given significant campaign
] contributions in recent years, the bulk of which went to
] Republican candidates. The contract was for an initial
] $34.6 million, but could grow up to $680 million over the
] next 18 months.
] The result of these compromised processes is likely that U.S.
] taxpayers paid too much, and Iraqis will not receive the best
] reconstruction services possible. After all, firms with extensive
] experience in Iraqi construction (including European and Egyptian
] firms) were shut out of the process. And it will appear to many
] that cronyism, rather than ability, seems to have been the
] decisive factor when it comes to the Halliburton and Bechtel
It is my hope that the current "selective bidding" process is temporary, with the main advantage of speed in getting the ball rolling rather than requiring a lengthy review process with a large number of bids from different countries -- In other words, I believe it's more important to go in there and get things started rapidly, since many services are currently in a shambles and we just don't have the luxury of sifting through for the "perfect" contract while people are suffering in the short-term. As things stabilize though, I do believe it would be prudent to allow more international involvement in the Iraqi reconstruction process, and especially to ensure that the longterm (or permanent) contracts are not all exclusively American.