[Update, 4/9/03: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay announced April 8 that the measure to punish the French and others will be stripped from the war spending bill during House-Senate Conference discussion of it. I hope so. Meanwhile I am leaving this post on my website, until the withdrawal of the measure is official.]

The war is now a fact. It is time to think ahead to the peace, and the imminent question: to what extent will the UN play a role in administering post-war Iraq?

As reported by the Washington Post on 2/20/03, "The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq." Nevertheless, at a meeting with NATO members on April 3, Colin Powell, according to the Orange County Register (4/4/03), the US, while playing a leading role, would envisage a UN presence, if only to supervise the flow of humanitarian aid to Iraq. Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the BBC that "The coalition forces will make the country safe, and will work with the United Nations to help Iraq get back on its feet."

Many in Washington can see the advantages of a UN role. An occupying US force is much more likely to be shot at than a UN force, even if the US is part of that UN force. A UN collaboration with the US would also create a better milieu to tamp down the emerging conflicts, which threaten to become serious, between the US and European countries over Iraq's future.

But at least one little-noticed step has been taken which may tilt the US towards a unilateral role. It is a budget amendment moved from the floor of the US House of Representatives, and passed by a show of hands, which would preclude France, Germany, Russia and Syria from taking part in US-funded reconstruction bids in Iraq.

I found the details in the following story from Agence France-Presse, which in my mind deserves wider distribution and opposition:

AFP: US bans France, Russia from rebuilding Iraq (Washington, April 4, 2003)

"The House of Representatives has passed a supplementary budget amendment excluding France, Germany, Russia and Syria from taking part in US-funded reconstruction bids in Iraq, because they opposed the US-led war in Iraq.

"Proposed by Minnesota congressman Mark Kennedy, a Republican unrelated to the famous Kennedy clan, and passed by show of hands, the measure would even bar access by the four countries to information on reconstruction bids in Iraq.

"The Kennedy amendment stipulated `that none of the funds made available in the bill for reconstruction efforts in Iraq may be used to procure goods or services from any entity that includes information on a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) that indicates that such entity is organised under the laws of France, Germany, the Russian Federation, or Syria.'"

A more nuanced account of the same story also appeared in the Washington Post, 4/4/03.