I'm beginning to change my "no" answer on this. This seems pretty close to it.
U.S. Plans for Two-Year Occupation of Iraq
|2 hours, 16 minutes ago|
By Jonathan Wright
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials on Tuesday laid out plans for a two-year military occupation of Iraq in the event of an invasion and told wary senators that "enormous uncertainties" made it impossible to say whether troops might stay even longer or how much it would all cost.
Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the military and civilian administrators after a U.S. invasion would report to Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Pressed for an idea of how long a military occupation would last before Iraqis could take back the government of their country, his colleague from the State Department, Marc Grossman, said he would guess "two years."
But the two officials, at a hearing called to discuss the future of Iraq, said they did not know how the United States would manage the Iraqi oil industry, who would cover the costs of reconstruction if oil installations are damaged in the invasion or how they would install a democratic government.
"How this transition will take place is perhaps opaque at the moment. Hopefully there will be people who come up and want to be part of the government," Grossman said.
"There are enormous uncertainties," added Feith. "The most you can do in planning is develop concepts... That's our problem. We have been thinking this through as precisely as we can, given the uncertainties."
Some of the senators expressed incredulity at the state of the Bush administration's planning and several said they regretted Senate approval last year of military action.
"There is no informed consent. The American people have no notion of what we are about to undertake. They believe it will be swift and successful and largely bloodless," said Joseph Biden of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the committee.
"It's going to be expensive and it's going to take a long, long time. It's better to lay that out now," said Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat.
The Republican chairman of the committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, also faulted the administration for its belated and incomplete planning. "Oil will not go away until you make clear how you will manage the oilfields. It needs to be finalized urgently," he added.
OPPOSITION IN EXILE
The U.S. officials repeated assurances that oil revenues under the military occupation would pay the costs of the Iraqi people's needs and would be the property of all Iraqis.
But Feith said: "The administration has not yet decided on the organizational mechanisms by which this sector should be operated. We shall be consulting on this important matter."
Grossman dealt another blow to the aspirations of the Iraqi opposition in exile, which has been jockeying for advantage in the hope that the United States will overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites ) in the next few weeks.
He said the Iraqi opposition in exile would not be allowed to control decisions for all Iraqis. "While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest of the United States," he added.
The officials denied that a desire to control Iraqi oil played any part in the U.S. motivation for an invasion, which they justify as the best way to rid the country of alleged chemical and biological weapons.
But Feith, once part of a pro-Israeli lobbying group that has been pressing for the overthrow of Saddam for years, said a U.S. occupation could benefit Israel and Middle East peace.
"The Saddam Hussein regime provides support to Palestinian terrorist groups who are blocking any hope for progress toward Arab-Israeli peace," he said.
"If it is possible to ... encourage the creation of democratic institutions in Iraq, one effect of that would be to inspire Palestinians to create for themselves democratic institutions that would help create the kind of interlocutor for the Israelis that could make serious progress toward peace much more realistic," he added.
But Biden said Iraqi assistance to Palestinian groups was insignificant compared to that of Iran or Syria.
Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, told the same hearing that any Iraqi government favorable to Israel would not last long.
"By changing the government in Iraq, you don't change the attitude on these (Arab-Israeli) issues. No one could succeed in governance by having this pro-American, pro-Israeli ... approach in this environment today," he said.