Saturday, April 5
The fight yet to come
Ed Vulliamy in New York and Kamal Ahmed in London, The Observer, April 6, 2003
Another struggle is gripping Washington - the one that will shape the future of Iraq. Bush's inner circle is fighting to gain his ear, and the result of this contest will have an impact even greater than that of the war
At Hillsborough Castle near Belfast tomorrow, President George W Bush will sit down with Tony Blair to discuss phases two and three of the conflict in Iraq. With confidence growing that the military campaign is coming to a conclusion, all eyes are refocusing on the political aftermath. If the coalition of the willing thought the military campaign was difficult to plan for, the opportunity for elephant traps ahead is growing.
Already there is talk of splits and tensions. The US Defence Department, under Donald Rumsfeld, would like an American-dominated interim administration. Colin Powell and his staff at the State Department realise that a broad coalition of international interests and the United Nations will need to be involved. Condoleezza Rice, Bush's National Security Adviser who speaks daily to Tony Blair's foreign policy chief, Sir David Manning, has also promoted a 'UN-endorsed' route allied to ultimate American leadership. Each is playing a game of cat and mouse, a feint here, a jab there, to try to ensure that their scheme comes out on top.
The British Government insists that there is still a huge amount to negotiate and almost all issues 'are up for discussion'. ... ... The Pentagon's list of people who could run the interim administration, including the hardline hawk and former CIA head, James Woolsey, which was revealed in leaked documents last week, brought signs of exasperation from this side of the Atlantic.
'It was a convenient leak,' said one Whitehall official. 'They put their names out and then it's up to everyone else to debate that plan rather than other options. But that is all it was, an option. Nothing has been settled.' [...]
A colony of potential US administrators has assembled in waiting, along a stretch of Kuwaiti seaside villas, speaking well or not-so-well of the man regarded as the real architect of the new order, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy to Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, or 'Wolfowitz of Arabia' as he's been dubbed.
But Washington itself is riven over these arrangements, with hostility again spilling over between Powell and Rumsfeld, as in the lead-off to war. [...]