Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz took some heat last week when he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The President had just announced that he needed $87 billion to finance postwar military operations--most of which, $66 billion, would fund the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. Wolfowitz's questioners wanted an explanation. "You told Congress in March that, quote, 'we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction--and relatively soon,'" said Senator Carl Levin. "Talk about rosy scenarios!" Indeed, the architects of the Pentagon's postwar-Iraq plans were guided by several key assumptions that haven't panned out.
OIL WOULD FUND RECONSTRUCTION
Although war planners knew that Iraq's oil infrastructure would need fixing, they drastically underestimated just how much. In March, Wolfowitz told Congress that Iraq would generate anywhere from $50 billion to $100 billion in oil revenues over the first two to three years. Now it turns out that the ramshackle oil industry (much of its technology dates back to the 1970s) will make hardly any money this year from exporting oil, and only $12 billion next year. From 2005 onward, oil revenues could pull in $20 billion a year, but that would require buoyant oil prices and a halt to the widespread sabotage of wells and pipelines.
Oil production isn't the only problem. The Pentagon's plans assumed that Iraq's industrial base and utilities were in working order. Instead, they're in a sorry state. And without basic utilities, factories aren't generating very much of anything--including badly needed jobs that would help win hearts and minds. The new Electricity Minister, Ayham al-Samaraie, estimates it will cost $18 billion just to fix the power grid.
IRAQI TROOPS WOULD HELP KEEP THE PEACE
A large American peacekeeping deployment in Iraq was the last thing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wanted when he was planning the war. He and his deputy, Wolfowitz, hoped to bolster postwar security by redeploying elements of Iraq's 400,000 troops to supplement the relatively small invading force. With Saddam gone, the plan was for Iraq's civil servants and police to step in to help run the country while a U.S.-chosen governing council handled the nitty-gritty of administration until democracy blossomed.