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U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) Holds a Hearing on Iraq Reconstruction

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

COMMITTEE: SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

HEADLINE: U.S. SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN) HOLDS HEARING ON IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION

SPEAKER:
U.S. SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN), CHAIRMAN

LOCATION: WASHINGTON, D.C.

WITNESSES:

DR. JOHN HAMRE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
DR. ROBERT ORR, COMMISSION ON POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION
FREDERICK BARTON, COMMISSION ON POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION
DR. JOHANNA MENDELSON-FORMAN, COMMISSION ON POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION
BATHSHEBA CROCKER, COMMISSION ON POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION
ANTHONY BORDEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR WAR AND PEACE REPORTING, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

BODY:
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS HOLDS HEARING ON
IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION
 
SPEAKERS:
U.S. SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN)
CHAIRMAN
U.S. SENATOR CHARLES HAGEL (R-NE)
U.S. SENATOR LINCOLN D. CHAFEE (R-RI)
U.S. SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA)
U.S. SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS)
U.S. SENATOR MICHAEL B. ENZI (R-WY)
U.S. SENATOR GEORGE V. VOINOVICH (R-OH)
U.S. SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN)
U.S. SENATOR NORM COLEMAN (R-MN)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN E. SUNUNU (R-NH)
 
U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. (D-DE)
RANKING MEMBER
U.S. SENATOR PAUL S. SARBANES (D-MD)
U.S. SENATOR CHRISTOPHER J. DODD (D-CT)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY (D-MA)
U.S. SENATOR RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD (D-WI)
U.S. SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D-CA)
U.S. SENATOR BILL NELSON (D-FL)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV (D-WV)

BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I apologize to the witnesses for being a few minutes late.

I'm going to begin by saying, Mr. Hamre, I think your report and that of your colleagues is first rate, absolutely first rate. And I compliment the secretary on asking you to undertake this.

Coincidentally, the three of us in the middle here were on the ground almost in the same time frame that you were. And it will not surprise you, speaking for myself, but I think my colleagues, our conclusions we reached were very similar to the ones you've reached. And the committee report is forthcoming. I think you'll find it mirrors your report.

I'd also like to suggest that, with the chairman's permission, we left (inaudible) behind for eight days, two senior staff members, the senior Republican staff member handling this area, as well as a senior Democratic staff member. And again, their eight days on the ground and extensive interviews that they had and they went back on their own back into the country and had wide ranging freedom to move about, although they were in peril like all of you were and everyone is who wanders around that country right now, particular Baghdad. And they reached the same conclusions basically.

We have in my view, a very first rate team in Iraq helping people like—not like, Ambassador Crocker, who I think is one of the finest people we have in our foreign service. Walt Stockholm (ph), serious player from the Defense Department and a truly professional team working with them including the former commission of New York and a number of people who I have dealt with at length in my dozen visits, literally, into Bosnia and Kosovo over the previous six or eight years. We have a considerable learning curb that we've already turned on in terms of police forces.

And so we have some very, very serious people there and unfortunately, it seems to me, it's painfully obvious that their job is made all that much harder by the fact that the planning for the aftermath of the war started much too late and was based on some deeply flawed assumptions.

I think unless we examine some of the assumptions that the rebuilding of Iraq was based upon that we now know were inaccurate, it's going to be kind of hard to figure out exactly what we should be doing, it seems to me. We were told that Iraq would inherit a fully function government. That the ministries would be fully operational in a short time after they have been decapitated of Bath leadership, that the military would be basically intact after being decapitated at the general level of Baathist party members and that the police forces remain on the job.

Well, in fact, none of occurred for whatever reasons, none of that is in place. We're also told that we would have a quick ramp up of oil production and then we could basically the impression was we could pack up and go home, because all of this would be up and running.

Now, a number of people led by the chairman of the committee and by very different folks from uniform military, General Shinseki to a whole range of other people. We thought—and this committee's held extensive hearings—thought it'd be a lot more difficult. And that many of those assumptions were not based upon what a lot of the experts we were talking to were telling us on both sides of the aisle.

There was a pretty consistent message we kept getting in this committee that things would be different. And there are some things none of us anticipated in my view, at least I didn't. I didn't anticipate just how badly broken the Iraqi infrastructure was. I didn't realize how badly treated and/or maintained the oil fields were, separate and apart from the fact that we've miraculously worked our military so that they were not destroyed. They were already in many ways destroyed in ways that we didn't anticipate.

My purpose today is not to dwell on the past, but focus our attention on the realities, which I think is what your report did. And law and order, especially in Baghdad which is collapsed, the electricity, water, fuel supplies that remain unreliable and temperatures as high as 120 degrees, it's not like having those things having to occur in an area where the mean temperature is 80 degrees. And on top of it all, we lack, in my view, a public information strategy to communicate with the Iraqis.

I would note, Mr. Chairman, I found it fascinating today and tried to call the secretary that we were in demand on the part of the Iraqi people to be shown that Saddam's sons were killed, we're talking about disseminating photographs. Why in Lord's name wouldn't we let Al-Jazeera television or anybody come and look at this? I don't know whether people over there seem to understand. We are not believed. We are not believed when we lay out these things in our own terms.

And so, there's an awful lot to do in stabilization of that country and in order to be able to begin to do what every American wants to do is share the cost and bring our troops home. Bring them home more rapidly than we otherwise would have to.

We have, it seems to me, three choices. One, we continue to bear the burden ourselves, deploy additional forces that are needed, spend the tens of billions of dollars for reconstruction out of our own treasury and maintain, again, the carrying of 90 plus percent of the cost. We can do that.

We can figure out a way to internationalize this to get other people to take on part of the burden, take on part of the cost and remind everyone with this committee, reminded everyone for the last year and plus that the first Gulf War, we only paid about 20 percent of the total cost of that war. We only paid about 20 percent. Everyone from the Japanese to the EU to the Arab states came in and picked up the bill.

We're paying it all now, virtually. And so there seems to be a lacking of a game plan or a will to figure out how to internationalize this and get everybody in on the deal. As you point out, folks are going to want to know, Mr. Hamre, what this provisional government's going to look like. How legitimate is it before they decide in this donor conference they're prepared to jump in.

Well, part of that is, I've never found people being very receptive to being able to pick up the check without having to pick up, at least have some say of what's on the menu, having some say about what's going on in the country. I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that that's going to happen.

We have third option. One, do it all ourselves; two, try to internationalize this in the broadest sense of those words without losing control; or three, just decide that—which I predict will happen if we don't start to get things in order pretty quickly—decide that we're going to put an a Iraqi provisional government in power, we're going to basically try to turn it over to the UN, we're going to try to bring folks home and get out of there and leave the circumstances, I think, would be a prescription for absolute total chaos, absolute total chaos.

And so, the thing that I most welcome about your report is to start desertion and I'm paraphrasing, that we have a relatively narrow window and I want to make sure that I characterize it correctly from reading your report. The narrow window is not whether we can get anything done, the narrow window is, we have a narrow window in which to convince the Iraqi people that we in fact are part of their salvation and not their problem. That if, in my view, 60 to 90 days from now, conditions have not markedly changed on the ground as it relates to security, as it relates to basic services, particularly electricity, as it relates to police forces on the ground. Then I think we're going to find ourselves in a tough spot.

Serious polling has been done showing that the Iraqi people are prepared to give us the vast majority between six months and two years to begin to get this right. They want us to stay. They want us to stay. That's the part and some good things are happening. Some good things are happening on the ground over there, but I think we have a fairly narrow window.

And the last point I want to make is this and I want to talk to you about this. You mentioned oil. One thing the chairman spoke about last July, August, September, October, November in his straightforward, traditional, conservative, insightful way was how are we going to set up an economy. Remember we kept saying that? What's going to be the economy?

As my grandfather would say, what horse is going to carry the sleigh? What's the horse that's going to carry the sleigh? And we keep being told or implied that don't worry, Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, that can do the job.

I want to make it clear to everybody what we were told in Baghdad by our persons on the ground and I can't remember the man's name.

(UNKNOWN): Phil Carroll.

BIDEN: Carroll, Phil Carroll who's a serious oilman, appointed to get that oil industry up and running. My recollection is that he said that everything goes as planned without any serious interruption of oil flow through sabotage and investments in the fields continue. That over the next 18 months we may generate up to $16 to $18 billion in revenues.

Now, one little thing; we are handed by our folks over there are going to train Iraqi police forces, telling us that they need now a minimum of 5,000 trained police officers from Europe or other parts of the world on the ground now to allow them to maintain order and to train.

One year budget for that operation is $725,023,000.00. So, almost three quarters of a billion dollars, just for one year to maintain a total of roughly 6,000 trainers and police officers on the ground. And we're paying $4 billion a month just to maintain U.S. forces on the ground. That's just to get some sense of proportion.

So, if anybody thinks that we're going to "be able to rebuild Iraq" not pay for any of our stuff, rebuild Iraq with Iraqi resources over the next 18 months, they're kidding themselves, because, you laid out, we have $6 billion that is on hand now. We're going to have max, $14 to $16 billion the next 18 months in oil, based on everything we've been told. And we're hoping for the donors' conference. That requires us to focus on the thing the chairman talked about last October and what to do about Iraqi debt.

And so the point I want to make is, I hope we start to get rational and reasonable about how urgent this is, how badly we need others in on the deal to help carry a lot of this burden and how much that requires us to have a patina of sort of a legitimacy that I think that can only come through the United Nations, NATO, the EU, and the Arab nations as to the government that we are helping put in place to be chosen by the Iraqi people ultimately.

And I think your report is a first rate contribution to alerting us to, A, we're going to need more money; B, the window is pretty narrow; C, it's going to take a long time; and D, we better get underway.

And so, I have specific questions when we get to that, but again, I want to compliment you. I think it's a first rate report and it's one heck of a starting point. When I heard you say as I came in, your statement is that you're being listened to and I hope you can, in your weighing in, you will help settle the ongoing debate within this administration about which way to go in terms of what we do from this point on.

Again, I thank you. I thank you for the time Mr. Chairman and I will wait until we get to questions to pursue some of the things I'd like to talk about.

LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Biden.

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