- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2002

Czech summit success

Czech Ambassador Martin Palous is reaping praise around Washington for the success of last month's NATO summit in the Czech capital, Prague, but is modestly giving the credit to his predecessor.

"Wherever I go in Washington these days, I am told that the summit was a spectacular success," he said in the latest Czech Embassy newsletter.

"But in this particular case, the Czech organizers of the event, particularly my predecessor, Alexandr Vondra, deserve the highest recognition."

Mr. Vondra left Washington last year to serve as deputy foreign minister. He directed the Czech NATO Task Force for the summit. Mr. Palous has been ambassador here since October 2001. The Czech Republic, along with Hungary and Poland, were admitted to NATO in 1999.

Mr. Palous said the latest expansion which included Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia is a historic reversal of the division of Europe into Western and communist spheres after World War II.

"The North Atlantic Council's decision to give the go-ahead to the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by seven new countries brings a definite end to the unfortunate division of Europe that was approved after World War II at the Yalta conference," he wrote.

"Indeed this does signify a historical step toward fulfilling the vision of a Europe, whole and free."

He congratulated the new members and expressed his hopes that NATO will continue to expand to include Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.

"I would like to express my hopes that the process of enlargement will be kept open for other countries that are eligible and would like to be put on the waiting list for future NATO membership," he wrote.

Iraq after Saddam

After toppling Saddam Hussein, the United States must reconstruct Iraq, reconcile rival factions, revitalize the Iraqi oil industry, promote law and order, create a democracy and then get out of the country as soon as possible.

That ambitious agenda is being promoted by two former U.S. ambassadors in a new report by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Edward P. Djerejian, a former ambassador to Israel and to Syria, and Frank G. Wisner, a former ambassador to four countries, call their report an "intellectual road map" to help the Bush administration in a post-Saddam Iraq.

"Immediately after the conclusion of hostilities, a strong American presence will be needed to establish and maintain law and order to ensure that anarchy, revenge and score-settling do not overwhelm the opportunities for lasting political change," the report says.

"As soon as possible, the United States must pivot from a leading role to a superintending one, recognizing that the Iraqi people will be liberated, not a defeated, people."

It urges the Bush administration to "make clear it has no desire to become the de facto ruler of Iraq and its vast oil reserves."

The report recommends the preservation of the regular Iraqi army and elimination of Saddam's Republican Guard, intelligence services and other key institutions that keep the dictator in power.

The two ambassadors note that the oil industry "is being held together by Band-aids," ever though Iraq has the world's second-largest proven oil reserves.

They predict the revitalization of the oil industry will take at least 18 months and $5 billion to restore production to the 3.5 million barrels a day pumped before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. They also urge that Iraqis maintain control over the oil sector.

Rebuilding Iraq's electric-power infrastructure could cost an additional $20 billion, the report says. Iraq currently receives about $10 billion a year in revenue.

"Initial investment requirements will have to compete with costs for Herculean humanitarian and other reconstruction needs that have to be met to avoid a major health and economic crisis in Iraq after a war," the report says.

Mr. Djerejian, director of the Baker Institute since 1994, served as ambassador to Israel in 1993 and earlier as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. He was ambassador to Syria under President Reagan.

Mr. Wisner was ambassador to India under President Clinton and earlier served as ambassador to Zambia, Egypt and the Philippines.

•Embassy Row will be on vacation over the Christmas holidays. The column will return on Jan. 6.

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