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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
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A senior American official who spent two months helping the United States' post-war effort in Iraq has strongly criticised reconstruction plans.

In his first broadcast interview since leaving Iraq, Timothy Carney has told the BBC it is clear the White House did not think through its post-war plans and that there was a lack of resources and priority given to reconstruction efforts.

Mr Carney, a former American ambassador with decades of experience in post-conflict zones, spent eight weeks in Iraq trying to get the ministry of industry and minerals up and running.

US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, speaking during a visit to London, admitted the government had overestimated the state of Iraq's infrastructure and found it far worse than expected.

She said Iraq was well below third world standards, even in the cities.

Ms Rice said rebuilding Iraq and creating institutions to govern the country was hindered by the fact that Iraq was a "traumatised" country, which had suffered 30 years of possibly the most brutal regime of the 20th Century.

Wrong priorities

Mr Carney went into greater detail about how the US was not prepared for post-war Iraq.

He said that the initial structure - in which the reconstruction team were under the command of the military led by retired General Jay Garner - a "grievous flaw" as officers either did not understand or did not give enough priority to rebuilding Iraq.

"There was an incredibly broad focus on what might need to be done in Iraq while Jay Garner's staff of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs (Orha) was waiting in Kuwait for combat to end," he said.

"A heavy focus was on the potential for a humanitarian emergency - a potential that never was realised.

It's time to get serious about resources, to announce a package of several billion US dollars, and to address some of the urgent needs of infrastructure
Timothy Carney

"What we didn't understand was the lack of resources and priority that would be assigned to our efforts.

"Those military officers simply did not either understand or give enough priority to the transition from their military mission to the political-military mission which Orha, with its American, British and Australian staff were trying to accomplish."

Mr Carney said telephone communications were simply inadequate and that reconstruction efforts were further hampered by a lack of troops.

He said he was unaware of any meeting taking place on the issue in Washington before the end of last year.

Mr Carney said three main problems remained for the occupying forces trying to reconstruct Iraq - inadequate security, lack of resources and poor communication with the Iraqi people.

"The coalition has been announcing trivial amounts of money in the tens and twenties of millions of US dollars-worth of projects," he said.

"It's time to get serious about resources, to announce a package of several billion US dollars, and to address some of the urgent needs of infrastructure and updating of antiquated plants in the many state-owned enterprises."

He said the US administrator Paul Bremer needed to be "more visible to Iraqis".


The UK's International Development Secretary, Baroness Amos, who is currently in Iraq, agreed with some of Mr Carney's points.

She said the security situation had to be dealt with before other issues of concern could be addressed.

"The people in Iraq want their basic services to be up and running, but we are being sabotaged the whole time," she said.

"As soon as we fix the electricity or the water, it is looted or sabotaged overnight, because there are forces here that don't want the coalition effort here to succeed."

On the issue of resources, she said the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have all been to Iraq to carry out needs-assessments to help determine what was needed for reconstruction effort.

Regarding communication, Baroness Amos said she "absolutely" agreed with Mr Carney.

The BBC's Michael Buchanan
"Timothy Carney says the United States failed to develop an adequate reconstruction blueprint"

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