LONDON - An American who spent two months working on a U.S.-led reconstruction team in Iraq accused Washington Thursday of failing to prepare for the post-conflict situation.
Timothy Carney, a former U.S. ambassador who until recently had been overseeing Iraq's Industry Ministry, said most of the focus was placed on the military campaign and very little on the security and political problems that could ensue.
An Iraqi woman walks with a gas lamp inside her house June 25, 2003 due to electric power shortages in Baghdad. Much of Baghdad has gone without water or electricity in recent days, adding to the hardship of people coping with severe unemployment and a lack of public safety. Photo by Radu Sigheti/Reuters
"What we didn't understand was the lack of resources and priority that would be assigned to our efforts," Carney told BBC Radio in Washington.
"Those military officers simply did not understand or give enough priority to the transition from their military mission to the political military mission," added Carney, who had been working with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) in Iraq.
Asked whether the White House had thought through the post-conflict situation, he answered: "Clearly not. I'm not aware of any discussion of post-conflict Iraq taking place before November or December of last year."
The United States and Britain, whose troops toppled Saddam Hussein in their invasion of Iraq, have come under fire since then with aid workers accusing them of leaving the country in a state of anarchy.
The security problems were highlighted this week when six British soldiers were shot dead Tuesday. The U.S. military has suffered several losses since the war, many at the hands of Iraqis who oppose the presence of foreign troops.
Carney said "billions of dollars" were needed to fund the reconstruction effort and he said neither the U.S. military nor officials were prepared for the task at hand.
"There is a lack of...doctrine on how to do such political military missions and that has caused many of the problems," he said, adding: "There was a great gap in our knowledge of what Iraq was like."
Speaking to the BBC from Iraq, Britain's International Development Secretary Valerie Amos said restoring security was the top priority but that efforts were being hampered.
"Without getting the security environment right it's going to very difficult indeed to deal with all the other issues. The people in Iraq want their basic services to be up and running but we are being sabotaged the whole time. There are forces here that don't want the coalition effort to succeed," she said.
© 2003 Reuters Ltd