Saturday, December 13, 2003

Lagniappe: Why keeping the French, Russians, and Germans out of the largesse loop regarding Iraqi reconstruction is self-defeating - First, to those who say it's US taxpayer money, so why not parcel it out exclusively to our "friends." Well, it's not really American Taxpayer money going over there. It's the U.S. Treasury Bondholders who agreed, by their bond purchases, to finance the amount we borrowed for Iraqi reconstruction, whose money is going to Iraq. The American Taxpayer won't pay out on this debt for many, many years. And, Surprise! ... These bondholders are not just Americans, but, I would guess, also French, Japanese, German, Russian, Canadian, Mexican, etc., investors. So, without our erstwhile anti-allies, we wouldn't have been able to float the loans to line the pockets of Halliburton. Also, politically speaking, the US needs Russia, France, Germany, etc., to help with Iraqi reconstruction by debt forgiveness. You cut these folks out of the money loop, you just shoot yourself in the foot and prolong the real expense of the Iraqi occupation (i.e. loss of American lives.) I tend to agree with those who say that this posturing by Bush is primarily election-year politics. He's throwing a bit of political red meat for his base in an election year. When one looks at this whole scenario dispassionately and with the ultimate goal of a peaceful, democratic Iraq in miind, the Bush exclusionary policy regarding contracting for Iraqi reconstruction makes absolutely no sense in terms of the goal of efficient, cost-effective, and speedy Iraqi reconstruction efforts - and not only in restoring the Iraqi economy, but also in facilitating the essential consolidation of Iraqi democracy. I just don't see how cutting the non-coalition world out of Iraqi reconstruction largesse is the way to "win the peace in Iraq" -- as much as it might be the way to "win some votes at home." Call me a cynic, but that's how I see this petty gamesmanship by Bush.

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