The Bush Administration
expects its proposed $87 billion Supplemental Appropriations package for
funding military operations and reconstruction aid in Afghanistan and Iraq
to gain final congressional passage this week and go to the president for
signature, the Associated Press (AP) reports. The $67 billion portion designated
for American military operations is not in dispute. For the first time, however,
the White House last week threatened a veto if any of the up to $20 billion
in aid funds for reconstruction comes with strings attached in the form of
loans rather than outright reconstruction grants.
Senate and House versions of the bill differ over the proportions designated
for grants vs. loans. In the House version Afghanistan and Iraq receive outright
grants exclusively, while the Senate plan is a hybrid that divides the funds
between pure grants and Iraqi oil-backed loans. The loan portion is currently
pegged at $10 billion.
Democrats in both houses of Congress overwhelmingly either oppose the $87
billion appropriation altogether or else repudiate the White House’s all-grants
approach to providing aid, insisting on a loans-for-oil mechanism. Republicans
in like proportion reject loans, demanding freely given grants. In the Senate,
however, a compromise led to passage of the hybrid loan-grant version. It
is the passage of this hybrid, obligating Iraq to repay American loans out
of anticipated future oil revenues, that led to the White House veto threat.
The latest wire reports indicate that there is an expectation that in House-Senate
conference the final vote is likely to conform to the president’s demand
for pure grants, with the Democrat-favored loans-for-oil mechanism completely
President Bush insists a grants-only approach is imperative if Iraq’s experiment
in constitutional governance is to succeed economically, politically and
socially, serving as a model capable of transforming the other undemocratic
nations of the Islamic world. Democrats dismiss Administration warnings that
the loans-for-oil scheme will imperil Iraq’s emergence from dictatorship
and chaos. Congressional Democrats are adamant that at least $10 billion
of the aid portion take the form of loans. Budget estimates cited by Senator
Nickles of Oklahoma in the Senate floor debate suggest these loans would
have to be repaid out of a crippling 80-100 percent of total annual Iraqi
oil production well into the future.
An examination of the motivation underlying the Democrats’ insistence on
the loans-for-oil mechanism exposes what may be the most cynical, hypocritical,
and dangerous political manipulation in United States history, with victory
and defeat in America’s War on Terrorism quite possibly hanging in the balance.
Why do congressional Democrats so fiercely oppose the Bush Administration's
proposal for $20 billion in Marshall Plan-style grants to fund the rebuilding
of Afghanistan and Iraq?--Examining two guiding principles subscribed to
by many Democratic leaders yields insight into their motivation.
* * * * *
aftermath of 9/11 and the lead-up to the Iraq War, the antiwar base or "Democratic
Wing" of the Democratic Party promulgated two fundamental principles to undercut
President Bush’s Iraq policy.
First, in a speech at the New America Foundation/Atlantic Monthly Public
Policy Forum, Democratic Party presidential hopeful Howard Dean began by
echoing the war protesters’ slogan, "No blood for oil," casting the impending
2003 Iraq War as the product of an ill-conceived Bush-Cheney-Halliburton
plan to establish American hegemonic control over the world’s oil supply.
"If we had a renewable energy policy in this country," Dean insisted, "[America]
would not be sending kids to die in Iraq."
Interviewed on MSNBC, Dean’s rival for the position of commander-in-chief
of all United States military forces, Senator John Kerry, parroted, "young
American men in uniform and women in uniform should not be held hostage,
ever, to America's dependency on fossil fuel oil for the Middle East."
The Democratic Wing’s second major plank was articulated last year by Washington Senator Patty Murray.
Americans share much of the responsibility for 9/11, the senator explained
in a December 18, 2002, talk to an assembled group of high school students.
She condemned America for its failure to address what Democratic Wingers
believe to be terrorism’s "root causes," poverty, poor education, and deprivation.
The Senator from Washington singled-out one man as a paragon of philanthropy
America should emulate: Osama bin Laden. For many years, Murray related,
bin Laden had been generously donating his wealth to philanthropic projects
in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan; for instance, "building day care
facilities, building health care facilities; and the people are extremely
grateful . . . [while by contrast we Americans] have not done that. We haven’t
been out in many of these countries helping them build infrastructure." The
Senator posed the rhetorical question, "How would they look on us today if
we had been there helping them rather than just . . . bomb in Iraq and .
. . Afghanistan."
Murray challenged young Americans, "Your generation ought to be thinking
about whether or not you believe that perhaps we should be better neighbors
out in other countries so that they have a different vision of us."
Senator Murray overlooked the fact that bin Laden, a man of great wealth,
and other leading terrorists such as the 9/11 hijackers do not fit to her
"root causes" theory, since as a group their social, economic, and educational
status is well above the average. Senator Murray also chose to ignore the
fact that America, not bin Laden, has been by far the leading giver of aid
to Afghanistan and several other indigent Middle East nations.
Mrs. Murray merely mirrored the slyer and far subtler cavils of that oleaginous
master of equivocation and accommodation, former president Bill Clinton,
who in similar fashion had rushed to blame America for the 9/11 attacks on
the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
In his November 7, 2001 address at Georgetown University, just a few weeks
after the 9/11 attacks, Clinton condemned white Americans as responsible
for Islamic terrorism based on a wide range of putatively related injustices,
from America’s history of slavery to its mistreatment of native Americans.
Clinton even reached further back to the Crusades and Inquisition to support
his reproof. Reviving the thoroughly discredited notion of collective guilt
according to which whole nations and races and religions share responsibility
for the crimes of individuals who lived even centuries earlier and in other
nations, Clinton drew upon the notion that, as NewsMax.com columnist
David C. Stolinsky interpreted it, "All Christians are guilty for the Crusades
and Inquisition, even those whose ancestors suffered from them. And of course,
all Jews are guilty for the death of Jesus, not just those who were in Jerusalem
that day and called for it."
With time to reflect on the criticism aroused by his Georgetown University
comments, Mr. Clinton took a much more cautious line in subsequent speeches.
In his December 3, 2002 speech to the Democratic Leadership Council, for
instance, Clinton avoided directly indicting America as responsible for the
9/11 terrorist attacks. This time he cannily couched his criticisms in positive
terms, pointing to America’s opportunity to eliminate terrorism by distributing
our wealth rather than straightforwardly blaming America for failing to do
its share in the past:
in the area of security, we need a positive agenda. We should never forget
the reason most of you who, like me, are baby boomers, were able to grow
up in the world we grew up in: the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of Japan.
When George Marshall and Truman, who had been through World War I and World
War II and seen the world nearly destroyed, said, You know, we ought to take
a little bit of money and build a world with more partners and fewer enemies
and try to win the Cold War and not to have World War III."
provoked by these words, first to Socratic wonder…and then the corresponding
"recollection:" Might the $20 billion envisioned in the aid portion of President
Bush’s proposed grants for rebuilding Iraq qualify as what former president
Clinton posits as the modern equivalent of the "Marshall Plan" for the prevention
Here as midwife to American foreign policy and national security strategy
Clinton delivers no "wind-egg," explaining what the United States must do
if it is to give birth to peace in the Middle East. The former president’s
prescription?-- Only massive grants will supply the cure for terror’s scourge:
[currently] spend 10 billion dollars total in this kind of assistance, by
far the smallest percentage of any country in the world. They say we're going
up to 15 billion depending on how you count the money over the next couple
of years. You know, it sounds like a 50 percent increase, big deal. I think
Congress approved something on the order of 60 billion dollars in increases
in homeland security and defense in one year. Well positive assistance ought
to be part of our security strategy, too, and the American people will buy
it if you explain it to them in terms of the Marshall Plan."
* * * * *
Email Sherry & Steven Eros
Fast-forward to October 2003. What’s now exercising Bush-hating antiwar Democratic
Wing cadres?--Imperial America plundering Iraq’s oil wealth? Failing to adequately
fund grants through the Clinton-Murray Middle East "Marshall Plan?"-- Au
contraire: nearly all congressional Democrats prefer the loans-for-oil scheme,
thoroughly repudiating their own Marshall Plan concept.
Oddly and inexplicably, Senator Murray herself has recently done a complete
about-face, voting to defeat her own "Marshall Plan" for Iraq, instead supporting
the Democratic Wing’s oil-for-loan scheme.
So how would the Iraqis repay these American loans?--Answer: it would take
nearly all of Iraq’s oil revenues for the foreseeable future.
Ignoring the simple fact that at present no legitimate Iraqi government exists
to execute any loan agreement, most congressional Democrats have insisted
on straight-jacketing the Iraqi economy with the loans-for-oil approach.
Given the obvious fact that additional billions in American and international
loans would be required over the next several years to complete the task
of rebuilding Iraq, Democrats wilfully disregard the fact that this ever-mounting
debt would certainly prove ruinous to an emerging Iraqi economy and would
likely occasion widespread social and political chaos as well.
Absurdly and hypocritically, this purely political ploy places the vast majority
of Democratic Wing politicians in the position of promoting American expropriation
of Iraq’s oil wealth. Their insistence on loans places the Democratic Wing
of the Democratic Party and the rest of the "No blood for oil" crowd in the
position of appearing to pursue the very thing for which they denounce President
Bush: hegemonic control over Iraqi oil. Except, now the roles are seemingly
reversed, with most Republicans advocating pure grants to Iraq in the manner
of the Marshall Plan and the Democratic Wingers pressing for control of Iraq’s
oil wealth for repayment of loans to rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure.
(It is worth noting, however, that the motivation of Republicans, sans the
Democratic Wing’s "root causes" theory, is quite different from that of the
Democrats, since it rests on a hard-nosed calculation that the $20 billion
in grants to transform Iraq, and therewith the Middle East, is relatively
inexpensive in comparison to the multi-trillion dollar cost of any future
terrorist attacks similar to 9/11.)
Most unconscionably, Democratic Party presidential hopefuls Senators John
Edwards and John Kerry, who only a little over a year ago voted in favor
of the Iraq War resolution, suddenly reversed themselves this month in a
desperate maneuver to insure that antiwar presidential prospects such as
Howard Dean and Wesley Clark would be rendered incapable of leftwardly outflanking
them on the war with Iraq. Accordingly, Edwards and Kerry voted to altogether
block not only the nearly $20 billion aid portion of the Supplemental, but
the entire $87 billion package including all of the $67 billion in military
funding to support the American troops; this, despite the fact that they
earlier voted for the authorization bill to fight the War on Terrorism in
Afghanistan and Iraq. In this sharp leftward lurch, the two cut-and-run kids
signaled that as president each would opt to desert the military in Iraq.
We are left to wonder whether the vast number of congressional Democrats
voted against pure Marshall Plan-style grants to Afghanistan and Iraq because
they expect the rebuilding effort to fail--or rather, by thwarting the president's
grant proposal, want to guarantee United States failure in Iraq in order
to advance their own political interests.
* * * * *
Huge billowing political black clouds over the Democratic Party’s horizon
have been gathering greatly. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California gubernatorial
victory may be just a foretaste of Election 2004. The President is in the
process of establishing an unparalleled string of stunning successes. First,
his breathtakingly swift dual military victories in liberating Afghanistan
and Iraq. Second, his astounding accomplishment in taking the offensive,
promptly displacing the War on Terrorism from the American homeland to the
Middle East nations which sponsor terrorism, thereby preventing further 9/11s.
Third, the mounting evidence that the United States economy is on the verge
of an immense spurt of growth that will vindicate Bush’s three rounds of
tax cuts and other Administration efforts to revive the economy despite the
staggering successive body blows sustained from the collapse of the stock
market’s "dot-con" bubble, the economic impact of the 9/11 attacks and the
confidence-shaking corporate scandals.
Faced with the prospect of another electoral debacle in 2004, congressional
Democratic Wingers are desperate to find a way to discredit and incapacitate
George W. Bush. Their ceaseless provocations notwithstanding, they will fail
to cajole the president into replicating his father’s broken pledge not to
increase taxes. And with mounting success in Iraq and the anticipated withdrawal
of large numbers of American troops next year, their attempt to negatively
spin America’s astonishing triumph in Iraq as a fraud and failure (based
on the current inability to locate stockpiled weapons of mass destruction)
will also fall flat. With these issues nullified, the Democratic Party will
be left with nothing in its arsenal capable of hitting its target. Nothing,
that is, but a desperate attempt to sabotage Bush’s Iraq policy by unscrupulously
obligating the president to pile unmanageable debt on Iraq and in effect
forcing the United States into the position of grabbing decades worth of
its Iraq’s oil wealth. By saddling the Iraqi economy with this debt burden,
Democrats sow the seeds of American failure in creating an Iraq which is
economically viable, socially peaceful and constitutionally sound.
The Administration’s recent message to Congress threatening a presidential
veto if the bill sent to the president contains any loans-for-oil provision
explained that, "Including a loan mechanism slows efforts to stabilize the
region and to relieve pressure on our troops, raises questions about our
commitment to building a democratic and self-governing Iraq, and impairs
our ability to encourage other nations to provide badly needed assistance
without saddling Iraq with additional debt." Furthermore, according to AP
reports, the Administration believes "loans would feed Arab worries that
the United States wants to control Iraq's huge oil reserves."
If Administration warnings are correct, the loan mechanism also would very
likely engender increasingly lethal and organized terrorist attacks upon
our troops, increasing pressure on America to extricate itself.
Destabilizing Iraq with a loans-for-oil scheme thus appears to be what passes
for the Democratic Wing’s notion of an Iraq "exit strategy." The presidential
veto threat comes just at the right time to salvage America’s Iraq policy
by preventing the Democratic Wing from implementing its baleful blueprint
for catastrophe in the wider War on Terrorism.
Sherry Eros, MD, is a neuropsychiatrist and Steven Eros is a philosopher. This article first published on Human Events Online.
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