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Greed and Gall: Asking Iraq to Pay for Its Occupation

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The minority of Americans who support the war largely do so out of a sense of responsibility to Iraqis. They favor reconstruction and restoration as well as ongoing occupation. And most of the majority who favor ending the war support the financing of reconstruction, which - after all - costs less than war. Reconstruction seems to be something we generally agree on.

Of course, very little reconstruction has been done or appears likely to be done, and recent reports are that the Bush Administration doesn't want any more money for it - having spent most of the money already allocated for reconstruction on other things.

So, I was disgusted to see a website called promoting rebuilding New Orleans with payments from Iraqis. We invaded their country, killed 100,000 people, left the place a wreck, and neglected our own cities - so they should pay us?

It gets worse.

I learned about that website because Jeeni Criscenzo, a candidate for U.S. Congress, forwarded me an Email the group had sent her. The Email pretends that the US has actually followed through on all sorts of extravagant promises to the Iraqis, and then proposes repayment - apparently oblivious to the fact that it is illegal both to invade another country and to seize its resources.

Here is the Email:

Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 7:56 PM
Subject: For Ms. Criscenzo - Congressional Candidate

Dear Ms. Criscenzo:

This is an update from our last email.

We, the Coalition for National Referendum, are writing to you as a Congressional Candidate. Fourteen Congressional Candidates are now in support of the "statement" contained below. (The names and contact information for these Congressional Candidates are at the end of this email)

The issue we are writing to you about is Iraq repaying the United States for the expenditures that have been made in Iraq.

The United States has spent over $250 Billion ($1,967. from every American Household) to aid in the reconstruction and defense of Iraq. Iraq has the third largest proven oil reserve in the world, 115 Billion barrels, worth over $6 Trillion.

While Congress is in the process of making significant cuts in programs and raising the deficit because of a lack of money, American Taxpayers are subsidizing the following for the Iraqi people:

1. Gasoline: "While Americans are shelling out record prices for fuel, Iraqis pay only about 5 cents a gallon for gasoline - a benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars subsidies bankrolled by American taxpayers" (Associated Press, June 6, 2004)

2. Food: The Iraqi people receive "free basic foodstuffs" (The New York Times, August 11, 2005)

3. Health Care: In Iraq Heath Care is "free at the point of delivery and based on primary health care principles" (The Guardian, UK, November 30, 2004). Therefore, while 44 million Americans do not have health insurance, the American Taxpayers are subsidizing Health Care for 25 million Iraqis.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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