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Iraq Should Pay - Right, Left, Wrong

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Iraq reportedly has an oil revenue that could hit $79 bln this year. On the right, on the left, and on the corporate "news," the critique is that Iraq should start paying for its own reconstruction. WRONG - at least as the situation stands. The Bush administration has told a lot of lies, but there are two clear truths that came out of the administration. One was Bush stating that the war on terrorism would be a multi-generational war, and as the world struggles this may ultimately be true. The second was Colin Powell advising Bush et al, regarding invading Iraq that if they broke it they had to buy it . However, in the run up to the invasion, Wolfowitz stated that this would be war on the cheap. Iraq had oil wealth and they could pay for their own reconstruction. This perspective was stated various ways in various venues (see resources at end). I resented the statement every time I heard it. Why would a nation - regardless of its wealth - pay for the destruction caused by an aggressor engaging in an invasion? Further, an invasion aimed largely at control of those very resources that were being promoted as the nation's source of wealth? Now, Iraq supposedly has a multi-billion dollar surplus so the hew and cry is that they should being paying for their own reconstruction. Paying whom? The US gave out cost-plus contracts to largely U.S. corporations. A number of those corporations have done worse than a lousy job. Further, they did not hire Iraqi's. They brought in laborers from outside the country. And, with the aid of the U.S. have operated outside of any law. Is Iraq now supposed to start paying those contractors? As, their failed attempt to kick Blackwater out of Iraq proved, they can't just send those corporations packing. Are they supposed to pay out those contracts on the condition they stop work, AND hire Iraqi's to replace them? Who "shock and awed" Iraq? Who continues to use massive artillery and bombing in an attempt to fight the various factions in Iraq? Who continues to renew cost-plus contracts for non-performing corporations? Who continues to protect those corporations? Now, who owes whom? Who should pay for the mess? Who controls Iraq's wealth? Is it the Iraqi "government?" Or is it the U.S.? So folks, including the McCain and Obama campaigns, can posture all they want about how Iraq should start picking up the tab. It sounds more like getting stuck with the bill to me. Now we might crack down on those non-performing contractors. We might demand that they hire Iraqi's instead of bringing in "foreign" workers. We might start a transition that places Iraq in charge of reconstruction rather than ourselves. For now, the U.S. needs to acknowledge that we "broke" Iraq, and then we set up a profiteering bonanza. Then we need to do the right thing and give Iraq back to the Iraqis'. Miscellaneous Resources Nightline, 1/22/08. False Statements Preceded War Paul Wolfowitz's Happy Talk Five Years On Cost of Iraq War and Nation Building On Iraq - testimony of Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Bolton and John Keane before Senate Foreign Relations Committee 7/29/2003. Wright, Guardian. 6/04/2003. Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil Washington Post, 3/20/2005. Wolfowitz Strives To Quell Criticism:
The clip showed Wolfowitz telling a congressional panel, "It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself," and "The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."
Schmitt, NY Times, 2/28/2003, Pentagon Contradicts General on Iraq Occupation Force's Size:
Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take more time, he said. "I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will be easier after the fact than before the fact," Mr. Wolfowitz said. Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the variables. Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.


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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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