$87 Billion for Iraq? Think Again.
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
That $87 billion sticks to the mind. If the president had requested a round figure of $90 billion or $80 billion, it would not be so notorious, but it would also be more suspect. To make it sound like it was carefully calculated, the funds that president Bush requested for Iraq was given a last digit that was not a zero. The digit 7 was a stroke of genius. $81 or $82 billion could be whittled down to below $80 billion by Congress. $89 billion would seem like all those prices that end in a 9, so that was out. $85 billion is also too roundish. $87 billion seems precise and sound.
The 87 billion includes funds to construct infrastructure for Iraq. American taxpayers should not have to pay to develop the economy of Iraq. I'm not a fan of the World Bank, but since it exists, that is where the construction money should come from. Iraq already has a huge national debt, and there will be an international conference to restructure that debt. The conference should differentiate the new from the old debt.
There is good debt and evil debt. Evil debt is borrowed by a dictator for military aggression and internal oppression. Good debt is borrowed by a government for productive economic investments in education and infrastructure. The new borrowing by Iraq would be good debt, secured from future oil revenues.
The request for a World Bank loan should come from the government of Iraq, not the U.S. The U.S. and its coalition allies should immediately transfer temporary authority for economic development to the Iraqi national council. The council would then request a loan from the World Bank.
Most of the $87 billion is for the military. American soldiers are being attacked continuously, in many cases by fanatics who think the U.S. seeks to colonize Iraq. The solution to this has to be political, not just military. Sovereignty must be transferred to Iraqis immediately. There are already advisory councils in the villages and city neighborhoods. The local councils should obtain full governing authority. Sovereignty should then be transferred to the people of Iraq as represented by their local councils. The local councils would then elect provincial councils, and the provincial councils would elect the national parliament, which would replace the temporary national council.
The U.S. plan for Iraq is first the drafting of a new constitution. Then a new government will be elected. After that, sovereignty would be restored to Iraq. This should be completed by the summer of 2004.
In my judgement, this is all backwards. Let's remember that the U.S. Constitution was drafted by elected representatives from already independent states. The more effective sequence is first sovereignty, then the constitution. The Iraqi national council is seen by the fanatics as a tool of and collaborators with the occupation. Any constitution drafted by this council will be seen as an American ploy. The new Iraqi constitution should be drafted by the elected representatives of a sovereign state. A bottom-up multi-level democracy would reflect the will of the people.
So long as the Iraqis do not have sovereign democracy, terrorists will enter to fight what they see as American occupiers. Arabs formerly were under the rule of the Turkish empire, and then ruled by European colonial powers. France occupied Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria. Italy had Libya. Egypt was under British control. Iraq, Kuwait, Aden, Bahrain, Sudan, Palestine, Jordan, and what is now the United Arab Emirates were British possessions.
The European powers failed to establish democratic institutions in the Arab countries. Now the U.S. is seen by many Arabs as establishing colonialism all over again. Moreover, the U.S. is regarded as already being an imperial power, propping up oppressive dictatorial regimes. It also does not help that the U.S. is perceived as backing Israeli rule over Arabs.
This is why the U.S. and its coalition partners should transfer sovereignty to elected Iraqi councils. There should also be a referendum in Iraq where the people are asked whether they wish for the coalition troops to remain or to leave immediately. Most likely, Iraqis would vote for the foreign troops to remain to help bring about democracy and security. It would then be clear that the Iraqis are in charge, and the violence against Americans there would recede.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2003 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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