Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Iraq has the right to be its own country
U.S. forces may have ousted Saddam Hussein and set up a new government in Iraq, but doesn't Iraq ever get to be its own country? If Iraq plans to stay a democracy, which U.S. leaders apparently want, doesn't that mean that it gets to make its own decisions, even if Washington doesn't like what Baghdad decides to do? This seems simple enough, yet it's obviously not obvious enough. Members of the U.S. Congress who expressed outrage Wednesday over reports of Iraq's $79 billion budget surplus must think of that country as a client state, not an independent country. The Reuters international news service reported Tuesday that one member of Congress called the General Accounting Office report "inexcusable." But what is all the exasperation about? The United States knows what's going on in Iraq -- certainly military leaders know what is being produced in oil refineries they rebuilt and are keeping in operation -- and knows what to do. Aren't there agreements between the United States and Iraq on revenue? Iraq certainly must plan to repay the United States for at least some of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the war and reconstruction. "We should not be paying for Iraqi projects while Iraqi oil revenues continue to pile up in the bank, including outrageous profits from $4-a-gallon gas prices in the U.S.," said Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters reported. "We should require that U.S. taxpayers be reimbursed for the cost of large projects." A spokeswoman for Levin said the senator would try to tighten the rules on reconstruction spending in the next authorization bill. But the Congress passed the last half-dozen or so bills -- wasn't this most simple matter seen to? You spend billions and billions of dollars on someone, don't you know whether they plan to pay it back? Maybe the outspoken members of Congress think they're embarassing Iraq, but they are only embarassing themselves.