Senators Want Iraq to Pay for US Occupation

( – promoted by undercovercalico)

Last month’s Petraeus – Crocker, progress in Iraq, dog and pony show provided a forum which allowed them to tell us how well we are progressing in our endeavors to provide peace and stability in Iraq. The format was such that few hard questions were asked and few meaningful answers were given.

General Petraeus informs us:

“There has been significant but uneven security progress in Iraq.”

The gains, however, are “fragile and reversible,” he says, as he begins to outline a plan for a 45-day “period of consolidation and evaluation” to follow the end of the “surge” of extra American forces in July, before any more troops would be withdrawn.

“This process will be continuous, with recommendations for further reductions made as conditions permit,” he added. “This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable.”

NYT

There were no major surprises from Petraeus and Crocker, more wait and see, stall and delay. However there was something new and very significant from the Senators doing the questioning.

Several senators took advantage of their allotted time to make the point that Iraq is, in their words, getting “a free ride” and that they should be more appreciative of what we are doing for them.

The issue of Baghdad’s contribution to the costs of the war jumped to the forefront early in April during testimony to Congress of the Iraq war commander, Gen. David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. Noting that the soaring price of oil is likely to give Iraq a revenue bonanza this year of up to $70 billion, senators quizzed the two on why Iraq isn’t using its rising oil income to pay more of the costs of reconstruction.

Chicago Tribune

Senator Ben Nelson D-Nebraska is drafting legislation with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Evan Bayh, R-Ind. that would, among other things, require that Baghdad pay for the fuel used by American troops and take over U.S. payments to predominantly Sunni fighters in the Awakening movement.

If Michigan Democrat Carl Levin has his way the Iraqi Government will be required to spend its own oil revenues to rebuild the country before US Dollars are spent. Joe Lieberman wants Iraq to start paying some of US combat costs. Senator Lindsey Graham suggested the possibility that an anticipated Iraqi surplus could be used to support US efforts in Afghanistan.

Senator Barbara Boxer laments:

“After all we have done, the Iraqi government kisses the Iranian leader.”

NYT

The Iraqi response:

“America has hardly even begun to repay its debt to Iraq,” said Abdul Basit, the head of Iraq’s Supreme Board of Audit, an independent body that oversees Iraqi government spending. “This is an immoral request because we didn’t ask them to come to Iraq, and before they came in 2003 we didn’t have all these needs.”

Chicago Tribune

What a deal. The victim pays, not only for the unwanted occupation of it’s own country but to help defray US expenses in its occupation of Afghanistan.

We shall no doubt be hearing much more of this in the future as it now looks like Iraq’s oil revenue in 2008 should exceed $70 billion, twice as much as had been forecast just a few months ago.

This is a bi-partisan effort, as Jim Lobe writes for AlterNet:

…The Senate Armed Services Committee voted unanimously last week to approve a bill that would ban the Pentagon from funding any reconstruction or infrastructure project in Iraq that costs more than two million dollars. Similar legislation is expected to be taken up by the House.

“This is the first significant bipartisan change in our policy toward Iraq,” declared Republican Sen. Susan Collins, one of the sponsors of the legislation after last week’s vote, while the committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin said Iraq’s failure to pay reconstruction costs was “unconscionable (and) inexcusable” given the windfall it has received from the stunning rise in world oil prices.

In the same article Lobe points out that:

one of the surge’s architects, Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said that legislation would “do catastrophic damage to our image in the world, particularly the Muslim world … The argument that Iraq should use its oil revenues to pay the United States sounds like the ultimate proof that we invaded Iraq for mercenary reasons.”

Indeed Mr. Kagan, the fact that we invaded Iraq for mercenary reasons has been obvious to much of the world since the days before shock and awe. The damage to our image has been done.  

20 comments

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  1. sounds like????

    what’s a little more devastation, anyway?

    • Edger on May 10, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Iraqis should be more “appreciative”? They might be, if so many of them weren’t lying down on the job. In graves.

    Whatever happened to the old rule “you break it, you pay for it”?

  2. enough too much already?

    • brobin on May 10, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    That is what is happening to the world economy right now, due to the Bush Administration’s lack of ability to do anything but line their Swiss Bank Accounts with profits from their little war games.

    Fuckin’ hypocrits, everyone.

    • Edger on May 10, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    “I think the American people are growing weary not only of the war, but they are looking at why Baghdad can’t pay more of these costs. And the answer is they can,” says Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.



    Likewise, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he wants to add a provision to a defense policy bill that would force the Iraqi government to spend its own surplus in oil revenues to rebuild the country before U.S. dollars are spent.

    These senators, who are well-known war skeptics, could find allies in lawmakers who support President Bush’s current Iraq policies.

    Nelson and Levin are trying, in much the same fashion that proponents of “original sin” try, a smoke and mirrors act hoping that people will accept without thinking the unspoken assumption behind these statements that the invasion was justified and a  “good thing”.

    Well-known war skeptics? They make the same old insulting assumption the rethugs do, that people are stupid enough to not see through them.

    • OPOL on May 10, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    and getting billed for the bullet.

    • Edger on May 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    with the “mental illness” comment above.

    I think this shows just how detached from reality and in denial and delusional Washington pols are, and how insular their “world” is.

    Maybe Valtin, being a psychologist, might have some insights here.

    These politicians appear to be unbelievably deluded.

    Beyond treatment? Other than restraints of some kind?

    • Mu on May 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    . . . shouldn’t they pay for it?!

    Those Iraqis, what a bunch of ingrates.  I certainly know that if the Peoples Liberation Army invaded and occupied the US, then sent us a bill for it, wouldn’t we be obliged to pay???

    Mu . . .

    • jim p on May 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    in murdering Iraqis, and you’d think they’d show a little gratitude for us showing them how to do it in a number of ways, not all of which require weapons.

    Ending the curse of safe drinking-water, massive child malnutrition, driving physicians out of the nation, keeping medical supplies low, getting neighbors everywhere at each others throats… I guess bombing hospitals and ambulances require weapons. But did Saddam ever think of doing even that? No.

    In light of developments, we can surmise that Saddam wasn’t even serious about killing off Iraqis. They owe us bigtime.

  3. and will Americans be asked to pay for Blackwater’s dissident round up costs?

    Or will science finally find a way to make the ultimate American “stepford person”.

    With Iraq over folks, its on to Iran for the benefit of the glorious nation of America…..I mean NAU…..

    http://www.stopthenorthamerica

    Er…..I mean weapons of mass destruction…….

    No, I mean words of mass distraction

    http://www.amazon.com/Supercla

    • dkmich on May 12, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    I do think they need to step up to the plate in the fight and in the reconstruction.  We all know Bush broke it, but it doesn’t mean that Iraqis don’t need to come to grips.   Afterall, it is their country, their oil, and their futures – despite what Bush, Cheney, and Exxon think.  The Bush regime did promise the people of the US that the “oil would pay for the war” (cough, cough), and the current Iraqi government isn’t pushing the US out the door. It may not be the government they want, but don’t forget the purple fingers.  

    Purple Finger

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