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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Foreign Aid - In Iraq's Shadow

Saddamsmiling.jpg Why is This Man Smiling?

Cf. the following perceptive analysis from Forbes Magazine, which puts the Administration's recent request for $87 billion in future Iraq war/ reconstruction costs in sharp relief. http://www.forbes.com/2003/09/08/cx_da_0908topnews.html A bit unexpected, perhaps, coming from this source. The neocons appear to be fighting among themselves, always a welcome sign of ruling-class ferment. (As Trotsky said, class structures split apart from the top down. Certainly Trotsky split apart from the top down...) But this article is infinitely more perceptive than the critique of the President's budget proposal that has been offered by most conventional liberals, whose main point has been to observe that $87 billion is a very large number. We do need to note that this August 2003 proposal was a rough estimate at best, which could well turn out to be too low -- given the Administration's inability to predict anything else in this benighted situation, and its inability to raise more than a few billion in aid for Iraq from other countries. Worldwide spending on foreign aid by all developed countries is also now on the order of just $60 billion, the lowest level, in real terms, in over a decade -- and even lower than it fell under the penurious Mr. Clinton, who could "feel their pain" by the hundreds of millions. Letting the entire Third World slip farther back into immiseration, while we rebuild just one country with its 25 million inhabitants, hardly seems like a strategy calculated to insure world peace. At least a third of all this foreign aid also goes to "special cases" like Egypt, Pakistan and Israel, leaving even less for the truly poor. There is also the discomforting, un-Forbesian point that the Bush tax cuts for our hard-pressed dividend clippers, on top of all this unforeseen nation building, may well crack the Imperium's piggy bank, or at least raise long-term real interest rates back to where they were in the early 1990s, before the spendthrift Democrats won the Presidency from Bush the Elder. But there's no price too high for freedom. We await the long-term financial consequences for hegemony of the invasions of Iran, Syria and North Korea with great anticipation.

(c) James S. Henry, October 2003. Not for reproduction or other use without express consent of the author.

October 14, 2003 at 03:09 AM | Permalink

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