0

Donor Funds are Needed for Poverty, Not Iraq

America wants the world to pledge billions of dollars to Iraq's reconstruction at a donor's meeting to be held in October in Madrid. The world's answer should be an unequivocal "No!" Iraq's long-term reconstruction does not need foreign financial assistance. What it needs is a political settlement, and that will be possible only with the withdrawal of America's occupying army. The billions of dollars that the US seeks should be directed towards true global emergencies, such as the fight against AIDS and hunger.

The Bush Administration probably launched its war against Iraq because it intended to make the country a new base for long-term military operations in the Gulf region. After the terrorist attacks on the US of September 2001, it wanted to withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, and it presumably chose Iraq as its new long-term base of operation. This, I believe, is why America is so opposed to a quick transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. A truly sovereign Iraq might well tell the US to withdraw from the country.

As long as America remains an occupying force in Iraq, political stability there is unlikely. Without political stability, Iraq's economic recovery is unlikely, too. The US is seen by many Iraqis as a colonial occupier, and is therefore the target of attack not only by loyalists of Saddam Hussein, but by Iraqi nationalists of various sorts, as well as by Arab fighters from neighboring countries.

The attacks against the US occupation are destroying the Iraqi economy as well as lives. The attackers have successfully stopped the flow of a large part of Iraq's oil exports. The oil pipeline in the north to Turkey has been repeatedly bombed, and functions sporadically if at all. The oil fields in the South do not have enough electricity to operate at capacity because the power grid is also the target of repeated bombings. Indeed, Iraq is reportedly pumping 1-2 million barrels of oil a day rather than the 2-3 million barrels that the country could quickly achieve in peaceful circumstances.