The allies have stepped forward and agreed to reduce and forgive Iraqi debt to the tune of nearly $80 billion by one estimate. That, plus $14 billion they promised in terms of direct aid, puts the overall allied contribution financially at about $95 billion, not to the $120 billion we've got, but, you know, better than 40 percent. So your facts are just wrong, Senator.
"Now it just so happens that the one thing I really do know about is Iraq's sovereign debt: I just wrote a 6,600-word cover story on the subject for the September issue of Euromoney...Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. But the $80 billion figure is just crazy. Here are the facts.
Firstly, "the allies", as that term is generally understood, can't possibly reduce Iraq's debt by "nearly $80 billion", because they don't even have that much in Iraqi debt. The US is owed about $4.4 billion, the UK is owed less than $2 billion, and all of eastern Europe combined is owed maybe $6 billion – mostly to countries like Bulgaria, who weren't part of the coalition in the first place. . .Secondly, no one's "stepped forward and agreed" anything. . .Thirdly, there are certainly people out there who think that Iraq's debt will be reduced by $80 billion. But that's all in the future: it hasn't happened yet. Cheney's verb tense ("have agreed") is unambiguous: he's saying this has already happened. It hasn't. . .More broadly, Cheney is comparing apples with oranges. Consider the hypothetical case of a French contractor who built a hospital in Iraq in the 1980s. Iraq was tardy on its payments, and eventually, after the invasion of Kuwait, stopped them entirely. Of the $20 million total cost, let's say only $10 million was paid. Because the contract was supported by French export credit guarantees, the French government took on the debt, paying the contractor itself. Today, with past-due interest, the $10 million that Iraq owed has grown to $20 million. If France agrees to write off 75% of that debt, then, by Cheney's calculus, it's contributing $15 million towards Iraq, $15 million which is entirely comparable (if you're Cheney) to $15 million in real US taxpayer dollars which is being spent by the US government on troops and munitions and reconstruction and the like."
Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen