Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 17, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

HELPING IRAQ....Max says that when it comes to the Iraq aid package, Democrats are wrong about well, about nearly everything. We shouldn't make the aid into a loan, we shouldn't try to tie it to domestic spending, and we shouldn't parcel out oil funds directly to every Iraqi citizen.

I don't agree with Max's odd position that Iraqis shouldn't pay for any reconstruction at all after all, we didn't cause all of the damage but I think he's got it right on the other stuff, and the loan idea is surely the worst of them all. Iraq already has something like $300 billion in external debt, which it has about as much chance of paying off as Weimar Germany after World War I. And we all know how that turned out, don't we?

With any luck, it's forgiveness of debt that will be the most concrete outcome of the UN resolution yesterday. It doesn't sound like we're going to get a whole lot of troops out of the deal, and not much money either, but having a UN imprimatur might help with the debt negotiations. If it does, that alone will make it worth the trouble.

UPDATE: I forgot to include a paragraph that I meant to add to this post. Reading the comments reminded me of it.

I don't have a problem with Congress trying to gain some control over how the Iraq aid money is spent, and I don't really have a problem with (for example) John Edwards' position that he'll vote against the aid unless the administration presents a postwar plan more to his liking. These are perfectly good bargaining positions. What's more, as one commenter pointed out, the loan provision is designed to be forgiven as long as other countries also forgive their Iraqi debt, so maybe that's a good bargaining tool too.

As always, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between genuine positions and bargaining positions. I guess we'll have to stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 10:28 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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