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Friday, September 05, 2003
 
You've got to be kidding me

At long last, the Bush administration has started to moderate its policies on Iraq. They're appealing to other nations to help stabilize the country, and have even begun to crack on allowing those who would send their soldiers into harm's way to have a bit of input as to how they're used.

This, and a few developments like it, are welcome signs of sanity from our leadership, but Rumsfeld & Co. still have a long way to go.

This week, international experts enlisted by the American-led occupation authorities estimated that the loss of oil revenues and cost of operating a civilian government in Iraq is projected at $20 billion for 2004.

That figure was given to diplomats from potential donor nations in Brussels this week, and by all accounts they were stunned.

"Think of it this way," said an official familiar with the Brussels session. "You'd be putting more than a third of the world's development assistance in 2004 into a country with the second largest oil reserves in the world. Imagine what that does to the rest of the poor countries in the world. All of Africa doesn't get that much money."

This official said the United States would have to "dramatically trim" its requests and put up a huge sum to goad other nations into donating.

But a senior administration official said: "We expect billions of dollars out of the rest of the world. Billions."
Am I reading this right? We make a tragic, bloody mess of a country against their objections, and now we ask them to put their sons and daughters into the firing line to fix our mistake and pay for the privilege to boot? Ain't gonna happen. It'd be pure political suicide.

As if our offer could be any worse, who would ultimately be receiving a big chunk of these contributions? Halliburton and Bechtel, the same American companies that lobbied to keep all foreign competition out. And many of the jobs these two will be doing could be done by locals at a fraction of the cost.

If I were a European, I'd be sputtering with rage at the sheer gall of such a request.

Try again, fellas.

Update: Billmon has more.