Jack Kemp

Let's get one thing straight from the outset about Iraq. The Iraqi people need wait upon no one - military general, foreign government or international organization - to govern themselves, engage in commerce domestically and sell their property on world markets. Sovereignty resides in the Iraqi people and cannot be conferred by any outside entity or authority.

It will not be the United Nations that confers legitimacy on the new Iraqi government; formal diplomatic recognition will come about the old-fashioned way - one nation at a time as the new Iraqi government exchanges ambassadors, signs treaties and engages in commerce and trade on a bilateral basis with individual countries around the world.

As President Bush has said repeatedly, the natural resources of Iraq belong to the people of Iraq, and no authority to consume them or sell them can or need be granted by any outside entity. Moreover, there is a cacophony of misguided talk about "lifting" the sanctions, "forgiving" debt and "honoring" contracts that were imposed upon and executed by the odious and now defunct Baathist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The legal and moral basis of those sanctions, debts and contracts went the way of the Hussein regime - they are moot, null and void.

Two stringent conditions must be met before any foreign government, international organization or private enterprise can claim the legal or moral standing to enforce holdover sanctions on the Iraqi people or force them to comply with contracts signed by or repay debt incurred by the Hussein regime. The government, organization or enterprise must demonstrate that the action taken by the Hussein regime that gave rise to the sanctions, contract or loan was taken both with the consent of and for the benefit of the Iraqi people. Otherwise, the Iraqi people may not be made to suffer under sanctions nor compelled to recognize and comply with contractual claims against Hussein's regime. The burden of proof, extremely heavy in this case, is upon those who would press the claims against the Iraqi people.

Bankruptcy is a fundamental concept of capitalism that wipes the contractual slate clean. There is a political analogy to bankruptcy - today it's called "regime change" - in which the country begins de novo. It occurred in Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, Soviet Russia and Warsaw Pact Europe. It has now occurred in Iraq. Tabula rasa: The slate has been wiped clean; things begin de novo.

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp is Founder and Chairman of Kemp Partners and a contributing columnist to Townhall.com.
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