Respecting the debts of a defunct dictator is only a custom, and that custom should be overruled by the Doctrine of Odious Debts, i.e., that a country is not responsible for a despotic regime's debts that were used for purposes contrary to the interests of the nation. The United States used this doctrine after the Spanish-American War to cancel Cuba's debts to Spain, and it should be used today because there is no justification in requiring either the Iraqi people or U.S. taxpayers to pay for Saddam's profligacy.
Repudiating Saddam's debt would teach the world an important lesson. Countries that support tyrants like Saddam with loans and investments should lose their money when the regime goes belly-up.
The Democrats, who never saw a spending proposal they didn't like (except for abstinence education), see in the administration's request for $20.3 billion to build Iraqi infrastructure a tantalizing opportunity to increase domestic spending.
The administration proposes to send $3.7 billion to build a water and sewer system in Iraq, but only $1.8 billion on Environmental Protection Agency programs to improve U.S. water and sewer systems. Obviously, according to Democratic political logic, we should double or triple our spending on U.S. projects - not cut foreign aid.
Sniped Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., "It is mind-boggling that the president can recognize the importance of water infrastructure needs in Iraq but is blind to our needs here at home."
What is really mind-boggling is the notion that anyone can seriously propose taxing U.S. citizens to
build a water and sewer system for a rich foreign country that tolerated a dictator who spent his country's oil profits on lavish palaces instead of on necessities.
Americans have already paid an enormous cost for this war in Iraq. With so many Americans out of work, it is insulting for Bremer to demand that U.S. taxpayers pay up to $100 billion more to rebuild a country that has ample natural resources.
France, Russia and Germany should consider themselves lucky if they are simply able to write off all their investments and loans to Saddam as bad business deals with a con man who went bankrupt.
Because their money, flowing to Iraq, significantly helped to maintain that evil dictator, France, Russia and Germany, not the United States, should be called on to pay for rebuilding the country.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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