CONGRESSMAN SHERMAN URGES U.S. TO SUPPORT RENUNCIATION OF IRAQ DEBT
œThe U.S. government must take the lead and declare all of the non-commercial debt incurred by the Saddam Hussein regime to be null and void, said Sherman. œIraqs debts “ including reparations “ ought to be abandoned by international creditors, and our government should tell them that their notes are not worth the paper they are written on.
œThe new Iraqi government cannot be handed a bill for Saddams excesses and cruelties when it takes office on July 1, said Sherman, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee. œNor should the U.S. effort in Iraq be more expensive than it has to be. It is unconscionable that the aid provided by the American taxpayer, backed up by the blood of our soldiers, is not being spent exclusively to rebuild Iraq. Instead, Iraq is forced to send much-needed cash to rich countries that chose to lend to Saddams regime, and as reparations to Kuwait “ the small sheikdom Saddam invaded and we rescued.
Sherman has been critical of the U.S. policy of providing aid in the form of grants to rebuild Iraq while the rest of the world wants to be repaid for loans made to the Saddam regime.
œOur government has decided that the U.S. taxpayer does not get repaid for its generosity to Iraq, Sherman said. œBut, the Saudis and Kuwaitis will.
Many states in the oil-rich Gulf region provided loans to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, and other nations provided significant loans to the Baathist regime. Iraqs new government should have the backing of the United States and be encouraged to declare that it will not pay on those old debts.
The UN Compensation Commission, which administers Iraqi reparations, distributed more than $800 million in Iraqi oil funds in April 2003 alone, mostly to Kuwaiti elites. The Commission is slated to take five percent of Iraqs oil revenues this year.
œEvery dollar in Iraq that is not spent on improving the lives of its people right now, is a dollar wasted, Sherman said. œThe more we divert from that urgent effort, the more our troops are put at risk, and the longer they will be there.
Sherman is drafting legislation which declares that it is the policy of the United States that Iraqs non-commercial debts from the Saddam era are null and void. This legislation would require American officials to take efforts to advance this policy.
œImagine our efforts to building a democratic Japan in the late 1940s if we had insisted that the new government pay trillions of dollars in reparations to China, Korea, Indonesia, etc, said Sherman. œYet we silently support the plan to force the new Iraqi government to pay $300 billion for Saddams invasion of Kuwait. America restored Kuwaits independence. Must we now rebuild the Iraqi oil industry with our tax dollars “ just so the oil revenues can be paid over to oil-rich Kuwait?