December 14, 2003
I was thinking again about the notion that our contracts policy will damage the debt negotiations. But to believe that, you have to believe that the Thuggish Three really WANT to be helpful, and just need a little sweet-talk, maybe some flowers and a box of candy, and then they will pour tens-of-billions of odious dollars down the drain. Out of the goodness of their hearts, y'know. I think Musil has the right idea here...
....Mr. Baker is surely the right man for the job. And despite the ridiculous posturing of the New York Times the Pentagon has done him a huge favor by barring obstructionist European nations from reconstruction contracts. That act - and the President's endorsement of it - credibly evidences United States willingness to have Iraq unilaterally repudiate every last dime of that $120 Billion.Posted by John Weidner at December 14, 2003 5:33 PM
Citing out-of-the-loop senior diplomats telling tales out of school, the Times and other opportunist hand-wringers, such as Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman, argue that the Pentagon decision and its "highly offensive language" about national security needs constitute a gaff that has made Mr. Baker's job harder, even though the White House signed off on the Pentagon decision ahead of time.
Maybe. But, personally, I don't believe a word of it.
The Iraq gifters/lenders are the same bunch who refused to contribute more than a pittance to the construction effort. Having refused voluntarily to contribute funds directly, these same players are not going to agree to do the same thing indirectly by voluntarily agreeing to debt foregiveness. THIS IS GOING TO BE A CRAMDOWN.
What Mr. Baker needed was a club and a lot of bad-cop credibility. And he got it from that Pentagon decision - especially its nasty tone and "highly offensive language." I'll bet he's a very happy debt negotiator right now....