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December 17, 2004 6:01 AM   Subscribe

US to forgive Iraq’s 4 billion-dollar debt - so, I'm curious as to the benefit of such an action. A "bilateral agreement" was signed - if this is our part, what's theirs?
posted by FormlessOne (36 comments total)

 
This is part of the Paris Club agreement, and the theory is the debt burden is hindering postwar reconstruction; less of a hinderance than things continually exploding but still. It's not just the US, the Paris Club consists of Austria, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
posted by zeoslap at 6:08 AM on December 17, 2004


Understood - I took "bilateral" to mean "an agreement between Paris Club participants and Iraq." If they meant "between members of the Paris Club", wouldn't it be "multilateral?"
posted by FormlessOne at 6:16 AM on December 17, 2004


My point is that there has to be a communicated benefit of some form for the Paris Club members in order to get them to collectively forgive some $13 billion dollars in debt, but I can't seem to find that benefit out anywhere. Chirac said it best: "How would you explain to these people that ... we are going to do more for Iraq than we have done in 10 years for the 37 poorest and most indebted countries in the world?"

And, that still leaves some $27 billion for which Iraq is still on the hook...
posted by FormlessOne at 6:21 AM on December 17, 2004


The Paris Club?

Sounds too French...
posted by SweetJesus at 6:36 AM on December 17, 2004


Dear Iraq,

Sorry about completely destroying all your infrastructure and killing thousands of your people. To make it up to you, we're going to waive the finance charges.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:40 AM on December 17, 2004


if this is our part, what's theirs?

Convert to Chrtistianity.
posted by nofundy at 6:41 AM on December 17, 2004


Paris Club. That sounds like a good idea.

*goes to the bank to get a bunch of ones*


I'll just chalk up the whole 'bilateral agreement' thing to diplomatic-speak. It's no different than the way executives talk. It sounds good to the media, but it doesn't fool anyone.
posted by Arch Stanton at 6:42 AM on December 17, 2004


Actually doesn't sound like a bad idea. Defeated, rebuilding countries with huge economic problems have historically turned to violence and aggression against racial groups and other countries. As opposed to the 'equal opportunity' violence and aggression going on right now.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 6:47 AM on December 17, 2004


Where did this debt come from, anyway? Is there any reason the iraqi people who were liberated from an evil dictator should be responsible for Saddam's debt?
posted by ph00dz at 6:56 AM on December 17, 2004


Considering that France is unwilling to forgive all of Iraq's debt I suspect that this gesture from the Bush Government is a way of saying "neener neener" at Chirac.

Of course, the big question is: where does the money come from. Does that $4 billion just get tacked on to our national debt, or what? I know nothing about international finance, so I'm genuinely curious here. I can only assume that Iraq, at some point, got $4 billion worth of goods and services from the US (directly from the government, or from a/several corporations?) on credit. If we forgive the debt, where did the money actually come from? I know nothing about this, but given the government's new habit of sticking us working stiffs with the bill I'll bet its going to come out of my pocket.

I also note that the Bush government's big talk about how Iraq can easily pay for its own rebuilding seems to have dissapeared. The opposition needs to make a daily ritual of asking when Iraq can start paying for itself like Bush said it would.
posted by sotonohito at 6:57 AM on December 17, 2004


Convert to Chrtistianity.

Careful, the mere suggestion we're there to convert the heathens can be construed as defamation of Jesus' character.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:14 AM on December 17, 2004


I wonder if this includes the war reparations to Kuwait.
posted by comraderaoul at 7:17 AM on December 17, 2004


if this is our part, what's theirs?

I would guess that their task is to go to the bank and ask to have their monthly payments to the rest of the world halved.

Of course, with web banking these days, Iraq could do this from the comfort of their own home.
posted by Timeless at 7:35 AM on December 17, 2004


I'm in favor of debt relief, I just wish there was even a chance any other nation on the planet was going to get this generosity from the United States.

Iraq is like the brand new kitten we got for Christmas. Nothing's too good for Fluffy- the best food, all the stuff Fluffy wants. Meanwhile the old cat is huddling in a cardboard box by the fridge wondering if people will show it a moment or two of attention before it dies next month.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:40 AM on December 17, 2004


I thought Iraq's oil fields were going to pay for everything?
posted by LinemanBear at 7:42 AM on December 17, 2004


Case in point: today marks 100 days since Colin Powell declared that genocide was happening in Sudan. But who cares- let's only care about the cute NEW kitten!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:44 AM on December 17, 2004


XQUZYPHYR, your analogy is only fair if the cute NEW kitten got fist fucked first and was presently enjoying a bit of sodomy.
posted by substrate at 7:47 AM on December 17, 2004


America, please stop giving your new kitten toxic waste flea dips!
posted by Vulpyne at 7:47 AM on December 17, 2004


The article says:

“The signing of the debt cancellation agreement is the bilateral agreement that implements the United States’ part of the Paris Club debt-reduction agreement reached November 21, 2004,” the statement said.

It's bilateral between the US and Iraq, and not the Paris Club as a whole and Iraq (which would be multilateral).

if this is our part, what's theirs? I don't think there has to be an Iraqi response, in the sense of quid pro quo; although you could maybe say that Iraq has agreed to have its debt with the US foregiven.
posted by carter at 7:48 AM on December 17, 2004


Does that $4 billion just get tacked on to our national debt, or what?

I'd bet dollars to donuts it does, just like bad debt is a cost of business for anyone. But it'll get tacked on in such a way that it doesn't change the deficit numbers or the cost-of-war figures, just like many of the other accounting cheats Bush uses to get by.
posted by fungible at 7:48 AM on December 17, 2004


XQUZYPHYR, you just made me very sad.
For shame.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 7:52 AM on December 17, 2004


If this had been announced in November, I'll bet it would have made quite an interesting little sound bite.

"Hey middle-america, remember those people you hate, Bush just gave them 4 billion of your hard-earned money."
posted by milovoo at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2004


"How would you explain to these people that ... we are going to do more for Iraq than we have done in 10 years for the 37 poorest and most indebted countries in the world?"

Yeah, but I bet those 37 countries don't have WMD, vast oil fields that will help finance restructuring, responsible leadership, a burgeoning democracy, and last (but surely not least) peace.
posted by purephase at 8:07 AM on December 17, 2004


I think the time is ripe for an updated version of The Mouse That Roared.

I see Ben Kingsley as the out-of-work actor tricked into playing a violent dictator, Omar Sharif as the elderly king who reluctantly leaves his luxurious Paris exile to make heart-wrenching pleas to the UN on behalf of his oppressed people, and George Clooney and Julia Roberts as the US journalists--battling former lovers a la Hepburn and Tracy, of course--who uncover the whole scam.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2004


Sweet bleeding jesus, cut the damned USA a break already! It seems to me (as an outsider, and no fan of the Bush administration's foreign policy handling) that the general idea is that they flat-out, no exceptions, can do NO RIGHT.

Forgive a debt? Fuck them, they didn't forgive all of them!
Make a policy announcement before an election? Fuck them, it was just a ploy to win votes.
Make a policy announcement after an election? Fuck them, it was just to avoid losing votes.
Invade a sovereign... okay, that one I'm onside with.

And so on...

Bloody hell, people, what is it that you want?

Okay, I know I should just let PoliticsFilter slide off my back, but sometimes this shit just makes me mad. Same thing happens with any government -- it really is a "Damned if you do, and just trying to sucker us into liking you for a moment if you don't" thing, and it gets old after a while.
posted by ChrisR at 9:55 AM on December 17, 2004


ChrisR hates shiny new kittens. :-)

Where did this debt come from, anyway? Is there any reason the american people who could be liberated from the evil dictator should be responsible for Bush's debt?
posted by ph00dz at 6:56 AM PST on December 17


Yeah, what ph00dz said!
posted by nofundy at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2004


Oh give me a fucking break, ChrisR. You know why we're not proud of this? Because we've been FUCKING UP FOR TWO YEARS.

Gloating about relieving Iraq's debt after what we've done to that country for the last year and a half is like saying how great you are for bringing someone to a hospital after raping them.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2004


Dear ChrisR,

Okay, how about we give you the $4 billion debt that's being added to the already grotesque debt that Bush has run up?

The issue is that Bush doesn't care in the least about the damage he's doing and done, so long as his numbers look passable, his masters are making money hand over fist and he keeps Dicky's bowl of fetuses full.

We've got Saddam in custody, let's give him the damn bill.
posted by fenriq at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2004


ChrisR: To a large extent you are right. I am predisposed to see absolutely everything the Bush government does as being bad, short sighted, stupid, or a combination of the three. Of course, given that he has yet to implement a policy that isn't bad, short sighted, stupid, or a combination of those three I hardly feel unjustified in making that assumption.

Additionally, screw him. I didn't see GWB or any of his supporters bewailing the bad treatment given to Clinton during the eight years he was daily attacked by ravenous attack Conservatives. If they impeached Bush I'd be willing to call it even. Until then anything the government does will be assumed to be wrong until proven right; and do you know what, I don't feel bad about that in the slightest.
posted by sotonohito at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2004


Bloody hell, people, what is it that you want?

- Not to pay Iraq's debt.
- Out of this war.
- GWB out of office.
- The lies to stop.

For starters. Didn't want the war. Don't want to pay for it.
posted by xammerboy at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2004


U.S. forgives debt.
U.S. gets oil worth more than debt.
posted by nearo at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2004


Feh.

A) I like kittens, although shiny ones would creep me out.

B) I see few opportunities for common ground here. I figure a small step is better than nothing. If you as a people feel that your government screwed up by going into that war (which I feel it did as well) then, as a democracy, sorry folks, but you're responsible too, and why in the hell should you not make reparations, in the form of forgiving the debt?

I don't expect that you'd be happy about it, and I wouldn't be either, but that's how government works. It might not say precisely what you want it to, but like it or not it does speak for you. Better luck next time, but do you really think that the two parties in the US are different on any fundamental level?

What peeves me more is that this excoriation of the bush government is coming from the same camp that screams about forgiving debts but apparently only ones for popular causes.

Anyway, whatever. I'm not USian, nor do I particularly care anymore, my flash of intense irritation with the situation is over now. Back to your regularly scheduled bush-bashing, with the expectation that in general I'm probably going to agree with you.
posted by ChrisR at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2004


About my student loans...
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:14 PM on December 17, 2004


Where did this debt come from, anyway? Is there any reason the iraqi people who were liberated from an evil dictator should be responsible for Saddam's debt?

It's the way things are done.

If every time a leader changed, a country decided it was not going to honor the debts of a previous leader, America, a nation of borrowers, would be in serious trouble...
posted by bugmuncher at 9:20 AM on December 18, 2004


"Hey middle-america, remember those people you hate, Bush just gave them 4 billion of your hard-earned money."

Just like he gave the Taliban $6B during his first few months in office...

But hell, who cares if it gets tagged onto our national deficit or not? Ronnie *proved* that deficits don't matter...

and they'll be back for another 4 years after this one's over, too!
the other thing that ronnie proved was that Americans *never* learn from their mistakes...

posted by vhsiv at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2004


All your oil belong to us?
posted by pumpkinhead at 4:26 AM on December 19, 2004


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