Iraq's Odious Debts

Liberation means freedom from debt

Dr. Eric Herring
Bristol Evening Post
March 29, 2003

Dr Eric Herring, senior lecturer in international politics at Bristol University, argues that the liberation of the Iraqi people means freedom from both Saddam Hussein and the crippling debt of war WE are told that this is a war to liberate the people of Iraq – that is why so many people support it.

People who think the war is illegal and immoral still hope that the people of Iraq will be freed.

What is not being spelt out is exactly what liberating the people of Iraq involves.

Bush and Blair must be held to account for every element of it.

It is their war but, as taxpayers, you are paying for it. Your soldiers and increasing numbers of Iraqis are being killed, injured and traumatised for it.

What is needed is a manifesto for the liberation of the Iraqi people.

In this column over the next few days, I will outline what I think should be in it.

First, liberation for Iraq means liberation from Saddam’s debt.

We are told continually and correctly that Saddam has abused and oppressed his people for decades.

It offends basic moral principles that Iraqis who have suffered under Saddam are also being made to foot the bill for their suffering.

That adds massive insult to terrible injury.

So Iraq’s debt – more than 130 billion – must be paid by those who sucked up to Saddam, meaning many Governments, banks and companies, including western ones.

If the US and Britain can find 70 billion at the drop of a hat for a war, they can find twice as much to liberate Iraq from Saddam’s debt.

Bush and Blair say over and over again that Iraq’s oil will be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people. But it will not be if it is handed over to other people to pay for Saddam’s debt.

Secondly, liberation for Iraq means liberation from the compensation that Iraq is being required to pay for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Ordinary Iraqis had no control over his decision, but it is they who have already paid 18 billion and still have to pay 18 billion more.

In addition, the United Nations is considering further claims totalling 217 billion.

Again, if Bush and Blair can find the money for war they can find it for this.

If they are not serious about this, they are not serious about liberating the Iraqi people.

Instead, the oppressor Saddam will have been replaced by the exploiters Bush and Blair.

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