Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

War Budget Includes Yet More Money for Israel

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

War Budget Includes Yet More Money for Israel

Article excerpt

On March 25 Bush finally presented his $74.7 billion supplemental "war budget" to Congress. The spending request includes the hush-hush military aid and loan guarantees to Israel, as well as military and economic aid to other Middle Eastern countries. For Israel the amounts are $1 billion in military grants and $9 billion in loan guarantees, to be available over four years. Israel had requested $4 billion in military grants and $8 billion in loan guarantees. Reportedly, the loan guarantees have the same conditions as the 1991 guarantees, that none of the money may be used in the West Bank and Gaza. The 1991 conditions did nothing to stop Israeli colony expansion, however, and money is still "fungible," that is, interchangeable. The amounts requested for other Middle East countries are $300 million in economic aid for Egypt; $700 million in economic aid and $406 million in military aid for Jordan; $90 million in military, aid for Bahrain; $61 million in military aid for Oman; $1 billion for Turkey; and $50 million for the West Bank and Gaza to "reduce terrorism and support the peace process."

Congress Fiddles During Inexorable March to Invade Iraq

Throughout February and early March most members of Congress appeared oblivious to the fact that the administration of President George W. Bush, in lockstep behind the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Perle/Feith cabal, was leading the country into uncharted waters with unknown consequences that threatened to undo America's foreign policy successes since World War II and magnify its failures. Congress did pass the FY 2003 appropriations bill, as described in the previous issue of this magazine, but then seemed either to not care or be too timid to try to head off the looming disaster. There were a few voices in the wilderness, especially Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). The Republican leadership, however, appeared either to agree with the rush to war or fear challenging the White House.

Except for House Minority leader Pelosi, the Democratic leadership was equally frozen into inaction. Some, such as Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Joe lieberman (D-CT), and former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), seemed to genuinely support Bush's position, while criticizing him for failing to get international support for the war effort. For the most part, however, Democratsseemed more afraid that opposing Bush would somehow hurt them in the 2004 elections than they were concerned about the country's welfare. But, reported Arab American Institute president James Zogby, a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), at the DNC's winter meeting, attended by some 400 party leaders, the most vigorous applause was given to those who spoke out against the war effort. Presidential candidate former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was quoted as questioning, "why in the world the Democratic leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq."

Among those who spoke out during late February and March against the rush to war were, in addition to those mentioned above, Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Duncan (R-TN), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), John Lewis (D-GA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), David Obey (D-WI), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), and Mark Udall (D-CO). Duncan, the only Republican on the list, described at length why this war would be contrary to such traditional conservative positions as being against huge deficit spending, against being the policeman of the world, against world government, and believing it "unfair to U.S. taxpayers and our military to put almost the entire burden of enforcing U.N. resolutions on the U.S." He pointed out that "other nations have violated U.N. resolutions; yet we have not threatened war against them. …

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