President Bush is sticking to his guns — if he has his way, US tax dollars for Iraqi reconstruction won’t be going directly to Russian, French, or German firms:
President Bush is not backing down and today defended the contracting restrictions. “The expenditure of U.S. dollars will reflect the fact that U.S. troops and other troops risk their life … ,” Bush said, as quoted by The Washington Post. “It’s very simple. Our people risk their lives. Coalition — friendly coalition folks risk their lives. And therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that. And that’s what the U.S. taxpayers expect.”
This seems to fly in the face of a Los Angeles Times article today that indicated Bush was taking a softer approach in light of outcry over the order. “President Bush phoned the leaders of France, Germany and Russia and promised to ‘keep lines of communication open’ to discuss which countries would be allowed to bid, a White House official said. Bush had placed the calls to urge them to help restructure Iraq’s massive debt, but that seemed less likely given the anger over the policy,” the newspaper reported.
Even if this policy runs afoul of Iraqi debt forgiveness, something tells me the new Iraqi government — no matter what form it takes — won’t see repaying Saddam’s weapons suppliers as an early priority.
That’s called “win-win.”