an American invasion of Iraq imminent, nations in the region are increasingly
worried about the political, social, and economic consequences of a
second Gulf war. Not surprisingly, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, and Turkey
are demanding more money from the U.S. to offset the costs, economic
and otherwise, of such a war. Other Middle East countries are sure to
follow. Yet the more foreign aid we send to the Middle East, the more
hopelessly entangled we become in the intractable conflicts that define
it. Worse yet, the practice of buying friends casts very serious doubt
on the lofty claims that we are promoting democracy. If our plans for
Iraq will bring peace and stability to the region, why do we have to
buy off the Middle East governments that stand to benefit? The truth
is that those governments, even our ostensible allies, have very serious
doubts about the wisdom of our proposed invasion of Iraq. Money- lots
of it- makes them more amenable to our cause.
Turkey in particular has shown incredible gall in demanding
billions for its cooperation with our war efforts. Turkey shares a border
with northern Iraq, and its air bases could serve as an important staging
area for American forces. Yet Turkey is demanding a whopping $30 billion
in exchange for its support of the war and use of its airfields. Unfortunately,
the administration appears ready to accept this blackmail if a slightly
lower dollar amount can be negotiated.
This blatant shakedown gives new meaning to the term
"ally." In World War II, our allies were just that- nations
willing to share the costs and risks, even the lives of their soldiers-
to fight a war against common enemies. Today, our phony allies are bought
and paid for with billions of your tax dollars, but prove less than
trustworthy when trouble arises.
Turkey wants more than our money, however. It also wants
to control the Kurdish population in northern Iraq. The Kurds in both
Iraq and Turkey desire an independent Kurdish state, which the Turkish
government fiercely resists. Turkish officials want an agreement that
will allow thousands of their soldiers to advance into Kurdish northern
Iraq on the heels of American forces. This would be a shameful insult
to the Kurdish people, who at least have been consistent foes of Saddam
The billions we will give Turkey are just the tip of
the iceberg. The foreign aid feeding frenzy will only intensify as America
expands its role as world policeman. Already it is routine for some
nations to send negotiating teams to Washington during the appropriations
process, intent on securing the foreign aid loot to which they feel
so entitled. Just as hordes of domestic lobbyists roam the halls of
Congress seeking federal money for every conceivable special interest,
we should expect foreign lobbyists to increasingly look for money from
American taxpayers. In the new era of American empire, foreign aid spending
serves as the carrot. Iraq will get the stick, at least at first. Once
we occupy it, of course, we will spend billions there as well.
Foreign aid is not only unconstitutional, but also exceedingly unwise.
It creates the worst kind of entangling alliances that President Washington
warned about. It doesn’t buy us any real allies, but instead encourages
false friendships, dependency, and a sense of entitlement among the
recipients. It also causes resentment among nations that receive none,
or less than they feel they deserve. Above all, however, it is simply
unconscionable to tax American citizens and send their money overseas.
We have enough problems of our own here at home, and those dollars should
be returned to taxpayers or spent on legitimate constitutional activities.