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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] http://truthout.org/docs_03/092603E.shtml "Marshall Plan to Bush Iraqi Plan: No Comparison" t r u t h o u t | Statement West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd Wednesday 24 September 2003 Opening remarks to the Senate Appropriations Committee considering Bush Administration request for 87B additional dollars in funding for the Iraqi occupation. The American people want to know more about what the Administration has planned for Iraq, and it is the responsibility of Congress to help inform our public. But rather than explanations of the Administration's long-term plan for Iraq, we only hear comparisons to the Marshall Plan. I can understand the Administration's desire to equate in the minds of the American public Saddam Hussein's Iraq to Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. World War II invokes images of the "Greatest Generation" -- the entire country united to defeat the Axis powers, and then, after victory, stayed behind to rebuild the cities of their conquered foes. But with World War II, Japan had attacked us. The Axis Powers had declared war on us. The U.S. occupation of Germany and Japan took place in the wake of a widely supported defensive war, under a commitment to internationalism and multilateralism. We're seeing none of this in Iraq. For one, the war in Iraq was not defensive. It was a preemptive attack. Secondly, we have alienated most of the international community in fighting the war. Third, the Germans and Japanese did not resist the U.S. occupation through sabotage, assassinations, and guerilla warfare. The Marshall Plan was not a huge bill presented to Congress for its rubber-stamp approval. It was a comprehensive strategy to provide $13.3 billion to 16 countries over four years to aid in reconstruction. In current dollars, the U.S. share would be about $88.2 billion spread over four years - very nearly the same amount that has been requested by the President for one country for a period of mere months. Moreover, the total amount of aid that the President will ultimately request for Iraq is anyone's guess. When the Congress considered the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the Foreign Relations Committee held one-month of hearings, from January 8 to February 5, 1948, with the Chairman calling ninety witnesses to testify. After the Foreign Relations Committee reported legislation, the Senate further debated it for an additional two weeks. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, the Republican Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called the aid plan reported by his committee "the final product of eight months of more intensive study by more devoted minds than I have ever known to concentrate upon any one objective in all my twenty years in Congress." The Congressional Research Service states that the Marshall Plan was opened to "perhaps the most thorough examination prior to launching of any program." If only we had the patience and desire to hold more hearings and devote more study to this huge spending request for Iraq before we rush to approve it. If only this Administration would be more open to working with Congress before committing vast sums for foreign aid, as was done half a century ago. The reconstruction of Europe was undertaken in the context of spirit of internationalism, multilaterialism, and collective security that led to the formation of the United Nations, NATO, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The same can hardly be said today. And who received aid under the Marshall Plan? West Germany managed to rebuild its economy and restore its once-functioning democracy with $9.2 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars; or just 10.6 percent of all Marshall Plan funds. Great Britain, with undeniable cultural and political similarities to America, alone received 24.7 percent of the Marshall Plan funds over the course of four years, the equivalent of $21.1 billion in 1997 dollars. Yet today, we are asked to appropriate $20.3 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq for the next year alone. Moreover, these funds are not just for rebuilding bridges, but an attempt to transform a political culture very different from our own into a democracy - a form of government never before seen in those ancient lands. At least one of our intelligence agencies has grave doubts about democratizing Iraq, stating in one unclassified report, "Western-style democracy will be difficult to achieve." The $87 billion package that the President is seeking has little in common with the Marshall Plan. We should not learn our history through sound bites. Congress has an obligation to understand what this $87 billion is supposed to do for Iraq, and whether those goals can ever be achieved. We need to retain the support of the people as we face the harsh realities of post-war Iraq. Let us ask ourselves: years in the future, will the people look back and applaud the rush to pass this funding package? Perhaps the answer lies in another question: do the people, today, curse the memory of Senator Vandenburg and others for acting with such deliberation half a century ago? The President's $87 billion request is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of 166 nations. It is the beginning of a potentially enormous commitment to Iraq. We have the duty to understand the enormity of the potential consequences before we act. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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