Friday, February 21
The Martial Plan
Paul Krugman, New York Times, February 21, 2003
The Marshall Plan was America's finest hour. After World War I, the victors did what victors usually do: they demanded reparations from the vanquished. But after World War II America did something unprecedented: it provided huge amounts of aid, helping both its allies and its defeated enemies rebuild.
... And they are certainly following a very different strategy today.
It's not that the Bush administration is always stingy. In fact, right now it is offering handouts right and left. Most notably, it has offered the Turkish government $26 billion in grants and loans if it ignores popular opposition and supports the war.
Some observers also point out that the administration has turned the regular foreign aid budget into a tool of war diplomacy. Small countries that currently have seats on the U.N. Security Council have suddenly received favorable treatment for aid requests, in an obvious attempt to influence their votes. Cynics say that the "coalition of the willing" President Bush spoke of turns out to be a "coalition of the bought off" instead. [...]
Of course, postwar reconstruction in Europe and Japan wasn't just a matter of money; America can also be proud of the way it built democratic institutions. Alas, the Bush administration's postwar political plans are even more alarming than its economic nonchalance.
Turkey has reportedly been offered the right to occupy much of Iraqi Kurdistan. Yes, that's right: as we move to liberate the Iraqis, our first step may be to deliver people who have been effectively independent since 1991 into the hands of a hated foreign overlord. Moral clarity! [...]