Washington, March 26 (Reuters): It can pay to be a member of President George W. Bush’s coalition against Iraq.
Wrapped into the $75 billion war budget he proposed to Congress yesterday were grants and loans worth billions of dollars for what he called “partners and friends” in West Asia, including Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Assistance is also being offered to many less obvious members of Bush’s so-called “coalition of the willing” from Afghanistan and Colombia to the Philippines and Slovakia, which he said will help them “wage the broader war on terror.”.
“Their economies are directly affected by the war and we are doing what we can to help them,” an official said, noting that many countries supportive of the war effort were left out of the war budget. Critics derided US dollar-diplomacy as a bullying tactic to get less well-off countries to do Washington’s bidding.
Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, called Bush’s coalition of the willing “C-O-W for short.”
“It appears to me that the US is the ‘cow’ — the cash cow in this case. We are the ones being milked,” Byrd said. According to White House documents, here’s how some US allies would benefit from Bush’s budget plan, which must still be approved by Congress:
Israel: $1 billion in direct military assistance and $9 billion in loan guarantees that could help it weather the economic shock of a war with Iraq. Israel had requested nearly $4 billion in direct military aid.
Jordan: $700 million in economic aid, including $250 million to address Jordan’s “most pressing budgetary needs and debt service obligations.” It would also receive $406 billion in military aid.
Egypt: $300 million in economic grants, a portion of which may be used to secure up to $2 billion in loan guarantees.
Pakistan: $175 million for border security and to buy aircraft and radar systems.
Afghanistan: $127 million would help the Afghan government combat terrorism; $170 million would be used to train and equip the Afghan National Army; millions more would fund reconstruction efforts.
West Bank and Gaza: $50 million in direct support to “reduce terrorism and support the peace process.”
Colombia: $34 million to combat drug trafficking and terrorist activity. “Its stability is a linchpin of stability in the region,” an administration official said of the Colombian aid.
Bush’s war budget will also provide $90 million to Bahrain; $61.5 million to Oman, $30 million to Djibouti, and $15 million each to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Other beneficiaries include Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Philippines, according to White House documents.