News Release

* Iraq Occupation Bill to the Taxpayer * Sanctions on Syria * World Economic Forum in Jordan * Aristide and South Africa * Indian Election

DOUG HENWOOD
Author of the book After the New Economy, Henwood said today: “I feel a little callous about talking about the economic impact of the war in Iraq, which seems like an afterthought next to the human toll. But at a time when civilian budgets are being cut at every level, when clinics are closing and professors at our public universities have to pay for their own photocopying because there’s allegedly not enough money, it’s amazing how much we’re spending….Military costs so far are about $143 billion, with the tab rising $4-5 billion a month. Reconstruction has cost almost $20 billion so far, with another $50-100 billion needed. If the occupation goes on for three years, which is what the military pundits say is likely, the total bill could come to $362 billion. Add to that an estimated 0.5 percent knocked off GDP growth because of high oil prices, and that’s another $50 billion. Total it all up, and the bill comes to nearly $4,000 a household (not including interest). I wonder how people would react if they got a bill from Washington for that amount.”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Author of the article “The Syrian Accountability Act and the Triumph of Hegemony,” Zunes is associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and author of the book Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism.
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JAMES E. JENNINGS
President of Conscience International, Jennings is a former professor of Middle East history and a humanitarian aid executive who has worked extensively in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Recently he led two medical relief teams to the earthquake-devastated city of Bam, Iran. He said today: “The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, passed overwhelmingly in December and implemented this week by President Bush’s executive order, imposes sanctions on Syria. The promoters of the act … even had the audacity to use the same dubious rationale that led to the U.S. aggression against Iraq in the first place, namely terrorism and WMD. Syria is therefore being sanctioned over what are mainly unsubstantiated allegations….”
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JILLIAN SCHWEDLER
Professor of politics at the University of Maryland, Schwedler wrote “Don’t Blink: Jordan’s Democratic Opening and Closing” and other articles on the Mideast. She said today: “The World Economic Forum taking place in Jordan reflects an ongoing focus on economic reforms — and a particular type of economic reforms — over political reforms. The talk is of prosperity more than freedoms; it’s part of the World Bank – Washington consensus economic model.”
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DESIREE FERGUSON
DAVID GESPASS
Ferguson is a staff attorney with the National Conference of Black Lawyers. Gespass is a lawyer with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. They were part of a delegation that met with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide last month in Jamaica, where he has been living under a grant of temporary asylum. The Aristides were just granted asylum by South Africa, which called for an investigation into the removal of the Aristides from Haiti.
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J. MOHAN RAO
Rao is professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of several recent articles on globalization and its impacts in India and elsewhere in the Third World. He said today: “The defeat of the Hindu BJP Party has given the lie to its claim that India is ‘shining,’ meaning that the broad population has benefited from recent economic growth. While the information technologies sector in India now employs half a million people in India, the overall work force is half a billion people. In spite of official numbers to the contrary, there is a rise of inequality in India and this disparity, with the rise of a consumption-oriented middle class, is being broadcast into people’s homes. The just-defeated BJP Party allowed for privatization and foreign investment, and neglected the rural sector in the name of free trade. This has not helped most of the people in India and this election is a reflection of that.”

ANGANA CHATTERJI
Associate professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, is author of the forthcoming book Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India. She said today: “The return of the Congress [Party] symbolizes the return of dynastic rule, with Sonia Gandhi at the helm. We should not be critical of her because she is ‘foreign’ or ‘white,’ rather because, after a decade-long tenure in Indian politics as the leader of the Congress Party, she has yet to demonstrate competency politically and intellectually…. The cadre of Hindu fundamentalist organizations have indicated that the BJP in power had been too soft and the agenda for a Hindu state must be aggressively pursued in or out of electoral power…. The elections also represent a moral desire for change; this sends a message that government complicity in the murder of minorities, as occurred when 1,500 plus Muslims were torched in Gujarat in 2002, will not be condoned by the Indian people.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020