News Release

* Tsunami Debt Relief * Volcker Oil-for-Food Report * Zoellick at the State Department

MARK ENGLER
Mark Engler, a writer based in New York City, is a commentator for Foreign Policy in Focus. He said today: “Those of us in wealthy nations believe that our governments donate generously to help these people. Yet many poor countries pay out more in debt service than they receive in aid — the Jubilee Debt Campaign reports that India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, and Indonesia together make over $23 billion in debt payments each year to multilateral banks and wealthy governments…. In advance of their upcoming meeting on January 12, officials from the Paris Club — a group of creditor nations — have announced that they will agree to a temporary moratorium on debt payments from affected countries…. While the U.S. is now supporting this position, the Bush administration — which aggressively pursued debt relief for Iraq — has shown little enthusiasm for going beyond a postponement of payments…” [World governments’ pledges for Tsunami aid total roughly $4.5 billion.] More Information

JOY GORDON
Author of the article in the December issue of Harper’s magazine “The U.N. is Us: Exposing Saddam Hussein’s Silent Partner,” Gordon said today: “The audits released by the Volcker Commission are far less damning than many have suggested, for the most part indicating errors that were insignificant within the context of a $60 billion program. By far the largest issues with funds involved the U.N. Compensation Commission. But the policies and procedures of the UNCC were determined by the Security Council, with the approval of the United States. Regarding the billions of dollars in illicit smuggling and kickbacks, the audit reports have little to say. Meanwhile, all of the major policies that allowed the smuggling and kickbacks to occur were those established by the Security Council — with the approval and participation of the United States. It was the Security Council — including the U.S.– that allowed Iraq to choose its trading partners.”

ANTONIA JUHASZ
Juhasz is a project director with the International Forum on Globalization. She said today: “The naming of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to the number two slot at the State Department demonstrates the ascendancy of corporate globalization policy in the Bush administration…. Zoellick has been quietly but aggressively advancing the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area. The Middle East, insulated from such agreements because of its oil wealth, has now been given a clear warning with the invasion of Iraq…. Zoellick is, after all, the man who shamelessly declared barely one week after 9/11 that the administration would be ‘countering terror with trade’ and then pushed through a series of stalled and unpopular trade agreements. Zoellick, a former member of the Project for a New American Century, … can be counted upon to aggressively pursue the Bush administration’s radical economic agenda from within the State Department.”

[Robert Zoellick was a signatory to the 1998 letter to President Clinton advocating “removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power” and urging Clinton to “act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S.” Other signatories included Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Elliott Abrams and Donald Rumsfeld.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167