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U.S. Throwing Billion$ At Allies For War Support

by Thalif Deen

U.S. Turned Financial Screws For Unanimous UN Vote Against Iraq (Nov 2002)
(IPS) UNITED NATIONS -- The United States is employing its economic heft to round up the political support and UN Security Council votes it needs for a war on Iraq, according to political experts and diplomats here.

"It is widely known that the United States makes promises to get votes, whether those are foreign aid or access to Iraq's oil," says Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

The hefty $26 billion U.S. aid package to Turkey, which is now in the works between the two military allies, is an example of U.S. checkbook diplomacy, he pointed out.

"Certainly in the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq, money played a large role in getting approval for Egypt and other countries," Ratner told IPS.

Within the 15-member UN Security Council, the United States needs nine positive votes -- and no vetoes -- to pass a second resolution that would authorize a military attack on Iraq.

The British-U.S. resolution, which is expected to be introduced this week, will have four sure-fire 'yes' votes: the United States and Britain (both with veto powers), along with Spain and Bulgaria.

Syria and Germany are expected to vote against military action; France has threatened to use its veto, while China and Russia, which are also veto-wielding members, may possibly abstain or even use their vetoes.

The remaining six countries in the Security Council -- non-permanent members Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Angola, Cameroon and Guinea -- have not made any public commitments or openly indicated how they will vote.

The political lobbying, according to one Third World diplomat, is not taking place at the United Nations, but at various capitals where Washington is applying heavy pressure.

President George W. Bush has already phoned two heads of state: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos seeking their support.

According to Angop, the Angolan news agency, dos Santos has also received phone calls from Vice President Dick Cheney and French President Jacques Chirac, who is lobbying the six nations to vote against the resolution.

Angop said the United States has asked Portugal's Prime Minister Durao Barroso to intervene because of his close relationship with dos Santos.

"If the United States gets the required nine votes -- and the resolution also gets vetoed by France -- Washington may still claim it has a moral majority on its side," the diplomat said.

That argument, he pointed out, may appease warmongers, but it is an argument the United States will not accept when it vetoes any future resolution against Israel, as it often has in the past, he added.

The last Security Council resolution against Israel -- condemning the country for the killings of UN humanitarian workers -- had 14 votes in favor but was vetoed by the United States, said the diplomat. "The U.S. argument about a moral majority may come back to haunt it one fine day," he added.

U.S. officials regularly assure U.S. citizens that they have widespread support from numerous partners for an attack on Iraq, says Natalie Goldring, director of the program on global security and disarmament at the University of Maryland.

"But they don't tell us how much that support is going to cost us," she told IPS. Goldring said that potential partners such as Turkey are "strong-arming" Washington. "They know we've had a difficult time putting together a coalition to fight Saddam Hussein."

"They have leverage over us, and they are using it effectively. As war approaches, the packages seem to be getting larger," she said. "This is political blackmail."

On Wednesday, the Turkish government rejected the $26 billion U.S. package -- $20 billion dollars in loans and $6 billion in outright grants -- as inadequate.

Turkey says it wants $10 billion in grants, but the United States has refused to sweeten the "take-it-or-leave-it" deal.

In return for the aid package, Turkey was expected to permit U.S. forces to operate from its territory in the event of war.

But if Turkey, which is not a member of the Security Council, refuses to cooperate with the United States, Washington has threatened to penalize its long-time ally, which currently receives about $17.5 million in military grants and $2.7 million dollars for military education and training of Turkish troops. The recession-racked country could lose all of it, as did Yemen when it voted against the U.S.-sponsored UN resolution for an invasion of Iraq in 1991.

In the Security Council line-up, most of the 10 non-permanent members already receive substantial U.S. economic or military aid and don't want to lose it.

The largest benefactor is Bulgaria, which has received about $31.5 million in U.S. military grants during 2001-2003, according to the latest 'Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations 2003'. Under a program called Support for East European Democracy (SEED), the United States has provided an additional $97.1 million dollars in aid to the former Communist state during that period.

After its decision to cooperate with Washington in the global war against terrorism, Pakistan is receiving $50 million in outright U.S. military grants in 2003, compared to zero dollars over the last decade. Washington has also waived long-time restrictions on arms and military assistance to Pakistan.

Angola now receives about $100,000 annually from the United States for military education and training, and about $19 million in development assistance, including funds for anti-terrorism activities and de-mining.

Cameroon receives about $200,000 yearly for military training and education and is also eligible to receive surplus U.S. arms cost-free under the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. It also receives U.S. trade benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Washington provides the African country with about $26 million in economic aid annually, including $250,000 for military education and training. The country also received about $3 million in outright military grants for arms purchases in 2001 and is also eligible for trade benefits under AGOA.

The only two Latin American countries on the Security Council are Mexico and Chile. The United States provides about $500,000 annually for military training of Chilean soldiers and about $1.5 million in outright military grants in 2002-2003.

Mexico, which the State Department describes as "the most important U.S. foreign policy priority in Latin America", will take in over $44 million in development assistance this year, including grants for military training.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington has no plans to "strong arm" members of the Security Council.

"We present our case. We don't threaten. We don't suggest that blackmail is in order. And hopefully, the power of our argument will persuade them to vote with us."

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Albion Monitor February 21, 2003 (

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