November 21, 2004

Writing off Iraq's Debts

It seems like the US was shooting for an 80% write off of Saddam era debts and the Paris Club has generally agreed to an 80% write-off of Iraq's debts. This includes "old europe" mainstays, France and Germany. The one fly in the ointment is Russia, which neglected to send a delegation with the power to actually, you know, agree to anything, giving Putin a second bite at the apple in Moscow as he quietly, privately talks with the US.

So why did they do it? Why did they cut a deal that satisfied the "Texas cowboy"? Conventional analysis that Bush hatred makes it impossible for there to be progress is completely impotent at answering this question. Perhaps that's an indication that hatred of GWB, his administration, and the large chunks of the US that sent him back to the White House is a bit overstated?

My own opinion is that simple self-interest is the root cause of the write-down, just like pretty much every write-down of debts, whether by a state or by an individual. Iraq couldn't afford to pay everybody back, the prospects of a new government rising that would make good on the Saddam era debts is virtually nil, and writing down the debt makes it more likely that the Iraqi economy will come back to life enough that the 20% that remains owed will actually be paid off.

It's self-interest for the most part which won this agreement. Let's keep that in mind in our heated discussions over whether the US has lost all influence. We dont' actually need that much influence to get what we want because, much of the time, what we want is just what's sensible.

Posted by TMLutas at November 21, 2004 01:18 PM