Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says the US does not owe reparations to Iraq. He said “we must first and foremost look out for safety here in America.”
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA: Senior Editor Paul Jay discusses the Petraeus report on Iraq with Phyllis Bennis.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: I don’t hear the word reparations anywhere in the discourse.
BENNIS: We have huge debts to the people of Iraq. We owe compensation. We owe reparations. We owe support for long-term international peacekeeping support if that’s what the people of Iraq choose.
JAY: We asked Chuck Schumer this question a few months ago.
REPORTER: Do we owe something to the Iraqi people other than just getting out? Do we owe them reparations for having brought about this war?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: I don’t believe that. I believe that we have to first and foremost look out for safety here in America. That’s the auspices under which the president fought this war, and that ought to be our number one focus.
So why isn’t this issue of reparations even in the discourse? I don’t even hear it much in the antiwar movement. It is part of the discourse of the antiwar movement. It’s what we’ve been calling for for years now, that after step one, the withdrawal of the troops and the closing of the bases, comes meeting the obligations we have to Iraqi society, to the people of Iraq. Those obligations didn’t begin with this invasion; they began with the war of 1991 and the sanctions that were imposed in 1990, the 12 years of crippling economic sanctions that were imposed in the name of the United Nations but under the control of the United States, the sanctions that shredded the social fabric of this once wealthy, once very middle class Arab society that had the best education system in the Arab world, the best medical system in the Arab world, that had the smallest gap between wealth and poverty of any society in the Arab world, despite a dictatorship that was brutal in terms of the political rights that it denied to its own population. That’s something that we have to take responsibility for. Yes, it was a dictatorship, a dictatorship installed and kept in power largely by the United States and our allies.
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