"The world is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it."
-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.
A victory for Iraq and a loss for Old Europe(?) It's hard to tell what exactly is true, but compare the first article, from the Sydney Morning Herald at about 8:30 AM, with the second, from Reuters, at about 11 AM:
Article 1: Cautious world donors fail to heed appeal from Iraq
The US hoped for big contributions on the last day of a donors conference for Iraq yesterday, amid fears the meeting would not garner anything near the $US36 billion ($51 billion) needed for the next three years.
Publicly, US officials insisted they had assurances the aid call would be heeded - even by states opposing its strategy in Iraq.
"We are feeling good. What we are hearing from countries frankly not at all supportive of the war [is that] this is something completely different," one US official said.
But the death of a US soldier in another bomb attack only highlighted the concerns of nations deterred by Iraq's uncertain political future and security issues.
Representatives from 61 countries and 19 international organisations at yesterday's conference were to seek to set up a donors' fund under the auspices of the conference co-sponsors, the World Bank and the United Nations.
They estimated Iraq would need $US36 billion for 2004 to 2007, almost three times as much as donations and loans pledged so far.
Article 2: Donors promise $40 bln for Iraq
International donors have pledged around $40 billion (24 billion pounds) in aid and loans over the next five years to help rebuild war-ravaged Iraq as the response to a U.S.-led drive for funds smashed expectations.
Donors other than the United States promised some $20 billion at the two-day conference in Madrid, Iraqi Planning Minister Mahdi Hafez told reporters.
"This is an excellent start...Most of the pledges are grants but the exact percentage will be announced later," he said.
That is on top of $20 billion promised by Washington and is far in excess of what had been expected a few weeks ago, when political divisions threatened the existence of the meeting.
U.S. officials, who had lobbied hard to persuade reluctant donors to chip in more cash, were fulsome in their praise for the conference which they said marked a turning point in international support for Iraq.
"The Iraqi people will long remember the assistance we'll provide them at this critical moment of challenge and hope," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the conference.
So, which is it? It's hard to tell whether or not the two articles are operating off of the same facts. It may be that the second article is counting the US donation as a piece of the pledge, while the first is not. But what is quite obvious is that there are certain factions--European factions--who do not want this to be seen as going well. From the first piece:
EU External Affairs Commissioner, Chris Patten...suggest[ed] that only $US5.6 billion would be raised.
He, obviously, was blatantly and outrageously wrong. Even I could have predicted that more than that would have been raised. From another article:
One European official said there was a risk that there would a "classic pledging-conference trick" of adding anything and everything together to create a global figure, but without a guarantee that all of the money would actually be in the collective pot.
"It is apples and pears, grants, loans, aid in kind — it is a ... mess," said a senior European finance official, whose country opposed the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Gee, I wonder which country that might be coughfrancecough.
On a completely unrelated note, two of the three countries who benefited most from the Marshall Plan are now doing as little as they possibly can to support Iraq. This is despicable, and I hope the rest of the world remembers what happened in Madrid yesterday better than France and Germany apparently what happened once Hitler fell.