Free invisible hit counter ProfShade: Europe Ponies up Big Bucks for Iraq

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Europe Ponies up Big Bucks for Iraq

Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune reports on another aspect of Bush's Euro-vacation:
The president's confidence also stems from the achievement of a long-elusive agreement by the 26 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization this week to support, in at least some small way, rebuilding Iraq.

This includes 10 NATO nations that abstained from the "coalition of the willing" that the U.S. assembled for the invasion of Iraq, and it includes once-vocal opponent France, which is offering some money for NATO's training of security forces for Iraq.

France's concession is small, committing an undisclosed amount to a larger, $4 million fund NATO has organized for training Iraqi security forces.

In recent weeks, according to a senior Bush administration official, holdouts Luxembourg, Greece and Germany also have agreed to contribute modest sums--ranging from 400,000 to 500,000 euros each.

"We are very pleased. For the first time in three years, we now have unity of purpose," said the official, describing this agreement as the start of a new chapter in U.S.-European relations. "There was a sense that we have had the big trans-Atlantic row over Iraq. It's time to move on. We have taken a new step towards trans-Atlantic unity."

Germany, France and Canada went on to insist their massive Iraqi aid package only be used for police whistles, white batons, gloves and those nifty safari-looking helmets that traffic cops sport. Other Euro-weenie countries issued a terse statement that read, in part: "We are giving these funds in the hopes they will be lost in the mail or, at most, be used to purchase 'Thank You' cards to the EU for spearheading this unprecedented support of the Iraqi people. If we could give less, we would, but we have minimum donation amounts on these accounts, usually reserved for animal shelters, after-school football programs and late-night public service announcements about the dangers of fast food."

All countries agreed that this massive $4M donation to the Iraqi peoples would be contingent upon unfreezing the Oil-for-Food bank accounts. "A few of my checks are still on hold, in limbo," said Chirac. "Once the U.S. ends its barbarous discrimination against the U.N. and the juice is flowing again, I think we can make our way toward kicking in a few more Euros."