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IRAQ and George Soros

Billionaire investor George Soros said he was setting up a watchdog group to guard against any abuses in how the US manages Iraq's oil resources while it occupies Baghdad. Soros is an outspoken critic of President George Bush's doctrine of preventive war, which justifies an attack on any country that the US deems a threat, as occurred in Iraq. Soros also said he hoped Iraq would not repay all its foreign debt stemming from Saddam Hussein's years in power, in order to discourage loans to dictators. "I think that would send a very healthy signal to the financial markets and others that extending credit to dictatorships is not without risk." Citing reports that a handful of US corporations were winning huge reconstruction contracts from Washington without competitive bidding, Soros said many people around the world feared the US might abuse its authority while it and close ally Britain occupied post-war Iraq. A US-drafted resolution pending in the UN Security Council would give the US and Britain wide-ranging powers to run Iraq and control its oil industry until a permanent government was set up, a process that could take years. He said he was planning to set up a watchdog group because the draft resolution failed to provide sufficient safeguards. He called on the Security Council's 14 other members to press for changes in the draft that would give the UN a greater role in monitoring Iraq's oil exploitation during the occupation, and he encouraged the US to fully disclose all it was doing with Iraq's oil resources (Reuters, 5/24/03). Since Soros made his billions speculating in currencies, I have long wondered how popular he was with the US and British governments. I doubt if his watchdog group will endear him to them. Since Iraq has huge debts with France and Russia, he presumably has few government friends there either.

Ronald Hilton - 5/24/03