Threats on Iraq, IMF Bailouts for S. America, and SCHIP Waivers

The Foreign Minister from Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud, the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, all oppose a war between the U.S. and Iraq. Why? Each nation’s government must have their reasons. Perhaps a U.S. war with Iraq will force Saudi Arabia to choose sides? Saudi Arabia has good trade relations with the U.S., while at the same time, it is a leader of the mideast community. Perhaps the U.K. has similar reasons? They probably prefer not being forced to be involved in a war when its own economy is in turmoil? So, then, how does Germany fit into the picture? At any rate, the U.S. is currently developing ideas with the Kurds, the only force inside Iraq. The Pentagon hopes to duplicate the success of the Northern Alliance in the war against Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Kurds have been abandoned by the U.S. before. How likely will they be willing to accept U.S. aid again? Also, from an editorial… “The discovery that 15 of the 19 hijackers Sept. 11 were Saudi Arabian was a shock to Americans who had seen the kingdom as a solid ally despite its deep cultural differences with the United States. The alliance remained after 9/11, but the U.S. view of the Saudis began to shift. This week’s disclosure that a briefing for a Pentagon advisory board called the kingdom an adversary of the United States and a backer of terrorism strains the ties even more. The Bush administration hurried to distance itself from the comments and reassure the Saudis. But that doesn’t mean either nation can entirely dismiss the harsh views in the briefing, given by a Rand Corp. analyst.” Despite the need for action against terrorism, I agree with the world community when they express the U.S. needing more “tolerance and moderation” in its policy towards perceived threats.

In other news, “The International Monetary Fund agreed Wednesday to its largest bailout ever, a $30-billion loan to Brazil that comes amid growing social unrest and political upheaval in South America.” The IMF treasury is dependent upon the donations (and, therefore, approval) of the U.S. After a tour by the U.S. Treasury Secretary (Paul H. O’Neill), the Bush Administration is showing a change in its nationalistic policy. It’s good to see the figurehead of a conservative group conceding to the inevitability of globalization. Argentina and Uruguay also received bailouts from the IMF. Apparently, these countries have suffered from violent protests, a culmination of public frustration since the financial collapse last year. By loaning so much money to these countries, has the U.S. managed to make these countries dependent upon its support? These loans are not free money. There is interest attached to them. Moreover, these are not just individuals. Nations are receiving these loans, nations with governments who are members of international communities (i.e., the U.N., MERCOSUR, etc.) Could the U.S. not use these loans as a leverage for more favorable positions in the international communities?

In other news, “A government report released Wednesday faulted the Bush administration for allowing federal funds to be diverted from programs serving poor children. The GAO report was issued just days after a separate study found that nearly 5 million poor children who qualify for the SCHIP program remain unenrolled and uninsured.” A spokesperson from Health and Human Services said that children do not receive aid from the SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program). Yet, about 40 million low-income families and children received health coverage last year under Medicaid and SCHIP. Apparently, SCHIP is a federally-sponsored health insurance program for children whose families are not poor enough for Medicaid. Goodness! A family has to be “poor enough” to receive health coverage. Of course, I have to decide whether health coverage is a right or a privilege. At any rate, the purpose of the federal waiver is to allow states more control. California, for instance, is using this flexibility to expand its Healthy Families program. Arizona is going to reallocate its unused SCHIP funds to cover adults who have no children. Utah expanded its Medicaid program and Illinois used its flexibility to expand prescription drug coverage to low-income seniors. So, I can’t disagree with the Administration’s decision because states are abusing the waivers. These funds are being used to help people. HHS is asserting that adults are getting health coverage at the expense of children. The burden of proof, I believe, lies on the states to prove SCHIP funds can be better spent elsewhere.

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