Last week on a congressional delegation visit to Baghdad, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said he told Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki that Iraq should repay the United States for the war that President George W. Bush started there in 2003. “We would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the United States some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years,” Rohrabacher said.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh soon after called the U.S. embassy and requested that it ask Rohrabacher to leave Iraq. “Those people are not welcome in Iraq. They are raising a controversial issue which influences the strategic relation between us and the United States,” he said in a statement to reporters.
Despite the criticism, Rohrabacher isn’t backing down. In fact, he tweeted yesterday that he does not intend to apologize. “No apologies for suggesting payback to U.S.,” he said. The California congressman reiterated his defiance in a statement on his website:
“I do not apologize for suggesting that once prosperous, Iraq should reconsider repaying the United States for the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to liberate them from a tyrannical dictator and helping to establish a democratic government. [...] There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that the people who have benefited from our benevolence should consider repaying us for what we have given them.”
Rohrabacher also said that his delegation was not kicked out of Iraq. “We were not officially told to leave the country before we left and were never told or warned not to come back,” the statement said.
But by this logic, Rohrabacher might as well ask France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Philippines, and a whole host of other countries to repay the U.S. for the costs incurred during World War II. Yes, various governments repaid the U.S. for loans made during the war, but the countries the U.S. and its allies liberated during that war never paid the U.S. back. In fact, the U.S. government gave the Europeans money to rebuild their economies after the war. The Marshall Plan money “was in the form of grant aids that did not have to be repaid.” Perhaps Rohrabacher thinks it’s time to head over to Europe and collect.