U.S. to Bill Allies on Gulf : Others Must Bear Share of Billions in Costs, Bush Says
President Bush said today that the “shape of the post-Cold War world” is at stake in the Middle East and announced that he would ask other nations to help pay the multibillion-dollar expenses of the Persian Gulf crisis.
“We’re more than willing to bear our fair share of the burden . . . but we also expect others to bear their fair share,” he said at an afternoon news conference. He mentioned West Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea among the nations that will be solicited for contributions.
The Administration wants to raise about $12 billion in the first year, to cover the estimated $1 billion per month in additional military costs the United States is spending to keep its forces in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady are being sent to the Persian Gulf, Europe and Asia to seek contributions to the effort.
Bush said he had approved a plan to seek funds from the countries he named to help defray military costs and give assistance to Middle East nations suffering the most economic hardship from the Persian Gulf crisis.
Administration officials said Jordan, Turkey and Egypt would be the major recipients.
Japan today announced a $1-billion commitment and Bush noted that it didn’t take an American envoy for Japanese officials to make the offer.
“Clearly it will have some budget implications,” Bush said, adding, “I don’t feel the answer is a war tax” at home.
Reiterating his goals, including the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait and the restoration of the Kuwaiti government and the security of Saudi Arabia, he said that at stake is the “shape of the post-Cold War world.”
“Anyone with a stake in international order has an interest in assuring that all of us succeed,” he said.
Bush told reporters he was very concerned about the fate of the 3,000 Americans who have been barred from leaving Iraq and Kuwait, and added, “But we cannot permit hostage taking to shape the foreign policy of this country.” The State Department was expressing anger that bureaucratic steps had been imposed by Iraq on its offer to release women and children.
Bush was asked about the comments of Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who has said he believes the United States should seek the overthrow of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Lugar has said that even if Kuwaiti rulers are returned to power, Hussein could pose a future threat.
“It seems to me important that Saddam Hussein must either leave or be removed,” Lugar said on Wednesday.
Bush said he had “great respect” for Lugar but he did not endorse the view that Hussein had to be deposed now, no matter what happens with Kuwait.
Asked if he agreed with some congressmen who said the chances of fighting were diminishing the longer the crisis lasted, Bush said it was difficult to predict what Hussein might do.
“It’s so hard to answer that question because of the unpredictable nature of Saddam Hussein himself,” the President said. “It’s very hard to measure intentions. . . . I don’t know what is in this man’s mind.”
Bush said he had raised the very same question himself earlier today in a meeting with analysts and “specialists on the Arab world.”