Bri­tain free from WWII pay­ments

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Al Webb

LON­DON — More than six decades af­ter the fact, Bri­tain has fi­nally paid back the bil­lions of dol­lars it had bor­rowed from the United States and Canada to help pay for re­build­ing the coun­try af­ter World War II.

At the click of a few com­puter keys in Lon­don on the last busi­ness day of 2006, $83.25 mil­lion was sent elec­tron­i­cally wing­ing to Wash­ing­ton and $22.7 mil­lion to Ottawa, to free Bri­tain from an­nual in­stall­ments it oc­ca­sion­ally has strug­gled to pay.

The orig­i­nal loan of $4.34 bil­lion — the equiv­a­lent of $27 bil­lion in to­day’s money — was ne­go­ti­ated by a Lon­don team headed by eco­nomic mas­ter­mind John May­nard Keynes in 1945 to stave off the bank­ruptcy that posed a se­ri­ous threat to Bri­tain in the wake of the war’s wreck­age.

The Cana­dian share of the loan was $1.2 bil­lion.

“Speaker Pelosi and the Demo­cratic lead­er­ship can no longer tell us what is on the ta­ble,” Mrs. Shee­han said. “We are the ones that put them in power and they are not in­clud­ing the peace move­ment. [. . . ] It needs to be at least in­cluded in the dis­cus­sion.”

She de­manded the elim­i­na­tion of fund­ing for the war, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and im­peach­ment of Pres­i­dent Bush for what she called “lies” to jus­tify the war.

Mrs. Shee­han was lead­ing about 75oth­er­slob­by­ing­con­gres­sion­alof­fices when they hap­pened upon the press con­fer­ence. The Democrats were there to present new ethics pro­pos­als as part of the 100-hour agenda with which they planned to be­gin the House ma­jor­ity.

“Iraq is a high pri­or­ity for Democrats,” said Pelosi spokes­woman Jen­nifer Crider, and a leg­isla­tive agenda was not the place to ad­dress the war is­sue.

She said the call last year from Rep. John P. Murtha, Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­crat, for troop with­drawal “changed the course of the de­bate [and] sent a sig­nal that Democrats will stand up and hold the ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­count­able.”

Mrs. Pelosi did not at­tend the press con­fer­ence.

Af­ter the in­ter­rup­tion by the Shee­han-led ac­tivists, Mr. Emanuel and other top Democrats re­turned to the mi­cro­phone and, in re­sponse to re­porters’ ques­tions, ad­dressed some of Mrs. Shee­han’s de­mands.

“Well, we’re go­ing to do the one thing that’s been miss­ing [. . . ] and that’s over­sight,” Mr. Emanuel said. “We have had a pol­icy where the Congress — from re­sources to strat­egy — has ab­di­cated its re- spon­si­bil­ity of over­see­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tion’s for­eign pol­icy in that area. And the Amer­i­can peo­ple, both in blood, trea­sure, and pres­tige, is now pay­ing the price for a Congress that ab­di­cated its re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Mr. Emanuel promised hear­ings on the war that would an­swer the types of ques­tions Mrs. Shee­han and the vot­ers are ask­ing.

“That is the most im­por­tant thing to do, be­cause when you have ques­tions asked, you do not get a Congress that just rub­ber-stamps the pol­icy,” he said. “Now you see the con­se­quence of a rub­ber­stamp pol­icy, which is what we have in Iraq.”

Af­ter the press con­fer­ence, Mrs. Shee­han told re­porters that Democrats had aban­doned the party’s grass-roots anti-war sup­port­ers as soon as the elec­tion was over.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed to see that they are talk­ing about giv­ing the pres­i­dent more money for the war,” she said. “I’m dis­ap­pointed to hear that im­peach­ment is off the ta­ble. We are here to let them know that we are set­ting the ta­ble now.”

Most an­a­lysts cred­ited the Iraq war is­sue with fu­el­ing anti-Repub­li­can sen­ti­ment that pro­pelled Democrats to a con­gres­sional ma­jor­ity for the first time in 12 years.

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