Jewish World Review August 26, 2002 / 18 Elul, 5762
The litany of wasteful spending has been documented time and time again, but there is one situation that is worth re-stating. Much of America's foreign spending is in the form of bribes to corrupt dictators -- bribes the president and Congress are well aware of.
Perhaps the biggest thief in the world today is Yasser Arafat. The PLO chief, according to the CIA and British intelligence, has been stealing aid money for decades. This is no secret even in the Arab world, which supplies Arafat with most of his cash.
In June, a daily newspaper in Kuwait, the Al-Watan, published some documents it received from a Cairo bank showing that Arafat had deposited $5 million into his personal account. The newspaper reported the funds came from Arab aid that had been allocated for the Palestinian people, who are perhaps the most impoverished group in the Middle East.
Arafat, of course, denies any chicanery. So I guess he must have landed a big book deal or something. Maybe we can look forward to "Who Moved My Headquarters?" by Yasser Arafat. Or maybe, Yasser hooked up with Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe and got wealthy on the now bankrupt Global Crossing stock. Then again, Yasser might have been in on the conference call with Martha Stewart when she got out of Imclone. Maybe Yasser had that stock, too.
There are all kinds of possibilities here, so we shouldn't be so quick to judge Mr. Arafat. After all, maybe the Palestinian Authority issues options when the suicide bombings are going really well. There are all kinds of explanations -- and that's fortunate because Arafat's wife has a major mortgage payment each month for her lavish home in Paris.
I think Yasser learned his pilfering tricks from Boris Yeltsin. During the Clinton years, ol' Boris lived mighty large because the United States sent Russia more than $7 billion from taxpayers. Once the money hit Moscow, it disappeared so fast that Russia's chief financial auditor, Veniamin Sokolov, said this in 1998: "There must be a stop to the huge foreign loans which are like a fix to a dope addict."
Sokolov flat-out accused Yeltsin and his pals of stealing the money saying, "All the money from the IMF and World Bank have never reached the real economic life of the country."
Under Putin, a half-hearted investigation was launched, but nothing ever came of it. There is no truth to the rumor that Janet Reno was hired as a consultant to that investigation.
And then there was Bill Clinton's Haitian holiday. Under his administration, the USA sent about $3 billion to Port-au-Prince, along with 20,000 military people. The result was interesting. According to the Palm Beach Post, yearly per capita income in Haiti dropped from $260 in 1994 to $225 in 1999, Clinton's last year in office. As that great sage Hyman Roth said to Michael Corleone in "The Godfather II": "The money never reached the island, Michael."
So where did it go? Did Hillary have some kind of cattle futures deal in Haiti? Was McAuliffe playing golf with some Ton Ton Macoute over there? The head of the General Accounting Office, David M. Walker, told me the government cannot account for much of the $3 billion allotted for Haiti.
So the next time you read in the New York Times that the government desperately needs more money and must raise taxes on "the rich," think about Yasser, Boris and Aristide of Haiti. Those guys love all that taxation. They are extremely grateful that you and I work so hard to earn money that the U.S. government sends to them.
After all, why should the people who earn money get to keep it when there are corrupt politicians to be bribed? Priorities are priorities. And if you see Yasser Arafat at the Automatic Teller Machine -- please say hello to him for me.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
08/19/02: Long live the King