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Hastert Favors Efforts to Punish Unhelpful Allies

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) agrees with those who think the United States should reward its friends and punish its enemies, so to speak.

Addressing the media Thursday morning, he said Americans should be strike a “balance” in weighing which countries to smile upon and which deserve a frown, adding that the United States should “take care of our friends.”

Ever since key European allies, such as France and Germany, refused to side with the United States over military engagement in Iraq, some Members of Congress have said those fickle friends should pay for their treachery.

Going beyond renaming french fries in the Capitol cafeterias, some want to bar France, Russia, Germany and others from winning contracts to reconstruct Iraq after hostilities cease. (See story.)

For example, Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) authored an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill that would prohibit the procurement of goods or services from any corporation or business organized under the laws of France, Germany, Russia, China or Syria.

While Hastert declined to say whether he supports the amendment outright, he did say: “We shouldn’t look as kindly upon those who didn’t help us,” adding that such an approach is just “common sense.”

The United States should not “carte blanche” give out contracts to its detractors, he said. “We have to protect our own interests.”

By contrast, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the United States “should not get into the game of saying certain countries” cannot participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.

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