A Genuinely Horrible Oil Idea
The other shoe may be about to drop.
When Pres. Bush first called for the US to attack Iraq, liberal protesters everywhere busted out their "No Blood for Oil!" placards. I remember at the time thinking, "God, I really hope this isn't primarily about oil." The intervening years have ensured that, whatever Bush's original intentions, the invasion and occupation hasn't been primarily about oil--Iraq has been too much of a mess for occupying it to be about anything but trying to fight the insurgency.
But now that oil is back. The Iraqi parliament is now considering a bill that essentially started with the US State Department. The bill is being sold in this country and in Iraq as a deal to arrange revenue sharing among Iraqi regions. But the bill's main purpose is to oblige Iraqis to give over at least 70% of the nation's oil to foreign oil companies. (By "foreign," I mostly mean "American.")
This is beyond disgraceful--it's borderline wicked. Iraq's infrastructure is in terrible shape, but the Iraqi oil ministry can still pump oil and is doing so. Surely if we're serious about the country ever recovering from the devastation that we've helped generate, we should do everything we can to ensure that the country has a stable, meaningful revenue stream in the upcoming years. That means a system in which the profits from oil sales stay in Iraq rather than leaving the country.
Passage of this awful oil bill has become one of the famed benchmarks that Democrats and Republicans alike are insisting on. The Democrats, at least, should stop playing around with this. The Iraqi parliament's handing over its country's one real source of immediate revenue wouldn't prove its ability to govern--just the opposite. That's a no-brainer.
Before the invasion, Paul Wolfowitz and the entire Bush administration was insisting that Iraqi oil revenues would basically pay the costs of the war. Obviously, that pipe dream has long since been flushed down the pipes and the pipelines. Economically and otherwise, America is going to be paying for this war for a long time, and it's no use pretending otherwise. Even if you somehow think that the Iraqis "owe us," remember that we as a nation wouldn't get anything out of the proposed oil bill anyway. The oil rights wouldn't go to US taxpayers. They'd go to multinational oil companies, some of which happen to be headquartered in the US. So the only way any American taxpayer will get to see any of that oil is to pay $3.62 per gallon at the pump. And since we'd be doing that anyway, I'd rather that the money go to Iraqi elementary schools than to Exxon's Cayman Islands accounts.