The oil companies are even playing their hand in a way that could leave them with nothing--they are demanding provisions to the Iraqi constitution and a "hydrocarbon law" that allows foreign ownership of oil assets.
Ironically, to the degree that the Iraqis withhold this, it shows that they have a legitimate democracy. The Bush administration put off elections right after the invasion to have a clear path to implement this theft of their natural resources since they knew no real democratic government would sell out their own people like that. GOP strategist and one of the authors of the privatization plan, Grover Norquist, said, "The right to trade, property rights, these things are not to be determined by some democratic election."
Although he has never fired a shot or dropped a bomb on an Iraqi, Norquist is more of a war criminal than Lyndie England and all those hillbillies who followed the White House's orders at Abu Ghraib.
Gen. Jay Garner, appointed by Bush to run the occupation and who successfully ran the occupation of the Kurdish region for over a decade, said postponing elections and implementing these economic changes would incite violence. He was right. And fired.
Until the American public moves this from the back of their minds to the front of our debate on Iraq, we won't get out of Iraq because we won't know why Bush is holding onto it like a squirrel with his last nut.
It's still about oil in Iraq
A centerpiece of the Iraq Study Group's report is its advocacy for securing foreign companies' long-term access to Iraqi oil fields.
By Antonia Juhasz
ANTONIA JUHASZ is a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."
December 8, 2006
WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence. Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.
For any degree of oil privatization to take place, and for it to apply to all the country's oil fields, Iraq has to amend its constitution and pass a new national oil law. The constitution is ambiguous as to whether control over future revenues from as-yet-undeveloped oil fields should be shared among its provinces or held and distributed by the central government.
This is a crucial issue, with trillions of dollars at stake, because only 17 of Iraq's 80 known oil fields have been developed. Recommendation No. 26 of the Iraq Study Group calls for a review of the constitution to be "pursued on an urgent basis." Recommendation No. 28 calls for putting control of Iraq's oil revenues in the hands of the central government. Recommendation No. 63 also calls on the U.S. government to "provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government to prepare a draft oil law."
This last step is already underway. The Bush administration hired the consultancy firm BearingPoint more than a year ago to advise the Iraqi Oil Ministry on drafting and passing a new national oil law.
Plans for this new law were first made public at a news conference in late 2004 in Washington. Flanked by State Department officials, Iraqi Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (who is now vice president) explained how this law would open Iraq's oil industry to private foreign investment. This, in turn, would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies." The law would implement production-sharing agreements.
Much to the deep frustration of the U.S. government and American oil companies, that law has still not been passed.
In July, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced in Baghdad that oil executives told him that their companies would not enter Iraq without passage of the new oil law. Petroleum Economist magazine later reported that U.S. oil companies considered passage of the new oil law more important than increased security when deciding whether to go into business in Iraq.
FULL TEXT: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-juhasz8dec08,0,4717508.story
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