Opinion

Whats behind those benchmarks for Iraq?

Bob Graef -
Bob Graef
— image credit:

My dictionary says, shame, a painful feeling of having done something wrong or improper. Disgraced. Down the page is a related definition, shameless. Without shame. Not modest, brazen.
The reason I went to the book was that I was feeling very uncomfortable and I wanted to put the right label on my discomfort. I am truly ashamed, which is defined as disturbed or uncomfortable because one has done something wrong, improper or foolish. It goes on to say, humiliated and mortified which leave a feeling of having disgraced oneself by doing something wrong or improper.
Not fair, I shout. It wasnt me. But so long as I am a citizen of the United States of America, I get tarred with the same brush that, if justice were done, would paint big oils power-brokers for what they continue to do to the red, white and blue. As a traveler, Im keenly aware of two ambassadorial facts. First, by my conduct I leave an impression of America and Americans wherever I go. Second, I find myself having to dodge occasional hostility from foreign nationals who have reason to condemn our governments policies and actions.
After what American oil interests are pulling in Iraq, Im hesitant to show my face overseas. Crass, greedy, oafish; there are no adjectives strong enough to describe our totally improper snatch at control over Iraqs oil reserves. In angling for the only resource of a wounded Iraq, all of the White Houses high-sounding justifications for war become so transparent as not to exist. Now were being told that the proposed Iraqi oil law is simply a way to equalize revenues to the various segments of Iraqi society.
Thats what were being told. We were also told that we needed to remove a tyrant, avenge 9/11, save the world from WMDs, bring freedom and democracy to Iraq, deny al Qaeda a base, settle inter-tribal warfare and establish a new Iraq as a model and beacon for peace-loving peoples everywhere. Noble-sounding ambitions that serve as a smokescreen for improper ambitions.
While Iraq remains in turmoil, big oils ambitions surfaced as one of the Bush administrations eighteen benchmarks for progress in Iraq. It required that Iraqs congress pass a law that would allow privatization of 70 percent of its oil reserves, allowing foreign participation. It was no mystery who the foreigners would be, not when our president was once CEO of Harken and Arbusto Oil, our VP the ex-top gun at Exxon-Mobil and our Secretary of State a one-time vice-president of Chevron.
Since General Petraeus report to Congress, pundits have been arguing over how many of the eighteen benchmarks President Bush set for Iraqs new government have been met and what it means if they arent. Iraqi legislators are upset with behind-the-scenes arm-twisting to influence the third benchmark which deals with Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq, etc. Iraqis are upset at bribes and threats that amount to a scheme to plunder a huge part of Iraqs only natural resource.
The odd thing about all this is that any agreement drawn today would likely be lost in the swirls and eddies of Iraqi power. Appoint an oil chief one day and the next, he and his office are blown up. The only lasting effect of this oil-grab would be one more in a series of international black-eyes for the heaviest-handed manipulator, America.
The drafting of the new oil law was led by Tariq Shafiq, an Iraqi oil consultant surrounded by and paid by U.S. advisors. After witnessing how it was being bent to accommodate foreign corporate interests, he turned against the law, claiming that backroom compromises were leading to mismanagement of the countrys oil sector, opening it too much to foreign private corporations.
Much of the law as drafted by Shafiq sounded good until it met the nitty-gritty of reality. Shafiqs Iraq has been stripped of capacity to fix anything on a large scale. It needs foreign involvement. As things stand, it is totally incapable of developing its oil fields or repairing refineries and pipelines. Foreign assistance will be needed, but at what cost? Who will decide which oil interests will be selected to participate? Or was that decided before the outset.
The Kurds are right now signing contracts allowing multinational oil companies 20-25 percent profit margins. Thats not too much, say corporate defenders, because petroleum exploration and extraction has always been a gamble for investors. That might hold true for parts of Texas, but were talking about land that sits atop a known sea of high-grade crude. Money in the bank.
So weve planted a war in Iraq that has pretty well destroyed electric power production, oil, refineries and pipelines, education, potable water distribution, employment and a number of bridges. The justification is, We fight terrorists there so we wont have to fight them at home. Along the way, 650,000 Iraqis died. Some guilty of terrorism, most of them innocent.
It is against this background that oil interests are making their power-play. They cant feel shame because they dont feel. Shame is left to the part of America that still thinks and feels.

Comments may be addressed to: rgraef@verizon.net.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 19 edition online now. Browse the archives.