Opinion – Doug Thompson

Deja Vu on the other foot

Seeing President Bush run while using the liberal Democratic playbook is bizarre.

Remember 1994, the heady days of the Republican revolution? Back when Republican wanted to cut government?
The GOP majority in Congress would try to cut a bloated, unsuccessful government program. Liberal Democrats would insist the program was working. Just give it more time, and money.
Growling and fussing, the Republican would pass a budget for the program in question, but impose benchmarks. That budget would include an increase.
The benchmark deadlines would come and go. The expensive program would keep going. The program’s budget would go back to normal. The Democrats would call that a cut.
Bush does the same thing in Iraq. He just spend lives too – and more money.
Oh, and here’s a bulletin. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan put this in his new book: “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil.”
Wow. You don’t say?
Since then, Greenspan has said in interviews that securing a stable supply of oil in the region by eliminating Saddam Hussein as a threat is what he meant.
That would make sense if Hussein hadn’t been dealt with as a threat in the first Iraq war.
Let’s judge the success of the administration’s strategy by the oil yardstick.
Iraq sits on some of the third largest proven oil reserves in the world and some of the most easily accessible.
Iraq isn’t even self-sufficient in fuel. It hasn’t been for years. It won’t be without major assistance, according to the figures released last month from the International Monetary Fund. The county has to export crude to buy refined fuel from elsewhere. Outright attacks, intimidation, kidnappings, power outages and now something new – tearing apart smaller refineries for the antiquated parts to keep the bigger ones running – have all hurt Iraqi refining, according to oil industry accounts.
Iraq used to produce as much as 3.8 million barrels of oil a day. The figure was 3 million barrels just before the U.S. invasion. Current production is less than 2 million despite government claims of 2.5 million barrels, according to oil industry estimates.
Associated Press reported Sept. 13 that talks on an oil-revenue sharing agreement between the factions in Iraq – something absolutely vital to getting contracts signed, oil flowing and finance of a viable central government – are deadlocked. That’s no surprise. The talks have been deadlocked since they started after the invasion.
According to the website “Energy Publisher” at http://www.energypublisher.com/article.asp?id=11033, even the reduced level of production in Iraq accounts for 60 percent of that nation’s gross domestic product and 89 percent of the government’s revenues.
“According to reports by various U.S. government agencies, multilateral institutions and other international organizations, long-term Iraq reconstruction costs could reach $100 billion or higher, of which it is estimated that more than a third will go to the oil, gas and electricity sectors,” the website says. “In addition, the World Bank estimates that at least $1 billion in additional revenues needs to be committed annually to the oil industry just to sustain current production.”
A billion a year “just to sustain current production;” Guess where that $1 billion will come from.
Perhaps we should put a tax on gasoline to pay for all this.
At present, most Iraq oil production comes from three fields: Two in the south and one in the north. The two in the south are producing at close to pre-war levels. The one in the north is running at less than a third of that “due to reservoir damage from gas and water injection as well as shut-in export routes,” the website says. In English, that means production was forced through the wells that stayed open, even though this meant less oil in the long term. Also, much of the oil couldn’t be safely moved out for export because the insurgency cut off pipelines and such.
Let’s cut to the chase here. There is no viable government in Iraq to hand the country back to without oil. As I’ve said many times, the only benchmark that matters is Iraqi oil production – and no, I don’t own an SUV. Iraq simply has no other feet of its own to stand on, and we’ve botched that too.

Categories: Legacy Archive