Let's See What Congress Bought

by dday

So a deal has been reached on no-strings-attached war funding well into the next President's first year, and all the Democrats get out of it is a GI Bill that isn't paid for (they had to drop the tax on millionaires), some appropriations for flooding in the Midwest and Gulf Coast and modified unemployment insurance for an additional 13 weeks. That's not nothing, but given that it's a signing of a death warrant for tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, it's perverse to even talk in terms of what you "get" out of the deal.

But it's worth looking at the country we've bought for another year or so, just to kick the tires and see where it's going. Turns out that the "political progress" that is continually touted by war defenders is more like a press release than actual progress that gets implemented:

When the Iraqi parliament passed a law in January aimed at rehiring former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, U.S. President George W. Bush praised it as a step towards national reconciliation [...]

But five months later, implementation of the law is bogged down by infighting between politicians, and the committee once tasked with hunting out Baathists in government has found itself in the odd position of overseeing the process of rehiring them or offering them state pensions.

The government has still not appointed a seven-member panel to replace the deBaathification Committee, whose enthusiastic purge of Baathists from government posts prompted minority Sunni Arabs to accuse them of conducting a witch-hunt [...]

The committee has received 14,000 applications from former Baathists asking for either reinstatement or for pensions, he said.

But Iraq's presidency council -- which comprises Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, and his two deputies -- and a separate Accountability and Justice Committee in parliament have ordered [the committee's head] and his colleagues to freeze their work.

This is merely an example of a persistent pattern where the ruling government makes a show at reconciliation and then uses their power as a tool of repression. The root causes that presage all the sectarian violence we have seen remain and will certainly be acted upon at some juncture.

In other news, we are reminded that this was not a war for oil but a war for oil services contracts.

Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.

Gee, I wonder how the US oil companies got the upper hand and those no-bid contracts? It couldn't be the consequence of a decision made at the initial moments of the invasion that the "victor" in Iraq would get the spoils, could it?

As Secretary of State Colin Powell told a congressional panel on Wednesday, "We didn't take on this huge burden with our coalition partners not to be able to have a significant, dominating control over how it unfolds."

And there are similar quotes from that time, freezing out Germany and France from the plunder. Not that any country should profit from the natural resources of Iraq except for Iraq.

So, for the low low price of $162 billion dollars, we have secured a ready-to-explode colony in the Middle East, full of black gold that we will pump out of their sand and mainline directly into the bank accounts of Big Oil.