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Archive for the ‘Foreign policy’ Category

Perhaps the most remarkable candidness in the US Senate’s all-night Iraq Debate came from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who examined the idea that has long burned in the hearts of those who engineered the Iraq occupation — the privatization of 70% of Iraq’s oil resources. The crafters of this plan have spent over a decade coming up with reasons to justify this, even though oil production in most countries is done under the auspices of the state or quasi-statal entities. If Americans are really concerned about ending civil strife in Iraq and giving all its citizens a stake in the success of that country, perhaps it is time to abandon pressuring for a Hydrocarbon Law and the application of production-sharing agreements, or PSAs, and try a different approach. (BTW, if you are convinced PSAs are the way to go, it might be worthwhile to review the recent Russian experience of British Petroleum.)

 Current estimates of Iraq’s oil reserves are all over the map, ranging from 112Gbbl to 400Gbbl on the high end. Nevertheless, the big oil companies seem comfortable with figures north of 300 billion barrels. At an oil price of $50 a barrel that’s a treasure of $15 trillion. $30 trillion at $100 a barrel, or roughly a cool $1 million for every Iraqi citizen. Given the value of the assets at stake, it is also clear why Mr. Bush and co-president Cheney scarcely bat an eye at the mention that official Pentagon spending on the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceed $12 billion a month. That’s chump change.

While the conditions in Iraq are quite different than in Norway, there is obviously an alternative path for Iraq that so far has not received much public discussion, i.e. creation of a national stabilization fund to invest and protect national oil revenues managed with sufficiently little corruption so that covenants with Iraq’s future generations are kept. The added benefit is that, like in Norway, the money can be directed toward diversification of the economy and job creation.

The Senate’s Great Iraq Debate was a flop, but Cantwell may have inadvertantly started a discussion that will help both the people of Iraq and the US in the long term.

Update: C-Span  has the clip up now.

Later update: Suddenly it’s become okay to use the O-word right on the senate floor. Larry Craig did it, too.

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Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former security adviser to Jimmy Carter, gives a report card to George W Bush, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. In an interesting article in The New York Review of Books, Jonhathan Freedland writes a review about three books written about the Bush administration. One of these is by Brzezinski, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower.

The conservative Democrat and cold war hawk, gives Bush Sr. a B, while Clinton gets a C. Bush Jr. gets slammed with an F.

Quoting Brzezinski, the article in The New York Review of Books gives a very critical picture of the Bush administration:

It is hard to exaggerate the Bush administration’s fundamental miscalculations on Iraq… Small wonder that after nearly four years of warfare, Iraq has been a disaster, costing thousands of lives, requiring the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, stretching our forces and reserve system to the breaking point, and becoming a magnet for terrorists and hostility towards the Untied States throughout the Muslim world.

He continues:

Because of Bush’s self-righteously unilateral conduct of US foreign policy after 9/11, the evocative symbol of America in the eyes of much of the world ceased to be the Statue of Liberty and instead became the Guantánamo prison camp.

It’s pretty evident that the Bush administration has fallen into a trap that has meant the demise of some autocratic regimes. Whenever the leader of such a government believes that he’s on a crusade to save the country or world from some murky enemy like terrorists, that’s the first sign that the government is in self-destruct mode. Wars that such despots declare turn into obsessions that blind them into believing they are indestructible.

It’s unfortunate that countries like Germany with Adolf Hitler and the former Soviet Union with Joseph Stalin had their tragic rendezvous with autocracy. The US is now suffering from the same problem under Bush, even if the president hasn’t been able to destroy all of the US’ democratic institutions.

There’s still hope to salvage US but the main priority must be to get Bush out of the White House.

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I was shocked to read that all except one of the Republican candidates vying for the White House in 2008 wouldn’t rule out nuking Iran. The only who spoke against such an attack was Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

If one looks at the damage that this administration has caused on US institutions and the country’s reputation abroad, we should be extremely worried if one of these Republican candidates makes it to the White House next year. Their prickly statements show that we can expect worse than George W Bush if one of these men – except possibly for Rep. Paul – wins the 2008 presidential elections.

It’s tragic that such politicians who should know better haven’t learned from the perilous mistakes made in Iraq. Some of them were kids when the US made history and became the first country to use an atom bomb against another nation. The first atom bomb was dropped August 6, 1945 over Hiroshima and three days later over the city of Nagasaki.

The most incredulous matter about these Republican contenders is how freely they talk about upholding Christian values while on the other hand they wouldn’t hesitate to kill tens/hundreds of thousands of people with nuclear weapons.

They appear more like the Christians of the Dark Ages, who did nothing more “Christian” than murder, pillage, imprison and instill mayhem.

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With the world in dire need of a tourniquet to halt the hemorrhaging caused by George W. Bush’s so-called “war on terror” and our insatiable greed that is bringing climate change on us hard and fast, one question we can ask is what can be done?

To simplify things, the world could be seen like the ten players (the G8 + 2) on a basketball court with two referees (the US/Nato and China/Russia) and onlookers (the world).

Certainly the refs can make as many bad calls as they wish. They have the power to do so. However, as they make poor calls the players and the crowd start to get rowdier. In the end the refs lose control of the game and all hell breaks loose.

This is exactly what is happening in the Middle East thanks to Iraq and Israel’s untenable policy in the region.

Might isn’t right. It isn’t a sustainable foreign policy.

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