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Monday, January 13, 2003
Oil and Gas International has an interesting editorial up today by Managing Editor Dev George entitled "Pocketing the spoils of war." George argues that the likelihood of attacks on "American petroleum industry personnel and those who could be mistaken for Americans" would increase if the United States invades and takes over Iraq and then uses Iraqi oil to pay for the military occupation.
On Friday I noted a news story that suggested that the Bush Administration did intend to pay for the invasion and occupation of Iraq with money generated by Iraqi oil. I didn't comment on the story but the more I think about it, the more bothersome the proposal becomes. Treating Iraqi oil as the possession of U.S. government is denying Iraq the most obvious and immediate source of income the country has. Now logically Iraq would be better off if it diversified its economy but if President George W. Bush was being honest on January 3 when he said the U.S. military in Iraq “will be fighting not to conquer anybody, but to liberate people,” then it is up to the people of Iraq if they want to try to diversify their economy or not. Furthermore diversification would be a lot easier if you already have one industry that is working well.
Taking this oil as the "spoils of war" is effectively denying quite a bit of self-determination to Iraqis. Now you could say that they already lack that under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein but this discussion is assuming that his rule will soon be over. It doesn't say anything positive about the U.S. if the Uncle Sam still tries to control Iraq after "liberating" the country,