Without spin: what to do with Iraqi oil
Years ago, Wonder Wife and this observer tired of the pro-Left slant of CNN’s domestic news service. We cancelled our subscription in favor of the “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel. Now that CNN admits it suppressed what it knew about Saddam’s brutality in exchange for access to Baghdad, our decision seems even more prescient.
But CNN is not the only culprit and the spinning continues. Anti-Administration news outlets such as CBS, ABC, PBS, National Public Radio, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times would have us believe the Iraqi people prefer dictatorship to liberation. They depict the looting of the Iraqi National Museum as Armageddon while conveniently forgetting the way the Clinton’s left the White House and Air Force One.
But the truly important news now centers on providing an environment in Iraq conducive to the establishment of democratic institutions and the establishment of a means by which the oil wealth of Iraq can be used for the benefit of its people and to recoup the costs of their liberation.
The UN-Oil for Food Program was under the direct supervision of UN Secretary Kofi Annan. Obviously, neither Annan nor his sidekick, Chief Weapons Inspector Hans “Clouseau” Blix, are up to their jobs. Blix couldn’t find a fire hazard in a match factory. Under Annan, the UN Oil for Food Program turned out to be what General Tommy Franks calls: Oil for Palaces.
So, here’s what needs to happen: The long-term beneficiaries of Iraqi’s vast oil reserves must be the impoverished Iraqi people. Over the short-term, some of the Iraqi oil revenues must be used to defray the costs of liberating the people of Iraq from Saddam’s brutal dictatorship.
The way to do that is by the establishment of an Iraqi Oil Trust supervised by men and women of impeccable character and devoid of self-interest. The French, Russians and Germans need not apply.
The mission of the Trust would be to set up a totally transparent oil production and distribution system to produce and trade oil at world market prices in a true Oil for Food, Medicine and Reconstruction Program. This observer’s pick to head the Iraqi Oil Trust would be former Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell. Mitchell, a Democrat, proved to be a skilled and honest negotiator in bringing a, thus far, on-going resolution to “the troubles” in Northern Ireland. Moreover, Mitchell’s mother is of Arab descent.”
By design, the Coalition forces destroyed relatively little of Iraq’s essential infrastructure. Witness the amazing speed with which electricity, potable water, sewage and other infrastructure services are being restored. Compared to the devastation of Germany and Japan in World War II, Iraq’s infrastructure is virtually untouched by war. But the problem of decades of looting by Saddam and his henchmen remains.
The creation of a Coalition-supervised Iraqi Oil Trust will send seismic shock waves through the Middle East. Currently, all of the Arab oil-producing nations are ruled by dictatorial regimes. The idea of a neighboring Iraq with democratic institutions and its oil wealth flowing to its people instead of into palaces and weapons is revolutionary
France, Russia and Germany will scream like wounded panthers. Deprived of its under-the-table oil deals with Saddam, France may go broke and some French bankers could go to jail. Look for OPEC, with its newfound respect (fear, if you will) for the US and its allies, to stabilize the price of oil somewhere between $18 and $24 per barrel.
Meanwhile, America’s independent oil companies (names most Americans have never heard of) will continue to produce about 70 percent of the gasoline consumed in this country. When the new Alaskan production comes on line, we will be even less dependent on foreign oil.
While September 11, 2001, will live in infamy, April 9, 2003, the day of Iraq’s liberation, will go down in history as a day that changed Iraq and the world for the better.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – novels about terrorist attacks on Colorado’s water supply and on the Panama Canal, respectively.
©2003. William Hamilton