On the surface, that seems like a democratic thing to do -- make sure everyone in the country shares oil revenues. Right? How is that different from, say, Alaska?
But the bill in question does far more than mandate "equitable" sharing. (And the claim that it is "broadly accepted" is arguable.) As Time reported last month, "[t]he law is a dramatic break from the past" ... and not just in revenue-sharing. More importantly, the law would open up the oil fields to foreign corporations -- oil fields which were nationalized in 1972.
Who said this invasion wasn't about oil?
Law Authorship: American
In January, the London Guardian reported that the Iraqi law was drafted in part by an American firm at the direction of the Bush Administration. In addition, the White House and oil companies saw a draft of the bill in July 2006 -- as did the International Monetary Fund -- while the Iraq Parliament remained in the dark.
You got it. We wrote it. Now we're demanding that they pass it, in the name of "democracy" of course.
But the Senate may put the brakes on this train, if its backbone holds:
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), a Democratic presidential candidate, has been lobbying to have language included in the emergency supplemental war spending bill that will prevent "United States control over any oil resource of Iraq." The Senate Appropriations Committee approved that language in its markup Monday...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), though, didn't see the [House] bill as pressuring Iraq to privatize.
Of course, the Iraqi bill in question does not give the US any say-so over Iraqi oil. It does, however, give foreign corporations, the BPs, Chevrons, ExxonMobils, and Shells, the say-so. And Pelosi falls back on the White House spin, which is a "we just want the distribution of revenues to be democratic" faux moral high road.
Iraqi Ministers, People Out Of The Loop
Please take a look at the following passage and see if you think Pelosi's characterization is accurate:
Under the new law, agreed [to in February] by Iraq's cabinet, foreign oil companies will be allowed to cut long-term exploration and development deals with the government for 20 years, renewable for a further five years... Regional governments — only Kurdistan has one right now — can sign their own contracts under the law, a dizzying change from decades when Saddam dictated the terms and stifled oil production in Kurdistan...
There has been no public hearing on the draft, whose details have largely been kept secret. Iraqi lawmakers fumed last July when U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman discussed the draft during a trip to the region, "when hardly a single parliamentarian had seen it," says Kamil Mahdi, an Iraqi who is senior lecturer in Middle East economics at the University of Exeter in Britain, and who spent Tuesday discussing the law by phone with several parliamentarians. He said several believe that the government should wait until the war ends before locking Iraq into long-term deals with foreigners, he says. "This draft is totally out of synch with any notion of the interests of Iraq," he says.
Antonio Juhasz suggests in the New York Times (no subscription required) that support for such a take-over of Iraq oil is not a new thing for the White House:
In March 2001, the National Energy Policy Development Group (better known as Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force), which included executives of America’s largest energy companies, recommended that the United States government support initiatives by Middle Eastern countries "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment."
The production sharing agreements (PSAs) that the US wants Iraq to adopt are long-term oil contracts that are currently "used for only approximately 12 percent of the world’s oil," according to Juhasz. And none of those are in the Middle East. Neighboring countries Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia eschew such contracts, retaining full governmental control over oil fields.
Why would a Democratic Congress include any language in a bill funding the invasion that even remotely suggests that the US has a right to pressure Iraq to open oil fields to global oil mega-corps?
Why would a Democratic Congress include any language in a bill funding the invasion that tries to impose upon Iraq a capitalistic doctrine ... when this "war" was supposedly one of liberation, not conquest?
We Have No Right.
Unless, of course, we fess up to being invaders bent on conquest. Then it's the spoils of war, mankind's standard operating procedure.