The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

US shame in the making, part 2

with 14 comments

Josh wrote to question the thesis of US shame in the making: Vote on Iraq oil law nears.  I’ll use this post to accumulate evidence. It may change from day to day.

This has been a hidden story. Apparently language de-nationalizing the Iraqi oil industry is not found in the US benchmark itself, but in the Iraqi draft bill. And it looks like that draft may be the only oil bill under consideration there (you’ll read of it as “the Iraqi hydrocarbon law,” below). Hence, forcing an oil benchmark amounts to a US oil industry bonanza at the expense of the Iraqi people. Follow the links for details:

[Tuesday, June 12: Finally the story is getting into the mainstream media. See How Will Iraq Share the Oil? for a helpful discussion from the Christian Science Monitor:

“While we can’t confirm it, there are enough reports out there that appear to indicate that undue, unfair preference and the influence of our oil companies are part of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law, and if that is true, that is not correct,” says Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania, a former admiral and defense adviser to the Clinton administration.]

Next, Ann Wright, retired Army colonel and former diplomat, writes at Truthout, in a post called What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq’s Oil for US Companies:

If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms – given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.)

And Congressman Kucinich, quoted from a press release.

“There has been a broad deception about the content of the hydrocarbon law, a deception which has taken in members of Congress and the media. Misdescribed tactically as a revenue sharing plan, it is in fact a radical plan to privatize Iraq’s oil.

The law before the Iraq Parliament contains 3 vague lines about revenue sharing and 33 solid pages of a complex legal restructuring, facilitating the privatization of Iraq’s oil resources. The sharing will not be 1/3 of 100%. The sharing is more likely to be 1/3 of 20% at most, after private oil interests take their cut. The stage is being set for theft on a historic scale. […]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

June 11, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics, Terrorism

14 Responses

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  1. Thanks, naj, all important points. One need only compare the history of the USA’s many invasions with that of Iran to see who the more likely threat to the region is!

    The deepest problem faced by the Middle East is the West’s hunger for domination of it.

    I grieve over my nation’s sins.


    July 4, 2007 at 12:23 pm

  2. Dear Monte,
    This is irrelevant to the post, but I want you to consider one thing when you feel your country needs to cautious about Iran:

    1) as you mentioned, Iranians KNOW they are running out of fossil fuel, and thus they are planning ahead. Besides nuclear technology, they are also investing in hydro-energy.

    2) Iran has no history of striking against any country in over 200 years. But, Iran is surrounded by enemies: Arabs, Russians, Americans, Pakistanis. Iran has often (in fact always) been betrayed by all those who have pledged cooperation in case of danger. If Iran were to seek nuclear bomb, it would be all justified, as a deterrent. Iran needs to protect itself!

    3) What is the source of fear of Iran is not Iran’s atomic strike against Israel, but Iran’s economic boom into a regional power. If Iran becomes independent of oil revenues, and if it can militarily protect itself, it cannot be pressured to the West’s will. They will have to sit down and negotiate in a civilized manner and on equal grounds, and that goes for both sides.


    July 2, 2007 at 8:40 pm

  3. Josh: Thanks again for your insights. I have benefited from them.
    If I were writing the piece now, I would write it as an issue that warrants further investigation, rather than something I can conclusively say. The more I reflect on your words and those of others, the more I think cool-headed, unquestionably true statements are, in the long run, in the best interest of all involved.
    At the same time, I would encourage you to ponder the context which makes such a piece important: our nation consented to go to war because the Congress, the media, and the American people questioned Mr. Bush too little, mostly shrugging off responsibility to make sure his assumptions were correct. Only a handful of Members of Congress, for instance, even read the intelligence made available to them before voting. The media reported what Congress and the President were saying, but did little careful investigation.
    Further, the historical context of American and British involvement in Iran and Iraq is flush with incidents of greedy manipulation. An altruistic oil deal would be a welcome anomaly; history suggests, however, that we should have our eyes open for a behind-the-scenes windfall for American interests.
    So, yes, it seems to me a great deal of care is needed to be sure what is said is said truthfully. Yet I still see the role of many American writers as that of diligent skeptic, challenging the information is spun our way, especially in the context of history and from people of great power, who are so easily self-deceived.


    July 2, 2007 at 6:32 pm

  4. Sorry for the late reply. While the Christian Science Monitor piece was not an opinion piece they cited several sources and gave their position and why they would be reliable. Rep. Sestak also said “”While we can’t confirm it” which was left out of your quote. In addition there are no benchmarks in either bill. I also have to note that there have been times before when a group has created misinformation in the media to adversely effect the Presidents administration such as Dan Rather who was considered mainstream. I know you can argue just the opposite but I wanted to point it out. Now, you can argue that there is an agreement between the democrats and the President which I cannot disprove and a threat has been made to the Iraqi parliment that US troops would be withdrawn if the bill was not passed. This is completely possible but where are the leaks to other media outlets? As many times as there have been leaks in the last several years I would think someone in on the secret would have leaked the info.


    June 27, 2007 at 9:46 pm

  5. Regarding Iran, Josh, we need a middle ground. You are right that caution is merited. But we are stuck in the middle of a war that we entered with inadequate intelligence and inferior planning. Many of the same players now suggest Iran to be the next target. They have to be held accountable, this time, for the quality of their facts, and not be allowed to paint Iran as darker than it really is in order to ramp up public consent for warfare.
    I certainly do not trust Ahmedinejad. But, regrettably, I do not trust Mr. Bush, either.


    June 19, 2007 at 12:13 pm

  6. Josh, it is no more an opinion piece than that of the Christian Science Monitor was. It is a report of an increasing number of people in and out of Congress who, looking at the benchmark and the Iraq bill, believe it does represent an under-the-table takeaway from the Iraqi people that will especially benefit the American oil industry. That is a story. As Rep. Sestak said, “there are enough reports out there that appear to indicate that undue, unfair preference and the influence of our oil companies are part of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law.”

    Much of the turmoil in the Middle East is a result of a hundred years of predatory practices by western governments and oil companies. It has usually been hushed up until the deals were done. It was usually written in innocuous language so that westerners could throw up their hands and say, “Hey, can we help it if it worked out well for us?”

    It strikes me that the only way for peace to come to the Middle East is to be sure that the implications of such laws are reported in advance. So when Congress members suggest that the usual suspects may have their hands in the till again, there is cause for alarm and a great deal of attention.

    I am no journalist; I am sure it could be better done. But I won’t stand by quietly when there’s a risk that my country – the democracy of whose actions all of us bear some culpability – may be defrauding poor nations yet again.


    June 19, 2007 at 11:54 am

  7. Jason,

    As to your point and Monte’s comment. While you very well could be correct I would also like to look back to history and a certain other person that “blustered” about wiping out the Jews. There was much negotiating with him and even signed peace treaties which simply bought more time for bigger and better plans. I pray that American Soldiers will be able to be removed from harms way as soon as possible and that you are correct, but what if your not?


    June 18, 2007 at 8:49 pm

  8. Monte,

    I was a little disappointed in your response. You have posted several statements leading people to believe a bill in the U.S. Congress and then the Iraqi Parliament was set to extort money from the Iraqi people. See below for an example or two.

    “Turns out Iraqis have largely not been told what is in the bill. As word leaks out, Iraqi oil workers have begun to strike.
    Turns out the Democrats – in utter betrayal of the attitudes on which they campaigned – have included passage of the oil bill as one of the Bush benchmarks that Iraq must meet for US funding to continue. ”

    “I am not surprised that such language would be in the bill, and don’t doubt your reading of it. But it isn’t a legal world out there, and I suspect there is far more conniving behind the scenes than the law’s technical writing will ever reveal.”

    I cannot prove your previous statement false. However, The questions I raised did not call into question your beliefs.
    If you intended for this to be an opinion article and that it was your belief that some sort of underhanded or unethical dealings are to take place then it should have been stated up front.

    I hope you take this as constructive criticism, as it was intended and I am sorry if you do not.



    June 18, 2007 at 8:42 pm

  9. Jason, interesting point. Some point out that Iran, if oil supplies deplete as predicted, may be out of oil in 25 years. Despite Iran’s blustery governmental temper, it could well be that Iran is one of the few thinking ahead, realizing that without nuclear power it runs the risk of complete economic breakdown.


    June 16, 2007 at 8:55 pm

  10. I am not surprised that such language would be in the bill, and don’t doubt your reading of it. But it isn’t a legal world out there, and I suspect there is far more conniving behind the scenes than the law’s technical writing will ever reveal.
    Again and again, American soldiers have been sent to war “to defend freedom,” only to discover that the right of American corporations to make money without hindrance was the real issue. From the Philippines to Iran to Guatemala, the US has taken governments down for corporate gain.
    I think the view I have put forward is more consistent with historic (but largely unknown in the US) American foreign policy of the last 100 years. I really doubt that the leopard has changed its spots.
    You might enjoy a historic voice – that of the most decorated Marine in US history, at Major General Smedley Butler on war: Words for our times.


    June 16, 2007 at 8:50 pm

  11. My appologies for taking so long to respond but I wanted to read the Iraqi Oil Bill. I read the draft bill as it stands on

    I am not an expert in law but it appears to me that there will be a governing body called the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) Which appears to me to be a quasi- governmental company that is permitted by law to act as an agent of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. This company can enter into contracts with either foreign or domestic companies for the production and extraction of crude.

    You are welcome to believe what you want about this but as far as I can see there are no requirements, quotas, or restrictions on who they do business with.

    I also located this article which said the following: “With Iraqi production targeted to reach 3 million b/d by the end of this year, Al-Shahristani said most of any increase in exports would go to Asia.”

    This was printed on the University of Alberta (Canada) website.

    I did not read anything that alots oil fields to any one as stated in the above article.

    Therefore, I can’t agree with your statement, “Hence, forcing an oil benchmark amounts to a US oil industry bonanza at the expense of the Iraqi people.”

    Let me know what you think. I would encourage you to read the Iraqi Oil Bill.


    June 15, 2007 at 9:15 pm

  12. Don’t want to mention this – but such things are business as usual for the oil companies. Lets hope the public can do something more about this.

    Have you seen the wider debate over at the ?

    Ultimately a finite resource is running out and the the zero sum games continue.


    June 13, 2007 at 10:21 pm

  13. Thanks, ClapSo – you encourage me!


    June 12, 2007 at 9:53 am

  14. You tell em Monte! Add that the Iraqi oil workers union is STRIKING over this rip off, and that US troops are being sent to break the strike. Then it’s easy to see who the US government has been getting our young people in uniform killed to “defend.” Not us, but the oil industry exxon, bp and that greedy bunch! The dems and repubs are in cahoots!

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer


    June 11, 2007 at 6:50 pm

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