Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Stay The Course Harder

Hollow-cheeked and somber, Mr. Bush has just ordered an increase in the troop level in Iraq.

He will use the extra troops to sequester the various Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods that are fighting each other. Our soldiers will be a cushion between the warring factions. It is possible that, unable to fight each other, they will turn their guns on us, but we will deal with that problem when the time comes.

The war broadens.

Bush has sent troops to Sudan to support the Ethiopians. The in turn are supporting the tottering Sudanese government in its fight against Islamist populist radicals.

In Kurdish Iraq, he has just captured an Iranian consulate and their rolodexes. Some think he may discover cause therein to directly attack Iran and perhaps Syria. Pre-emptively because we're fighting terrorists.

Most likely, Bush will torture the arrested Iranians into admissions, then order a blockade of Iranian oil shipments out of the Persian gulf. This will be in order to force the Iran government to the bargaining table to get them to stop their non-governmental organizations from supporting the Iraq insurgency. Iran, with their financial lifeline blocked by this extreme act of bullying, is sure to strike out against us. It's practically a slam-dunk. We can only defend ourselves.

Iran may respond by blocking everybody else's oil shipments out of the gulf.

Needless to say, if we get into fighting on two more fronts, we will need lots of soldiers. Lots and lots. And lots more equipment. The vet rehab facilities are going to need to be enlarged many-fold. To recruit so many soldiers, we may need to offer foreign volunteers an American citizenship.

Shock and awe becomes shock and trauma. If you haven't been wounded yet, you get sent back to the front until you are. Then you retire to a nice rehab facility, an American citizen.

And those caissons keep rollin' along, to the benefit of war industries everywhere.

The Iraq government is a day or two away from signing agreements with western oil producers to develop and exploit their oil fields. These agreements are very generous to the oil producers, but then, Iraq is in a time of need and will sign anything proffered by the occupying powers.

They need to pass their oil law first, though. This is the law that governs what they will do with the profit. It is much more generous to the oil companies than these laws usually are. (Tip of the hat to Juan Cole.) But some of the profit is supposed to go directly to individual citizens, as in Norway and Alaska. This law will end 30 years of nationalized oil production in Iraq. The oil fields are owned by the government, but now they will be leased to operators and developers, just like the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

We're getting nervous because they're so slow. Perhaps they are looking at it carefully?

As teetery as the Iraq government is, our continuing presence will undoubtedly be needed to enforce these very generous contracts. This positions the US military as the enforcement arm of the western petroleum industry.

If anything can give the artfully conflicted people of Iraq a common ground, it will be a royalty check in the mail for their investment in their government, as has been promised in this law. Although poor as we have made these people, they may topple a government or two to get a better deal, this establishment of trickle-up economics may be the key to stability.

Mr. Bush, proving once again that acquiring cheap oil rights trumps chasing terrorists, is actually pulling soldiers out of the terror war in Afghanistan to increase the oil war troop count in Iraq:

"Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.

"We anticipate significant events there next spring," said Tata."

Meanwhile, Republicans are defecting from their support of the war. The decisions surrounding Mr. Bush's new surge in manpower give them a chance to say "Enough is enough". It is possible that before long the exit faction will have a veto-proof majority in Congress.

Some say that the War Powers Act which authorized Bush to fight terrorists does not cover a separate war against Iran. That war will have to be declared separately, once he has bullied them into attacking us. If we think we can afford it.

The price of Texas oil can only go higher.


Blogger Dan McIntyre said...

The oil dividend for the Iraqi citizens isn't very much. $2.22 went to the citizens of Alaska for each of the 300 million barrel of oil produced at Prudhoe Bay in 2006. Each of the 602,350 citizen got $1106.96. Iraq presently pumps about twice as much oil - but has 27 million people. If paid at the same rate, each of them would get about $60 per year.

Not a very big dividend.

11:15 PM, January 16, 2007  

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