Follow the (Oil) Money

Paul Krugman:

To understand what’s really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed.

This column has a must-read explanation of what’s going on with oil revenues in Iraq and why it means the Iraqi government ain’t worth a bucket of warm spit. Here’s just a small part:

… Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.

Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn’t all that surprising, given this administration’s history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the “axis of evil.”

No, what’s interesting about this deal is the fact that Mr. Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad’s disapproval, he’s essentially betting that the Iraqi government — which hasn’t met a single one of the major benchmarks Mr. Bush laid out in January — won’t get its act together. Indeed, he’s effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.

The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. And I suspect that most people in the Bush administration — maybe even Mr. Bush himself — know this, too.


All in all, Mr. Bush’s actions have not been those of a leader seriously trying to win a war. They have, however, been what you’d expect from a man whose plan is to keep up appearances for the next 16 months, never mind the cost in lives and money, then shift the blame for failure onto his successor.

Again, you must read the whole column.

Other voices:

Fred Kaplan:

President Bush’s TV address tonight was the worst speech he’s ever given on the war in Iraq, and that’s saying a lot. Every premise, every proposal, nearly every substantive point was sheer fiction. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional.

New York Times:

Mr. Bush was clear last night — as he was when he addressed the nation in January, September of last year, the December before that and in April 2004 — that his only real plan is to confuse enough Americans and cow enough members of Congress to let him muddle along and saddle his successor with this war that should never have been started.

Marie Cocco:

For the implacable Bush administration and for the impatient Congress, a single force drives all discussion about Iraq. It has not much to do with Iraqis. Their concerns are the future of the U.S. military, of U.S. prestige, of U.S. access to oil, of broader U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East. Add to the mix the political imperatives that inspire all of them — Bush’s intent to hand over the messy endgame to the next president; lawmakers’ determination to find a path to re-election that guides them safely through this quagmire — and you have a myopia that is bereft of morality.

Seattle Times:

More and more, the president sounds like he has decided to play out the clock. After American troop levels surged to 160,000 over the past nine months, the number will be reduced to 130,000 by next summer. Petraeus was already committed to bringing several brigades home to meet a promise to limit tours of duty to 15 months.

Weary and wary Americans listening to their president are parsing out the rhetoric and vocabulary of presidential reports. Notice how the word victory is replaced by success, which is not defined.

See also Tim Grieve’s fact check and Naomi Klein on disaster capitalism.

10 thoughts on “Follow the (Oil) Money

  1. Who knew that King George IV was really a part of an ancient Muslim cult?
    How do I know? Because he’s trying to spin like a Whirling Dervish!

  2. One can only hope that the speech was so delusional that it is finally allowable for the media to acknowledge that the Emperor is NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES!

    Funny, isn’t it, watching the mainstream media write the kind of ‘crazy talk’ that we’ve been reading on blogs for years now. What do you know, he is planning on handing the war off to the next President! Imagine, he is just trying to confuse and cow the people. Look at that, he changes his language just to manipulate.

    What a surprise.

  3. Pingback: The American Street » Blog Archive » Bush Speech: Close-captioned for the democracy impaired

  4. We should be surprised if he ever had any intention of cleaning up the monumental mess he’s created in the ME. Throughout his entire adult life he has created monumental messes then swaggered off relying on others to clean them up, which others always did. That road eventually led him to the job of the most powerful man in the world. Who’s to say that he won’t eventually be seated at the right hand – or is that the left hand – of the Almighty? Hasn’t he earned it?

  5. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional.

    Deceptive. He’s delusional in being the commander guy, but his speech last night was pure deception. Even his “return on success” claim was a deliberate attempt to confound reality.

    What puzzles me most is how the hell anybody could even extend an iota of believability to the nonsense that pours from his lips. It doesn’t speak well for the American public..What a bunch of gullible saps we must be as a nation if outrage isn’t being heard all over our land. Bush’s lies and deceits are so so obvious that it’s become an embarrassment to be called an American.

  6. I would LOVE to see moveon do an ad comparing the Iraq mess to WWII. It can be shown in a few video seconds how from it’s peak in Europe or the Pacific the threat was pushed back with dates, and how in the day of WWII it was reality that armies in uniform fought armies in uniform, taking orders from a capitol city, and the doctrine of it’s time was that once you took the capitol, you won the game – I mean war. Wingnuts insist on trying to view the Iraq conflict in WWII terms.

    On the other hand, it can be shown that in Iraq, we ‘won’ in conventional terms in days with minimal casualties, but in the years after victory, the death toll for soldiers and civilians has spiraled to the present time. The president is asking for a commitment of a decade or more which provide anyone in the mideast who objects to our occupation with targets to kill.

    Wingnuts are trying to transfer the emotional association of WWII to the Iraq conflict. In the grand debate, they have to be denied that linkage because it’s delusional to compare the two. Iraq is VietNam with sand instead of jungles.

    The other argument thats berift of reason is that if they win in Iraq, they will follow us here. After the fall of Saigon, did the Viet Cong attack Omaha? Will OBL build landing craft or B-52s? Yes, a real defense that involeves border security, and screening who can board a plane or ship bound the US is only rational.(The open-borders crowd is a delusional as wingnuts. This is the ONLY big where Democrats are vulnerable in the next election.) The destruction of Iraq has nothing to do with the mission of national security.

  7. #8

    The “iota of believability” is courtesy of the media hirelings who are stenographers to power peddling the WH talking points as news. I think it works this way: The president speaks: The listeners scratch their heads: The hirelings tell the listener what the president wants them to believe. There’s your believability.

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