Friday, November 13, 2009

Unholy Alliance

When Republicans go to war in the Middle East, it's always a War for Oil. American progressives in the nation's diplomatic corps can be counted on to offer us nuanced reasons why any such war is a perfidious evil that has ruined America's standing in the world, while European progressives can be counted on to cock their snoots in America's direction, with a special role for Norwegians in their strategic dispensing of Nobel Prizes to encourage proper American behavior. What to think when a prominent American progressive teams up with a Norwegian oil company to make big $$ off of a Kurdish oil field? My head hurts just thinking about it: American Advisor To Kurds Stands To Reap Oil Profits
Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry. In the summer of 2005, he was also an adviser to the Kurdish regional government as Iraq wrote its Constitution — tough and sensitive talks not least because of issues like how Iraq would divide its vast oil wealth.

Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.

In the constitutional negotiations, he helped the Kurds ram through provisions that gave their region — rather than the central Baghdad government — sole authority over many of their internal affairs, including clauses that he maintains will give the Kurds virtually complete control over all new oil finds on their territory.

Mr. Galbraith, widely viewed in Washington as a smart and bold foreign policy expert, has always described himself as an unpaid adviser to the Kurds, although he has spoken in general terms about having business interests in Kurdistan, as the north of Iraq is known.

Jeez, advising Joe Biden and John Kerry on foreign policy? What a thankless task, kind of like filling the ocean with a teaspoon after someone empties it with a sieve. No wonder Galbraith was looking for his payday.

Tom Maguire has already provided the definitive breakdown of the scandal (No Blood For Oil Unless It Is for Democrats) including the Joe Biden connection to all this, which the NY Times resolutely obscured and downplayed in the its reporting. Galbraith was a big advocate of the 3-way "partition" scheme, which would have resulted in (1) a bloody civil war, if not genocide (2) massive dislocation of innocents and (3) big oil money for Galbraith. Sounds good! Joe Biden was known as the most prominent US politician who supported the partition (that was his big alternative to the Surge), but the Times manages to be blessedly ignorant of this.

The Times might have also mentioned that Galbraith was in the news (and its op-ed page) recently making a big stink about fraud in the Afghani presidential election, something for which he was fired from his UN job after accusing the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan of covering up the fraud. In doing so, Galbraith was able to act in the manner beloved of progressive foreign policy wise heads; making a big "noble" stink over election fraud and corruption while offering a ready excuse for, say, a dithering young president to abandon a war he didn't want to have to wage in the first place. Hey! We can't fight a war in Afghanistan! Place is corrupt like you wouldn't believe! Darn! Well, let's start packin'! There's another Biden connection for those who care to look, inasmuch as Biden thinks the "real" war is in Pakistan. That's the liberals' way of war; always eager to fight, but not in the place where the fighting is going on. Can we call this phenomenon "Keynsian Diplomacy?"

What's galling is this: Galbraith is a member of America's semi-permanent ruling class; son of John Kenneth Galbraith and brother to John Jr., The Nation's favorite economist. Galbraith is relying on the old "I was just acting as a private citizen" ploy, but come on. He was advocating the partition of Iraq for years all the while joining the chorus of voices castigating "stoopid" Bush. But, Bush's loyalty was at least to the United States. Galbraith was much too sophisticated for such provincialism, preferring the company of Kurds and Norwegians who would secretly pass him millions while he loudly played the role of monkish foreign policy genius.

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