(The story linked to above is viewable till midnight tonite C.S.T 2-24-2003 after that you will have to subscribe to the Houston Cronicle to read it)
WASHINGTON – Peace protesters are parading through the streets. The United Nations Security Council continues to squabble, and the United States has yet to decide whether to go to war in Iraq.
**While so much about a second Persian Gulf war remains uncertain, the Bush administration is busily planning what Iraq’s oil industry might look like after Saddam Hussein: **
·** The Pentagon already has scoped out Iraq’s oil fields**, hoping to forestall any order from Saddam to torch the nation’s crude wealth.
· The U.S. State Department’s Future of Iraq office has been soliciting input from “Free Iraqis” on a range of economic and social issues.
· And the White House is considering who will be in charge of the second-largest oil reserves in the world.
Whether an American might soon be running Iraq’s oil sector remains unclear.
But this much seems certain: The White House is considering a radical re-creation of Iraq’s government and economy.
Iraqi exiles, opposition leaders, even Westerners of Iraqi descent are being asked to advise the Bush administration on the country’s tax structure,** foreign investment in the oil sector and Iraq’s future membership in the OPEC cartel**.
“If they’re not taking us seriously, the U.S. government is spending a lot of money for nothing,” said John Kanno, a California-based electrical engineer whose family fled Iraq before he was born.
If a U.S.-led invasion proves successful, Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces for that region of the world, initially would assume authority as military governor of the country.
As currently envisioned, Iraq’s government ministries would remain largely intact,** once those “tainted with the crimes and excesses of the current regime” were removed**, Douglas Feith, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for policy, told lawmakers earlier this month.
The administration’s plan calls for staffing the top three tiers of the government ministries with American officers, noted Ahmad Chalabi, head of the opposition group Iraqi National Congress, writing last week in an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal.
**If correct, such a proposal would presumably include Iraq’s all-important oil ministry.
White House officials could not confirm or deny Chalabi’s information.**
**Concerned about repairing any damaged fields and boosting production as quickly as possible, the administration already has been casting about for possible financial help from the private sector. **
Among the Iraqi exiles, attracting foreign investment as a means of helping Iraq boost its oil production is a popular idea. So, too, is the notion of a “flat” tax for a country unaccustomed to income taxes.
But there is much less consensus about whether the country’s national oil company should be privatized or whether Iraq, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, should pull out of the group.
In recent weeks, the industry has been buzzing with rumors about Bill Martin, a former Energy Department official and Washington consultant who has been working with his friend, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
Martin, in an interview, tried to dispel speculation he might be appointed Iraq’s next energy czar. The Washington-based consultant said he has been working with Wolfowitz in a part-time, noncompensated basis on “personnel” issues.
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They say that actions speak louder than words and based on this article and one that appeared in the same newspaper a couple of weeks ago concerning the militarys plan to sieze the oilfields early in the war to pay for reparations, these actions say a lot about the present administrations motives.
I open the floor to discussion.