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10 January 2007

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Will

TNI.ORG Article

The "National Interest" was kind enough to publish another piece of mine on the subject of a "Concert of the Greater Middle East."

PL

http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=13252

28 December 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink

North Bay

"Focused on American interests".

You surely anticipated this question. Specifically, to which American interests do you refer?

Ian Whitchurch

This is out of Kaplan at Slate quoting GWB.

And let's look at those benchmarks. Bush said that the Iraqi government has promised "to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November." It "will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis." It will "spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure."

OK, lets focus on the third one first.

Iraq is currently producing 2 million barrels a day (henceforth mmbd). Lets assume they are netting $35 after production and distribution costs.

Thats $70m a day.

$10bn thus represents about half of total Iraqi oil revenue.

Note, we havent paid a dime towards the Iraqi civil service, pensions or the Army. This would be kinda important in security.

I'm also guessing fixing the oil infrastructure (and believe me, it needs it) is counted under the $10bn. If it's an additional cost, then things stretch even worse, especially if you want that 2 mmbd to go to 2.2 or even 3.

OK, so we will assume that Iraq's 26 million people split the rest, as per the second point. Lets see, half of 2mmbd at net 35, thats $70m a day, split between 26 million people minus 10% for admin ... thats about call it 2, maybe 3 bucks a day each - but thats still a decent chunk of the $1800 per capita GDP CIA's world factbook says they were probably at in 2005.

But I cant see how you can fight a civil war against an insurgency, and spend $10bn on infrastructure and have unallocated oil revenue to split among the population. 2mmbd between 26m people and a war just isnt enough.

Ian Whitchurch

W. Patrick Lang

All

"I can't see a conference as the best way to go. It would inevitably build up expectations making agreements very difficult to come by. And alot of the participants have no credibility in each other's eyes. A patient incremental approach led by someone or a small group of widely respected people from both inside and outside the region quietly negotiating over a period of years sounds like a much more promising way to go."

That was the recommendation in my article. Only a fool would think that a single grandiose conference anywhere would lead to anything.

Secondly, only a fool would think that the present megalomaniacal administration would do anything but drive the United states on towards self immolation.

No. No. The idea in the article is to state what policy SHOULD BE. Someone has to do that as an alternative to the present nuttiness.

By the way, look up some article on the "Concert of Europe," to get that straight. pl

Will

It "will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."

I read that differently. I read it to mean that the centrally located oil starved Sunniis would be cut in on the oil revenure stream by the Shiia and the Kurds. Much talked about but never implemented.

Peter Principle

"The system has been known as the Concert of Europe. What is now needed is a Concert of the Greater Middle East."

Purely from the standpoint of imperial stability, this may be correct -- although an alternative way of looking at the Congress of Vienna is that it locked in a reactionary, obsolete status quo enforced by Russian and Prussian autocrats, leading first to decadence and then to world war.

Either way, though, the Congress of Vienna wasn't possible until Napoleon had been defeated, the revolutionary spirit of '89 crushed, and stability restored at bayonet point.

Who's going to do that in the Middle East?

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

The politicians must be made aware of this - they are the only ones who can make a change. Specifically either DNC or RNC.

You need to get the Republicans interested in this scheme - they need some one with ideas to get their chest-nuts (family jewels) out of the fire.

The Democrats have absolutely no interest in an alternate and useful policy - they are not going to help the Republicans and thus assume their risks (even partially) - if you see a Republican drawning; just push him down more.

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