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Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil
Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Even as Iraq is on the verge of splintering into a sectarian civil war, four big oil companies are on the verge of locking up its massive, profitable reserves, known to everyone in the petroleum industry as "the prize."
Iraq is sitting on a mother lode of some of the lightest, sweetest, most profitable crude oil on earth, and the rules that will determine who will control it and on what terms are about to be set.
The Iraqi government faces a December deadline, imposed by the world's wealthiest countries, to complete its final Oil Law. Industry analysts expect that the result will be a radical departure from the laws governing the country's oil-rich neighbors, giving foreign multinationals a much higher rate of return than with other major oil producers, and locking in their control over what George Bush called Iraq's "patrimony" for decades, regardless of what kind of policies future elected governments might want to pursue.
AlterNet Editor's note: this is the first of a two-part series.
(16 Oct 2006)
US May Have Weeks, Not Months, To Avert Civil War, Adviser Warns
James Sterngold, San Francisco Chronicle via CommonDreams
With the violence in Iraq flaring dangerously, a national consensus is growing, even among senior Republicans, that the United States must consider a major change in strategy in the coming months.
But in a sign of the growing sense of urgency, a member of a high-powered government advisory body that is developing options to prevent Iraq's chaotic collapse warns that the United States could have just weeks, not months, to avoid an all-out civil war.
"There's a sense among many people now that things in Iraq are slipping fast and there isn't a lot of time to reverse them," said Larry Diamond, one of a panel of experts advising the Iraq Study Group, which is preparing a range of policy alternatives for President Bush.
(18 Oct 2006)
Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?
Jeff Stein, The New York Times
FOR the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”
...But so far, most American officials I’ve interviewed don’t have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?
(17 Oct 2006)
Bush signs torture bill; Americans lose essential freedom
Edward M. Gomez, San Francisco Chronicle
George W. Bush got what he wanted, ostensibly as a tool in his unfocused "war on terror": By signing into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Bush has made it legal for the C.I.A. to continue operating torture facilities in undisclosed, foreign countries, and for the writ of habeas corpus to be suspended for individuals who are designated "enemy combatants" against the U.S. (Designated by whom? That question remains unanswered.) The law also "establishes military tribunals that would allow some use of evidence obtained by coercion [that is, torture], but would give defendants access to classified evidence being used to convict them." (Reuters)
The provisions of Bush's new torture law mean that Americans have lost the key, constitutional right on which Anglo-American criminal law (and criminal-law procedures in true democracies in general) is founded; that's the basic right of an individual to know why he or she is being apprehended and detained.
(17 Oct 2006)
Related: Web could be terror training camp: Chertoff
The Day the American Empire Ran Out of Gas
Gore Vidal, The Nation (1986) via Bill Totten's Blog
On September 16 1985, when the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation, the American Empire was as dead, theoretically, as its predecessor, the British. Our empire was seventy-one years old and had been in ill financial health since 1968. Like most modern empires, ours rested not so much on military prowess as on economic primacy.
Despite the title, this article does not refer to energy issues, however you will find a history of US empire and analysis of geopolitics which stands up remarkably well twenty years later. -AF