Bloggers on the impending demise of the Iraqi oil law.

Bloggers on the impending demise of the Iraqi oil law.

Bloggers on the impending demise of the Iraqi oil law.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Sept. 14 2007 5:50 PM

Oil Over but the Shoutin'

Cyberspace judges the all-but-kaput Iraqi oil law as the final indicator that political reconciliation in Iraq is impossible. Also, there's the usual wrap-up of the president's Still Surgin' speech, and not as much giddiness about a Led Zeppelin reunion as you might think.

Oil Over but the Shoutin': Once cited as a major benchmark for political compromise, Iraq's drafted "oil law," which would have controlled the management of the nation's oil fields and determined revenue-sharing, appears doomed. Problems arose between Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani and the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has already begun selling oil exploration contracts to Western companies.

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Kyle E. Moore at lefty blog Comments From Left Field says the not-so-invisible hand of U.S. privatization is behind the stalled legislation: "In truth, this is a classic example of setting the Iraqis up for failure.  At a time when political reconciliation is absolutely, positively the single most important thing in regards to fixing Iraq, we are balancing that reconciliation on a highly divisive bill that undermines our own position by tipping our hand on 'why we're really there.' "

"Once an oil law is in place, contracts will be on firmer ground, Iraq can collect more revenue, and it will be clear how that revenue is to be distributed to the various provinces. Money flowing to the regions, in turn, could help bolster provincial governments, and give people a stake in the continued functioning of the central government," writes liberal hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. "But it takes actual cooperation to produce, enact, and sign off on that sort of legislation, and cooperation has always been in short supply. If, for some unfathomable reason, we needed more evidence that the Iraqi political process is dysfunctional, we just got it."

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo sees cronyism leading all the way back to Texas: "The story though connects up with another one … the decision of the Kurdistan regional government to sign an oil exploration deal with Dallas-based Hunt Oil, run by Mr. Ray L. Hunt. …[R]emember, Hunt, ... is also a pal of the president's. Indeed, President Bush has twice appointed Hunt to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. So while the president is striving to get the Iraqis to meet these benchmarks one of his own pals -- and more importantly, political appointees -- is busy helping to tear the whole thing apart."

Lefty "RFK Lives" at Daily Kos cites a much-discussed Paul Krugman editorial, which mentions the Hunt connection and concludes that the marketplace has already decided in favor of Iraq's dissolution: "While I've never worshipped at the altar of the Mighty Market, on this occasion, the markets offer the most accurate reflections of existing reality.  It is extraordinarily ironic that a country that largely does worship there remains so ignorant of the fact that the markets have spoken on this literal life and death issue."

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Liberal journalist Brian Beutler laments what even the Bushies knew was a major determinant for Iraq's success: "This was in some ways an insight the Bush administration got exactly right. Without some widely agreed upon method of distributing resources (a reconciliation, if you will) the people of Iraq would be left with little choice but to battle with each other over oil wealth. Oil is perhaps the key incentive warring factions have to stop fighting and take an interest in the stabilization of their country. That it wasn't enough says something important."

Read more about the dying oil law.

Honey, change the channel: President Bush delivered a speech Thursday in which he affirmed that the surge is indeed working and that, as a sign of its success, he's now ready to recall about 21,700 troops from Iraq. Bloggers aren't having it.

Andrew Sullivan notes that Bush is a "humbled" president: "He seemed almost broken to me. His voice raspy, his eyes watery, his affect exhausted, his facial expression almost bewildered. I thought I would feel angry; but I found myself verging toward pity. The case was so weak, the argument so thin, the evidence for optimism so obviously strained that one wondered whom he thought he was persuading."

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Wonkette had better things to do, but read the transcript. Kind of: "Did he mean to say that Iraq's government was 'getting things done' and then list things that they specifically weren't getting done? Like 'oil revenue sharing' and 'not getting blown the fuck up'? The Post lists other examples of Bush's speech contradicting government reports and shit Bush said himself like a week ago."

"The surreal timeline of the Iraq war is littered with moments like these—too many about-faces and nonsensical blunders to keep a firm grip on reason," writes Peter Scheer at lefty site TruthDig. "And now, the one goal supporters of the war seem determined to realize is to achieve some vague, if delusory, sense of victory."

Read more about Bush's Iraq speech.

One for the road: The full surviving lineup of Led Zeppelin—Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones—will reunite  for the first time since the late '80s to honor the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

Stuart Heritage at Heckler Spray cautions against taking the stairway to heaven just yet: "The curse of the comeback seems to affect every band around these days … to such an extent that part of us honestly believes that it won't be long before we'll have to inform you that Paul McCartney is getting The Beatles back together again, with John Lennon and George Harrison dug up and operated like particularly gruesome marionette puppets."

Pop culture blog Moonscooch adds: "Unfortunately John Bonham won't be able to join them (since he's dead, you see) so maybe his son could replace him or maybe Dave Grohl could drum? He sings their best song super-good.'

Read more about the Zeppelin reunion.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.