But there is a curious aspect contained within the story that is skipped over by Huber, who focused on the production of the story, and despite the talk of dire warnings the Bush administration is passing to the Maliki government over the issue of "progress," the oil law remains the first and foremost concern even for our "top military commander." But first, failure to pass the oil law comes with a threat:
The top American military commander for the Middle East has warned Iraq’s prime minister in a closed-door conversation that the Iraqi government needs to make tangible political progress by next month to counter the growing tide of opposition to the war in Congress.Or what, exactly? We'll pull out? We'll stay put? Since we already know the answer to these questions, what is the threat to Maliki? It should be obvious that the only thing the Bush administration can threaten Maliki with is his own removal, which would make further mockery of the "sovereignty" of Iraq, something that is already clearly a joke.
In a Sunday afternoon discussion that mixed gentle coaxing with a sober appraisal of politics in Baghdad and Washington, the commander, Adm. William J. Fallon, told Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that the Iraqi government should aim to complete a law on the division of oil proceeds by next month.Immediately, one must ask, why is the commander of the US forces pushing the Iraqi government on the oil law? Certainly, the western media veneer of "political reconciliation" shrouds the oil law, which has been pushed in the media as an engine of equal distribution of oil wealth, but which most Iraqis understand will be a gift to Big Oil. Indeed, equal distribution of oil wealth is hardly a necessary feature of the oil law itself as that requirement is already part of the Iraq Constitution. The oil law, however, introduces a mechanism that would "open the Iraqi oil industry’s doors wide open to foreign investment." It is this "foreign investment" that have Iraqis concerned because, as with any investment, return is expected and the oil law, while not explicitly saying so, provides a mechanism whereby "oil executives" will sit on the Federal Oil and Gas Council and have a great deal of influence on who receives oil contracts and what the profit taking on those contracts will be. Many expect that the return on "foreign investment" will be on the order of 75% of all profits, and contracts, so-called Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), will have effective terms of many decades.
As been shown already, this law is hugely contentious within Iraq, though you would hardly get any sense of that from most western media outlets, especially at the NY Times. And Gordon continues the tradition by neither mentioning the strike by Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions over the oil law nor that Maliki sent troops to surround striking workers in Basra, nor that he ordered the arrest of union leaders. No, none of what might explain why the oil law is having problems being passed in the Iraqi parliament appear in Gordon's sop to the White House propaganda efforts. What is clear in Gordon's piece is that, whatever problems the Iraqis are having in dealing with the oil law, rest assured it is all the Iraqis' fault for being unwilling to pass an oil law that was primarily written in consultation with various White House agents.
What Fallon's remark demonstrates is that, rather than concern for the security situation in Iraq -- something that will hardly improve with the passage of a highly suspicious oil law -- current US military leaders are as much a part of the overall imperial scam as the White House. This is probably why Bush had to dump the inconvenient generals who appeared unwilling to enjoin the military in a decades-long, violent occupation that would surely diminish US military capacity. Iraq is no South Korea.
In fact, passage of the law in its current form might actually make things worse. But Fallon is not concerned with that but, rather, with demonstrating that the military knows its place in the imperial mission and just what are the goals of that mission, regardless of it deleterious effects on ground troops and the future of the US military. As far as the Oil Law is concerned, it is the one aspect of the mission upon which the White House and the Pentagon are in full agreement.