Category Archives: middle east politics

invasion of islamic countries revisited

Combat Veteran and Military Historian Tells Bill Moyers, “No Way” Do We Go Back into Iraq:  “Invading and occupying countries in the Islamic world is a pretty dumb idea,” says Andrew Bacevich.

Moyers and Company / By Bill Moyers

June 20, 2014 |

The escalating bloodbath in Iraq has triggered renewed debate on how muscular America’s foreign policy should be. Speaking about the crisis earlier, President Obama recently said that the US is ready for “targeted and precise military action” against advancing Islamists if needed, adding that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq.”

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. They said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could turn the smoking gun into a mushroom cloud, and they were wrong. They said Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda, and they were wrong. They said the war would be a cakewalk, and they were wrong. Over and again they were wrong, yet 11 years, thousands of lives, millions of refugees, and trillions of dollars later, the very same armchair warriors in Washington who from the safety of their Beltway bunkers called for invading Baghdad, are demanding once again that America plunge into the sectarian wars of the Middle East.

A chorus of kindred voices fills the echo chamber: the same old faces, the same old arguments, never acknowledging the phony premises and fraudulent intelligence that led to disaster and chaos in the first place. A headline at the website ThinkProgress sums it up: “The People Who Broke Iraq Have A Lot of Ideas About Fixing It Now.”

Among the most celebrated of these hawks is Robert Kagan, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. A darling of the neocons, he’s been a foreign policy adviser to John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton. In 2002, he and William Kristol wrote that for the war on terrorism to succeed, Saddam Hussein must be removed. When George W. Bush set out to do just that, Kagan cheered him on, and then, in 2006, called for a surge in American troop levels to prevent Iraq’s collapse.

Now Robert Kagan is stirring controversy again with this lengthy article in “The New Republic,” “Superpowers Don’t Get To Retire: What our tired country still owes the world.” He calls for America to return to muscular, global activism.

Kagan’s much-discussed article brought a sharp riposte from another scholar and historian who sees the world and America’s role differently. Andrew Bacevich has seen the horrors of war too closely to advocate more of the same policies that failed in Vietnam and Iraq. A graduate of West Point with 23 years in the military, including time in Vietnam, he teaches history at Boston University, writes best-selling books on foreign policy, and articles and essays in journals both liberal and conservative, like this critique of Kagan in “Commonweal” magazine titled, “The Duplicity of the Ideologues.” Welcome back.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: So what do you mean, the duplicity of ideologues?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, Kagan’s essay, which does deserve to be read, simply because of Kagan’s stature in Washington, gives us a falsified, sanitized, and in some respects, illusory account of recent American history.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, his notion of American history, particularly since 1945, is one that we might term an extended liberation narrative where the United States devoted itself, in the wake of World War II, to promoting liberal values, democracy everywhere, fighting against evildoers, and he concludes that this success is being squandered by Barack Obama and those who are unwilling to continue this crusade.

Now, that narrative is only sustainable if you leave a lot of important facts out, or if you distort those facts. So we get no mention of overthrowing Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. We get no mention of the CIA overthrowing the president of Guatemala. We get virtually no mention of the Vietnam War, which he dismisses as sort of an unfortunate incident of no particular significance. And perhaps most egregiously, he utterly ignores the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he served as a cheerleader for. And which to a very large extent, account for the problem that we’re dealing with today in the greater Middle East.

BILL MOYERS: This week, one of his allies, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Elizabeth wrote a long essay in “The Wall Street Journal.” They say, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is ‘ending’ the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so.

His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality. Watching the black-clad ISIS jihadists take territory once secured by American blood is final proof, if any were needed, that America’s enemies are not ‘decimated.’ They are emboldened and on the march.”

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I’d say rarely has a major American newspaper published an op-ed that was so thoroughly shameless. Again, what is the cause? What was the catalyst of the instability that racks Iraq today? The simple answer is the one that Cheney and his daughter don’t want to mention: the unnecessary, misguided, and frankly immoral war launched by the United States in 2003. We destabilized Iraq. In many respects, we destabilized the larger region. And misfortune of Barack Obama is that he inherited this catastrophe, created by the previous administration.

BILL MOYERS: Even Cheney once thought that it would be a serious mistake to occupy Baghdad. This is Dick Cheney in 1994 reflecting on the first Iraq war– when he was Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush.

BRUCE COLLINS on C-Span,1994: Do you think the US, or UN forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

DICK CHENEY on C-Span,1994: No.

BRUCE COLLINS on C-Span,1994: Why not?

DICK CHENEY on C-Span,1994: Because if we’d gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. It would have been a US occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government in Iraq, you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim– fought over for eight years. In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire.

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think the contrast between what Cheney said in 1994 and what he says 20 years later is actually very illustrative of this point. And that is that what passes for foreign-policy debate today, is just nakedly partisan. Back in 1994, he was in the business of defending George Herbert Walker Bush. Now he’s in the business of defending George W. Bush. But basically attacks Barack Obama, blaming Obama for any difficulties that we’re having. And the point about naked partisanship I think really applies in a somewhat larger stage. When you look at the people who get invited on the Sunday talk shows, or whose op-eds appear in “The New York Times” or in “The Washington Post” or other prominent organs of opinion, they are people who are participating in this partisan debate.

There is very little effort to look beyond the Bush versus Obama, Republican versus Democrat, to try to understand the larger forces in play that have brought us to where we are today. And the understanding of which could then make it possible for us to think somewhat more creatively about policy than simply having an argument about whether we should, you know, attack with drones or attack with manned aircraft.

BILL MOYERS: What are those larger forces at work? Because Robert Kagan says, quote, “world order shows signs of cracking, and perhaps even collapsing.” And that these changes signal a transition into a different world order, which the United States should attempt to lead.

ANDREW BACEVICH: When Kagan uses phrases like world order, he’s describing something that never really existed except in his own imagination. But again, the point is worth reflecting on. Kagan believes, many people in Washington believe, perhaps too many people in the hinterland also believe, that the United States shapes the global order. That there is an order for which we alone are responsible.

Where does this kind of thinking come from? I mean, I think in many respects, what we see here is the contemporary expression of the whole notion of American exceptionalism. That we are chosen. We are called upon, called upon by God, called upon by providence, to somehow transform the world and remake it in our own image. Now, Robert Kagan wouldn’t state it as bluntly as I just did. But that is the kind of thinking that I think makes it very difficult for us to have a genuine and serious foreign policy debate.

BILL MOYERS: So the other side would argue, as they are, that well, look at the beheadings and the murders, the brutality and cruelty that the radical Islamists are inflicting upon their adversaries, and the people of Iraq. Isn’t that an evil to which we are the only ones can respond?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, first of all, it is an evil to which we contributed by our folly in invading Iraq back in 2003. There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq under the previous order. That’d be the first point. And the second point I think would be: let’s be practical. Let’s be pragmatic. If indeed we are called upon to act, let us frame our actions in ways that actually will yield some positive outcome.

I’m personally not persuaded that further military action in Iraq is actually going to produce an outcome more favorable than the last one. If what we have here on our hands in Iraq, in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East is a humanitarian catastrophe, then let us become serious about asking ourselves, what is the appropriate response? What can the richest and most powerful country in the world do to alleviate the suffering of innocent people who are caught up in this violence?

And my answer to that question is not air strikes. My answer to that question is, well, if indeed we have a moral responsibility to come to the aid of suffering Iraqis and Syrians, then we better start opening up our wallets to be far more generous and forthcoming in providing assistance that people need.

You know, we live in a country where if you want to go bomb somebody, there’s remarkably little discussion about how much it might cost, even though the costs almost inevitably end up being orders of magnitude larger than anybody projected at the outcome. But when you have a discussion about whether or not we can assist people who are suffering, then suddenly we come very, you know, cost-conscious.

BILL MOYERS: What form would that assistance take, given the hostilities on the ground there, and the murderous internecine, tribal, sectarian conflicts going on there? How do we help people who are at this moment suffering as a consequence, as you have indicated earlier, of polices we pursued?

ANDREW BACEVICH: People flee these conflict zones. They flee into neighboring countries where they end up in pretty squalid refugee camps, mostly run by the United Nations. Let’s double, triple, quadruple the support that we provide to maintain those refugee camps. Or let’s go beyond that. Let us welcome at least some number of them to America, where they will have safety and freedom. I mean, if we’re serious about caring about the well-being of these people, that’s one practical way to respond to their plight.

BILL MOYERS: So do we conclude from that that you don’t believe there is anything practical we can do on the ground to separate the warring forces or help the government forces in Iraq prevent this violence? Is the only option murderous genocide and optimum paralysis?

ANDREW BACEVICH: We have been engaged in the Islamic world at least since 1980, in a military project based on the assumption that the adroit use of American hard power can somehow pacify or fix this part of the world. We can now examine more than three decades of this effort.

Let’s look at what US military intervention in Iraq has achieved, in Afghanistan has achieved, in Somalia has achieved, in Lebanon has achieved, in Libya has achieved. I mean, ask ourselves the very simple question: is the region becoming more stable? Is it becoming more democratic? Are we alleviating, reducing the prevalence of anti-Americanism? I mean, if the answer is yes, then let’s keep trying. But if the answer to those questions is no, then maybe it’s time for us to recognize that this larger military project is failing and is not going to succeed simply by trying harder.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, the events that are unfolding in Iraq at this very moment promote a debate within Washington revolving around the question, what should we do about Iraq? But there is a larger and more important question. And the larger and more important question has to do with the region as a whole. And the actual consequences of US military action over the past 30 years.

BILL MOYERS: As you know, Iraq has formally asked the US government to launch air strikes against those Jihadist militants. How do you think that’s going to play out?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I don’t know. My guess would be that this will substantially increase the pressure on the president to do just that. And my question would be if we launch air strikes, and if the air strikes don’t have a decisive effect in turning the tables on the ground, then what? I mean, this is always, I think, a concern when you begin a military operation that you have some reasonable sense of what you’re going to do next if the first gambit doesn’t succeed.

BILL MOYERS: Many people are saying that Barack Obama is feckless, lacks will, or strength, and that he’s enabling the defeat of our interest in the Middle East by pulling the troops back and by being indifferent to what’s happening there now.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, he’s not indifferent. I mean, I’m not here to defend the Obama approach to foreign policy, which I think has been mediocre at best. That said, the president has learned some things. I think the most important thing the president learned from his predecessor is that invading and occupying countries in the Islamic world is a pretty dumb idea. It leads to complications and enormous costs. So we see him reticent about putting so-called boots on the ground. That said, the president certainly has not been reluctant to use force in a variety of ways. Usually on small-scale drone strikes, commando raids, and the like.

Where I would fault the president is that he hasn’t been able to go beyond learning the negative lessons of the Bush era to coming up with a positive approach to the Islamic world. Shortly after he was inaugurated he went to Cairo, gave a famous speech, speech proposed that there was going to be a new beginning, turn the page, a new beginning of US relations with the Islamic world.

Who would not endorse that proposition? I mean, I certainly do. But it has come to nothing. Nobody in the Obama administration, either in the first term or in the present term, as far as I can tell, has been able to figure out how to operationalize this notion of a new relationship between ourselves and the Islamic world. One can give Secretary Kerry credit for trying to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Were we able to broker a peace that created a sovereign, coherent, viable Palestinian state, that actually could be the one thing we could do that would seriously change the tenure of US relations with the people of the Islamic world. But that effort has failed.

BILL MOYERS: But you seem to think that the other thing we could do is end our estrangement with Iran. What do you think would come from that?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Neither Iran nor the United States has an interest in a massive, bloody, protracted civil war in Iraq. Both the United States and Iran have an interest in greater stability in this region. And I think that it would be at least advisable to explore the possibility, whether this common interest in stability can produce some sort of an agreement comparable to Nixon’s opening to China. When Nixon went to China, that didn’t make China our ally. It didn’t have the immediate effect of bringing about a political change in China. But it did change the strategic balance in ways that were favorable to us and frankly favorable to the rest of the world.

BILL MOYERS: What is it, about how we go to war? We poured blood and treasure into Vietnam and Iraq and wound up with exactly the opposite consequences than we wanted. And we keep repeating, hearing the same arguments and claims that we should do it again.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, war itself is evil. But war is an evil that should command our respect. War is something that we should not take lightly, that we should not discuss frivolously. And I think that that’s one of the great failings of our foreign policy establishment. That our foreign policy establishment does not take war seriously. It assumes that the creation of precision guided weapons makes war manageable. Removes from war the element of risk and chance that are always inherent in warfare. So these are people who, quite frankly, most of them don’t know much about war and, therefore, who discuss war in frivolous ways.

BILL MOYERS: And yet, there’s this still almost religious belief in force as the savior.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think your use of religious terms is very appropriate here. Because there is a quasi-theological dimension to their thinking related, again, to this notion that we are called. We are chosen. We are the instrument of providence. Summoned to transform the world. And therefore empowered to use force in ways not permitted to any others. I mean, the ultimate travesty of the immediate period after 9/11 was the Bush administration’s embrace of preventive war that became then the rationale for invading Iraq in 2003. But it was a general claim. A general claim that the United States was empowered to use force preventively. Before the threat emerges. Not simply–

BILL MOYERS: Pre-emptory strikes.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Not simply in self-defense. And we should note that as far as I can tell, President Obama has not repealed that notion. Indeed, has used it himself in order to employ force in lesser ways in various situations.

BILL MOYERS: So is it duplicity or self-delusion?

ANDREW BACEVICH: It depends I think on who we are talking about here. For somebody like Vice President Cheney berating Barack Obama for somehow surrendering American leadership and in the course of doing that simply ignoring the record of the administration in which he served– that’s duplicity. That’s malicious partisanship.

But I think when you talk about people like Robert Kagan, they believe. They believe what they believe. They subscribe to a worldview that to my mind is utterly misguided. But they are genuinely committed to the sort of propositions that are on display in his “New Republic” article. I mean, it’s just a question of why those propositions continue to be treated seriously when they should not be.

Watch part two of a video interview with Bacevich, followed by a transcript.

BILL MOYERS: How can one hold to the notion of exceptionalism when America performs so miserably in Vietnam and Iraq? Failed in those two wars fought within 30–

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, the, I mean, the belief in American exceptionalism is accompanied by a very specific, historical narrative. I mean, a story of contemporary history to which we swear fealty or give our allegiance. And that’s the story which is centered on World War II. And centered on a very specific interpretation of World War II as a fight of good against evil, in which the United States liberated Western Europe and overthrew Nazi Germany. Now, that story’s not wrong. It’s just radically incomplete.

And the preoccupation with World War II, particularly the European war, then makes it possible to gloss over much of what followed World War II, during the Cold War, those episodes like overthrowing governments that we didn’t like, befriending autocrats and corrupt dictators around the world making monumental mistakes such as the Vietnam War.

BILL MOYERS: What’s the conclusion you draw from that reading of history?

ANDREW BACEVICH: My reading is that there are no simple, moral lessons to be drawn. My reading is one in which yes, of course, there is evil in the world that needs to be taken into account. And some time must be confronted. But my reading would be, let’s not kid ourselves in somehow imagining that the United States represents all that is good and virtuous, we, ourselves, have committed many sins. And we ought to be cognizant of those sins before we go pronouncing about how the world ought to be run.

BILL MOYERS: Right now the Iraqis confront the fate that befell the South Vietnamese. Do we just walk away from what’s happening there?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I don’t think they face the fate of the South Vietnamese–

BILL MOYERS: You don’t?

ANDREW BACEVICH: –in this sense, we must exercise care in predicting what’s going to happen operationally next week and the week after. But my sense is that this ISIS force, obviously fierce. It’s also relatively small. It doesn’t possess tank divisions. It doesn’t have an air force. It has enjoyed great success in penetrating into the predominately Sunni parts of Iraq. And it professes to wish to overthrow the predominately Shiite government.

My expectation would be that as the Shiites themselves face this prospect that they’ll rally. Not rally in a sense that they’re going to defeat ISIS and eject them from Iraqi territory. But rally in a sense that they’ll be able to deny Baghdad to ISIS, which doesn’t really point to a happy outcome.

It points to the outcome of what could well be a protracted and bloody civil war with the Shiites controlling one part of the country, Sunnis controlling another part of the country and Kurds a third party of the country. That’s not a happy prospect. But I think that’s actually more likely than the scenario we saw in Vietnam back in 1975 where the north simply swept across all of South Vietnam and seized Saigon.

BILL MOYERS: You have recently in “The Los Angeles Times” last week call for rethinking our relationship with Iran. Just as Nixon after Vietnam rethought and reshaped our relationship with our once mortal enemy, China. But that’s the very thing right now, today, the neo-conservatives are opposing. They do not want to change our hostile relationship with Iran.

ANDREW BACEVICH: The fathers of today’s neo-cons were among the people who, back in the 1960s and 1970s, were insisting that unless we fought on to final victory in Vietnam, that the consequences would be catastrophic. That the dominos would fall. That the communists would enjoy a great victory. That victory was not in the offing. And to his considerable credit, the cynical and in many respects amoral Richard Nixon realized that there was one way to salvage at least some positive aspects from this catastrophe in Vietnam.

And that was opening to China. Bringing China, beginning the process of bringing China back into the international community. Making China something other than an enemy of the United States. And that’s what he did. And the notion now it seems to me is that if we had sufficiently bold and creative people guiding U.S. foreign policy today, they might consider a comparable turn with regard to Iran.

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think that it’s manifestly the case that excluding Iran from the international order with the expectation that somehow peace and democracy are going to bloom in Iran, that that’s failed. Iran is an important country. And in many respects, Iranian interests do coincide with American interests. And I think Iraq actually is an example of that.

BILL MOYERS: But the neo-cons are defiantly against collaborating with Iran for any reason because they see that as a potential threat to the survival of Israel.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, they do. And, I mean, the first point would be why should we listen to them at this stage of the game? But the second thing, I think, is to assess pragmatically this Iranian regime. Now it is possible to build the case, particularly back when Mr. Ahmadinejad was the President of Iran that this a country governed by madmen who wanted nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map and would be willing to sacrifice Iran itself in order to achieve that. It’s possible to build that case.

But I think the case is a false one. I think that, first of all, Ahmadinejad is passed from the stage. We’ve got a new president. A new president’s language is considerably different. But more broadly, if you look at the behavior of the Iranian regime, since the revolution back in the late 1970s, they’ve actually performed pretty rationally. They’re not irrational. They’re not madmen. They’re people, frankly, who you can deal with if you can find those points of interest that coincide.

And my preference, as opposed to, confrontation with Iran, war with Iran, as indeed some neoconservatives would propose, my proposition would be that we should explore carefully whether or not that rational regime can be brought to a point where we can strike a deal with them.

BILL MOYERS: You asked, and I don’t think it was rhetorically a moment ago, why should we be listening to them? And that raises the old question, how do they get the audience and the forum that they have despite a record of failure, deception, and as you say, duplicity?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I puzzle over that. And the only answer I’ve been able to come up with has to do with the mindset of Washington journalists. You know, the people who book you to come on the Sunday talk shows, the people who decide whether or not your op-ed submission’s going to be accepted by the Washington Post are people who live within this bubble, this Washington milieu in which everything, it seems to me, gets viewed through the lens of partisanship.

Everything is assumed to be an issue of Republicans versus Democrats, left versus right. You know, the people who like Obama and the people who loathe Obama. And so when the booker for some network news show says, well, gosh, Iraq’s falling apart. Who should we get to come on the show on Sunday? Their little rolodex turns up the pro-Iraq war, anti-Obama typical cast of characters.

Rather than thinking about, gosh, isn’t this a historical development of very considerable magnitude. Who are the voices, who are the people who might have something to reflect on? Who are the people who have might have something to say that’s simply not regurgitating the same sort of talking points that we heard last week and the week before?

I mean, I’m struck by how thin the intellectual discourse is when it comes to foreign policy. There was a time in this country when we had very serious thinkers who were taken seriously and who illuminated the fundamental difficulties that we faced in the world.

They weren’t necessarily– they didn’t get everything right. But what they did was to challenge the conventional wisdom and invite people to look beyond simply the partisan debate of the day. I’m not sure who on our national stage today fills that sort of role. And frankly, the absence of these people is a great misfortune.

BILL MOYERS: What price do we pay for the absence of this critical thinking and inquiry?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, the debate that goes nowhere. I mean, it’s the same talking points are endlessly repeated. That, you know, the warnings against isolationism. The demands for American global leadership, the comparisons with Adolf Hitler.

Whoever the bad guy of the day happens to be, he’s cited as the next Hitler. The recollection of Munich and the warning against appeasement over and over and over again these points are repeated. And they don’t illuminate.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote that a handful of randomly selected citizens of Muncie, Indiana would probably be more reliable on what to do than these oracles in Washington.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I was only half kidding. And what I mean by that is it seems to me that there– that every day citizens would be more likely to view things realistically, pragmatically and would not be swayed by theological or ideological considerations.

BILL MOYERS: We saw that in their outspoken response and felt response when Obama was considering going into Syria. Public opinion really turned that course.

ANDREW BACEVICH: That was the striking moment. Of course from the point of view of people like Kagan, the president was guilty of great folly and not following through on his threat to go to war with Syria. But I think you’re exactly right. The American people would seem to have learned some important lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and are not eager to embroil themselves in yet another major war. And I think to his credit, Barack Obama has now acknowledged that.

BILL MOYERS: Kagan, however, laments the fact that Americans show these signs of being world weary. You can hardly blame them.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, he calls it world weariness. One could also call it world wisdom. I mean, that it shows the capacity of the American people to learn.

BILL MOYERS: But Kagan and his crowd claim that, in your words, that, feckless, silly Americans with weak-willed Barack Obama, their enabler, are abdicating their obligation to lead the planet.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it’s not true. Again, here Kagan is playing to this mythic interpretation of U.S. history which contends that the American people are instinctively isolationist. That all we want to do is to turn away from the world. And that’s simply a false narrative.

The American people even before there was an America that is to say before there was a United States, have been engaged in the world commercially, culturally. Once this republic was created the founders and their successors set out to expand this nation to acquire power, to build wealth. That was a project that began in early in the 19th century. And in many respects reached its culmination with World War II. So the notion that there’s this instinct towards isolationism, although it certainly, you know, that’s a piece of propaganda that has been, rather successfully sold, it is simply propaganda. It’s not true.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you that at a time when our country can’t stop the killing of children in Chicago or prevent homegrown terrorists from attacking schools with their own private arsenals or cope with the chaos on the border with Mexico or rebuild our broken bridges and highways that there is still this cadre, this body, this community of people who believe we can police the Middle East?

ANDREW BACEVICH: They’re deluded. And I think the point implicit in your question is a very good one. Our power is limited. What are the priorities? And there are domestic priorities that are achingly ignored. And yet are arguably far more amenable to solutions than anything in the greater Middle East. So where you want to spend your money? I think we’d be better off spending some of that money in Muncie, Indiana than in Baghdad.

BILL MOYERS: Back when you published “The Limits of Power” you had hope that the lessons we would learn from Iraq, the financial crash, the great recession that followed would lead to a wakeup call. That we would turn around, turn in a better direction. Things would take off in the right direction. What happened to that hope?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it was not fulfilled. There certainly were signs of political change on the left and on the right. The Occupy movement on the left, the Tea Party on the right. But both of those were marginalized I think by the political center, Republican and Democrat which is deeply invested in maintaining the status quo.

Because the Republican party and the Democratic party are supported by, integrated with, a set of structures – whether we’re talking about the National Security bureaucracy or Wall Street – that views change as a threat to their own well-being. And thus far, those proponents of the status quo have succeeded. They’ve gotten their way.

BILL MOYERS: Andrew Bacevich, thank you for being with me.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you.

Bill Moyers has received 35 Emmy awards, nine Peabody Awards, the National Academy of Television’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and an honorary doctor of fine arts from the American Film Institute over his 40 years in broadcast journalism. He is currently host of the weekly public television series Moyers & Company and president of the Schumann Media Center, a non-profit organization which supports independent journalism. He delivered these remarks (slightly adapted here) at the annual Legacy Awards dinner of the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy institute in New York City that focuses on voting rights, money in politics, equal justice, and other seminal issues of democracy. This is his first TomDispatch piece.

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military chief warns against striking iran

Military chief warns against striking Iran

| Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The words Wednesday from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were notable for their blunt pragmatism: An Israeli airstrike on Iran would be high-risk and could further destabilize the region, leading to political and economic chaos.

On Iran’s western border, the U.S. military is more than five years into a war in Iraq that has taken 4,113 American lives and cost U.S. taxpayers more than $600 billion. And on Iran’s eastern border, American commanders are now openly questioning whether they have lost their way in the fight against a resurgent Taliban.

Israel, the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East, has refused to rule out a strike against Iranian nuclear sites, and this week’s New Yorker magazine reported that the U.S. has stepped up its covert operations inside Iran.

While President George W. Bush repeated Wednesday that a military strike remains an option, Mullen’s words of caution underscored the Pentagon’s belief that a move against Iran—by the U.S. or one of its allies—would have an undeniable effect on the ongoing U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us,” Mullen acknowledged during a Pentagon news conference. He added moments later, “This is a very unstable part of the world, and I don’t need it to be more unstable.”

The White House, Israel and Western powers say Iran continues to work toward producing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is intended only for generating electricity. This week, Iran’s foreign minister struck a conciliatory tone when speaking to reporters about the possibility of Tehran agreeing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Mullen’s comments come in the wake of the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the 7-year-old war, with 27 American service members killed in June. About 32,000 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan, compared with 144,000 in Iraq.

Mullen said the possibility of sending more U.S. forces to Afghanistan hinges on the security situation improving in Iraq. Only then, he said, could a stretched U.S. military shift more troops to Afghanistan.

“We’re on an increasingly positive path in Iraq in lots of dimensions,” Mullen said. “And so I’m hopeful toward the end of this year, opportunities like that would be created.”

A potential airstrike against Iran is further complicated by a rapidly changing political scene in Washington, Jerusalem and Tehran. The Bush administration has less than seven months remaining in office, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is embroiled in a bribery scandal and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has lost clout among Iran’s influential clerics.

There also has been much hand-wringing among Sunni Arab leaders about Iran’s influence over a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. And the U.S. military has charged that Iran is responsible for arming Shiite militias that have killed hundreds of U.S. service members in Iraq.

An Israeli airstrike on its nuclear reactor sites might not be as damaging for Iran as it would be to the United States and Israel, said Vali Nasr, a professor of international politics at Tufts University.

“The upside could be a political bonanza for Iran,” Nasr said. “Just as Hezbollah became so popular [in the aftermath of the war between Hezbollah and Israel in the summer of 2006], Iran could gain credibility in the Arab street.”

No surprise for Israel

The ratcheting up of tensions between Iran and Israel echoes Israel’s 1981 bombing of an Iraqi plant near Baghdad that was designed to make nuclear weapons. But in this standoff, Israel does not have the element of surprise, and some military experts said that Israel’s potential desire to launch an airstrike is muddied by the U.S. presence in Iraq.

P.J. Crowley, a retired Air Force colonel who was a special assistant to President Bill Clinton for national security affairs, said Israel presumably would have to inform the U.S. military that it would be flying in airspace that is largely American-controlled.

“From a strategic standpoint, it’s hard to see what you gain [from an airstrike] and easy to see what harm you could do to both Israel and U.S. interests,” Crowley said.

In his comments Wednesday, Mullen appeared to veer away from the administration’s stated policy of refusing direct talks when he said there needs to better dialogue on the issue.

“They remain a destabilizing factor in the region,” Mullen said. “But I’m convinced a solution still lies in using other elements of national power to change Iranian behavior, including diplomatic, financial and international pressure. There is a need for better clarity, even dialogue at some level.”

In a separate development, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, warned Iran on Wednesday that the U.S. would take action if Tehran tried to cut the sea lane through the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point in the flow of much of the world’s oil supply. Cosgriff’s comments were in response to Iranian officials’ threats against Hormuz if there is a Western attack on Iran.

When asked about the threat by Iran to disrupt oil shipments at a White House news conference Wednesday, Bush reiterated that military strikes remain an option but one he preferred not to take.

amadhani@tribune.com

u.k. spokesperson claims “oil is the reason for the war”

Ex-UK Army Chief Confirms Peak Oil Motive for War

Tagged:

The Cutting Edge

americans engage further in iraqi civil war: using air power and missiles

US jets target Shiite areas in Basra
Sunday March 30 2008 00:00 IST

APBAGHDAD: US forces stepped deeper into the Iraqi government’s fight to cripple Shiite militias, launching airstrikes in the southern city of Basra and firing a missile into the main Shiite stronghold in Baghdad. The American support occurred on Friday as Iraqi troops struggled against strong resistance in Basra and retaliation elsewhere in Shiite areas – including more salvos of rockets or mortars into the US-protected Green Zone in Baghdad.

It was the first time American jets have been called to attack militia positions since Iraqi ground forces launched an operation Tuesday to clear Basra of the armed groups that have effectively ruled the streets of the country’s second-largest city for nearly three years.

One militia barrage slammed into the headquarters of the Basra police command late on Friday, triggering a huge fire and explosions when one of the rounds struck a gasoline tanker, police officials said.

Earlier on Friday, US jets struck a building housing militia fighters and blasted a mortar team that was firing on Iraqi forces, British military spokesman Maj. Tim Holloway said without further details.

Many of those groups are believed to receive weapons, money and training from nearby Iran, the world’s most populous Shiite nation.

The crackdown in Basra has provoked a violent reaction – especially from the Mahdi Army of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. His followers accuse rival Shiite parties in the government of trying to crush their movement before provincial elections this fall.

Their anger has led to a sharp increase in attacks against American troops in Shiite areas following months of relative calm after al-Sadr declared a unilateral cease-fire last August.

Before dawn on Friday, a US aircraft fired a Hellfire missile in the Sadr City district – the Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army – after gunmen there opened fire on an American patrol.

The US military said the missile strike killed four militants, but Iraqi officials said nine civilians were killed and nine others wounded.

Another US airstrike targeted a rocket-propelled grenade mounted vehicle in the mostly Sunni neighbourhood of Azamiyah, killing two militants, the military said separately.

US military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Pentagon assessments, said commanders are wary of bringing major firepower into Shiite areas such as Sadr City, fearing large-scale civilian casualties could bring more backlash through Baghdad.

But, the officials said, American forces are more willing to offer air support in Basra, which is the centerpiece of the current showdown.

Defying a curfew in Baghdad, Shiite extremists lobbed more rockets or mortars against the US-protected Green Zone, which has come under steady barrages this week. The attacks prompted the State Department to order Embassy personnel to stay inside.

At least two rounds Friday struck the Green Zone offices of Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, killing two guards and wounding four, his daughter and executive secretary Lubna al-Hashemi said.

andrew sullivan admits his wrongdoing about iraq

What I Got Wrong About Iraq

21 Mar 2008 12:24 pm

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Slate asked me to reflect on my own failings of judgment on the fifth year of the war. Maybe the day we Christans are called to atonement is a good day for publishing it. It’s cross-posted here.

I think I committed four cardinal sins.

Historical Narcissism.

I was distracted by the internal American debate to the occlusion of the reality of Iraq. For most of my adult lifetime, I had heard those on the left decry American military power, constantly warn of quagmires, excuse what I regarded as inexcusable tyrannies and fail to grasp that the nature of certain regimes makes their removal a moral objective. As a child of the Cold War, and a proud Reaganite and Thatcherite, I regarded 1989 as almost eternal proof of the notion that the walls of tyranny could fall if we had the will to bring them down and the gumption to use military power when we could. I had also been marinated in neoconservative thought for much of the 1990s, and seen the moral power of Western intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. All of this primed me for an ideological battle which was, in retrospect, largely irrelevant to the much more complex post-Cold War realities we were about to confront.

When I heard the usual complaints from the left about how we had no right to intervene, how Bush was the real terrorist, how war was always wrong, my trained ears heard the same cries that I had heard in the 1980s. So I saw the opposition to the war as another example of a faulty Vietnam Syndrome, associated it with the far left, or boomer nostalgia, and was revolted by the anti-war marches I saw in Washington. I became much too concerned with fighting that old internal ideological battle, and failed to think freshly or realistically about what the consequences of intervention could be. I allowed myself to be distracted by an ideological battle when what was required was clear-eyed prudence.

Narrow Moralism

I recall very clearly one night before the war began. I made myself write down the reasons for and against the war and realized that if there were question marks on both sides, the deciding factor for me in the end was that I could never be ashamed of removing someone as evil as Saddam from power. I became enamored of my own morality and this single moral act. And he was a monster, as we discovered. But what I failed to grasp is that war is also a monster, and that unless one weighs all the possibly evil consequences of an abstractly moral act, one hasn’t really engaged in anything much but self-righteousness. I saw war’s unknowable consequences far too glibly.

Unconservatism.

I heard and read about ancient Sunni and Shiite divisions, knew of the awful time the British had in running Iraq but had never properly absorbed the lesson. I bought the argument by many neoconservatives that Iraq was one of the more secular and modern of Arab societies, that these divisions were not so deep, that all those pictures of men in suits and mustaches and women in Western clothing were the deeper truth about this rare, modern Arab society; and believed that it could, if we worked at it, be a model for the rest of the Arab Muslim world. I should add I don’t believe that these ancient divides were necessarily as deep as they subsequently became in the chaos that the invasion unleashed. But I greatly under-estimated them – and as someone who liked to think of myself as a conservative, I pathetically failed to appreciate how those divides never truly go away and certainly cannot be abolished by a Western magic wand. In that sense I was not conservative enough. I let my hope – the hope that had been vindicated by the fall of the Soviet Union – get the better of my skepticism. There are times when that is a good thing. The Iraq war wasn’t one of them.

Misreading Bush

Yes, the incompetence and arrogance were beyond anything I imagined. In 2000, my support for Bush was not deep. I thought he was an okay, unifying, moderate Republican who would be fine for a time of peace and prosperity. I was concerned – ha! – that Gore would spend too much. I was reassured by the experience and intelligence and pedigree of Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell. Two of them had already fought and won a war in the Gulf. The bitter election battle hardened my loyalty. And once 9/11 happened, my support intensified as I hoped for the best. His early speeches were magnificent. The Afghanistan invasion was defter than I expected. I got lulled. I wanted him to succeed – too much, in retrospect.

But my biggest misreading was not about competence. Wars are often marked by incompetence. It was a fatal misjudgment of Bush’s sense of morality.

I had no idea he was so complacent – even glib – about the evil that men with good intentions can enable. I truly did not believe that Bush would use 9/11 to tear up the Geneva Conventions. When I first heard of abuses at Gitmo, I dismissed them as enemy propaganda. I certainly never believed that a conservative would embrace torture as the central thrust of an anti-terror strategy, and lie about it, and scapegoat underlings for it, and give us the indelible stain of Bagram and Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib and all the other secret torture and interrogation sites that he created and oversaw. I certainly never believed that a war I supported for the sake of freedom would actually use as its central weapon the deepest antithesis of freedom – the destruction of human autonomy and dignity and will that is torture. To distort this by shredding the English language, by engaging in newspeak that I had long associated with totalitarian regimes, was a further insult. And for me, an epiphany about what American conservatism had come to mean.

I know our enemy is much worse. I have never doubted that. But I never believed that America would do what America has done. Never. My misjudgment at the deepest moral level of what Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld were capable of – a misjudgment that violated the moral core of the enterprise  – was my worst mistake. What the war has done to what is left of Iraq – the lives lost, the families destroyed, the bodies tortured, the civilization trashed – was bad enough. But what was done to America – and the meaning of America – was unforgivable. And for that I will not and should not forgive myself either.

(Photo: sectarian killings in Baquba by Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty.)

bush as bully to u.n. diplomats

Ambassador: Bush personally bullied UN diplomats into supporting Iraq war

Heraldo Muñoz, a personal friend of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chilean ambassador to the United Nations, details the Bush administration’s persuasion tactics in the months leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq in his upcoming memoir, the Washington Post reports.

A Solitary War: A Diplomat’s Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons,” to be released in April 2008, outlines bullying tactics exercised by President Bush in attempts to persuade United Nations diplomats to back a 2003 resolution to authorize military force against Iraq.  Mocking of unsupportive allies, threats of trade reprisals and attempts to fire U.N. envoys were among actions taken by the Bush administration against those less than cooperative, Muñoz writes.

Ultimately, he continues, America’s “rough-and-tumble” strategy backfired, with Bush later reaching out to Chile and Mexico, which he’d earlier spurned for preventing the war resolution, aggressively backed by the United States and Britain, from taking hold.

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EXCERPTS:

On March 14, 2003, less than one week before the eventual invasion, Chile hosted a meeting of diplomats from the six undecided governments to discuss its proposal. But U.S. ambassador John D. Negroponte and then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell moved quickly to quash the initiative, warning their governments that the effort was viewed as “an unfriendly act” designed to isolate the United States.  The diplomats received calls from their governments ordering them to “leave the meeting immediately,” Muñoz writes.

Muñoz said subsequent ties remained tense at the United Nations, where the United States sought support for  resolutions authorizing the occupation of Iraq.  He said that small countries met privately in a secure room at the German mission that was impervious to eavesdropping.  “It reminded me of a submarine or a giant safe,” Muñoz said in an interview.

The United States, he added, expressed “its displeasure” to the German government every time they held a meeting in the secure room. “They couldn’t listen to what was going on.”

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The entire Washington Post article can be read HERE.

republican ex-congressman arrested in al-Qaida fund-raising conspiracy

051017siljander3.jpg
Siljander with wife, Mrs. Rabin, and Arafat 

According to Lara Jakes Jordan, AP reporter:

Former congressman and delegate to the United Nations, Mark Siljander was indicted Wednesday on charges of working for an alleged terrorist fundraising ring that sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

He was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about being hired to lobby senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

He’s accused of lying about lobbying on behalf of an Islamic charity that was accused of sending funds to terrorists.

The 42-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying — money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The charges paint “a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with a former United States congressman to convert stolen federal funds into payments for his advocacy,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein (picture below) said.”

haraznghanbariwainstein.jpg 

Siljander, who served in the House from 1981-1987, was appointed by President Reagan to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year in 1987. Calls to Silander’s business in a Washington suburb went unanswered Wednesday.

His attorney in Kansas City, James R. Hobbs, said Siljander would plead not guilty to the charges against him. “Mark Siljander vehemently denies the allegations in the indictment,” Hobbs said in a statement. He described Siljander as “internationally recognized for his good faith attempts to bridge the gap between Christian and Muslim communities worldwide” and plugged the ex-congressman’s upcoming book on that topic.

The charges are part of a long-running case against the charity, which had been based in Columbia, Mo., before it was designated in 2004 by the Treasury Department as a suspected fundraiser for terrorists. The indictment alleges that IARA also employed a fundraising aide to Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks. IARA has long denied allegations that it has financed terrorists.

The group’s attorney, Shereef Akeel of Troy, Mich., rejected the charges outlined in Wednesday’s indictment. “For four years I have not seen a single piece of a document that shows anyone did anything wrong,” Akeel said. The government accuses IARA of sending approximately $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar “has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan.”

Siljander was elected to Congress initially with the support of fundamentalist Christian groups, and said at the time he won because “God wanted me in.” In 1983, he claimed that “Arab terrorists” planned to kill him during a pro-Jewish rally; the FBI and Secret Service said they knew of no such plot. Siljander attended the rally wearing a bulletproof vest.

After leaving the government, he founded the Washington-area consulting group Global Strategies Inc. and, according to the indictment, was hired by IARA in March 2004 to lobby the Senate Finance Committee to remove the charity from the panel’s list of suspected terror fundraisers. It’s not clear whether Siljander ever engaged in the lobbying push, said John Wood, U.S. attorney in Kansas City.

Nevertheless, IARA paid Siljander with money that was part of U.S. government funding awarded to the charity years earlier for relief work it promised to perform in Africa, the indictment says. In interviews with the FBI in December 2005 and April 2007, Siljander denied doing any lobbying for IARA. The money, he told investigators, was merely a donation from IARA to help him write a book about Islam and Christianity, the indictment says.

In 2004, the FBI raided the IARA’s USA headquarters and the homes of people affiliated with the group nationwide. Since then, the 20-year-old charity has been unable to raise money and its assets have been frozen. The charity has argued that it is a separate organization from the Islamic African Relief Agency, a Sudanese group suspected of financing al-Qaida.

A federal appeals court in Washington ruled in February that the two groups were linked. In all, Siljander, IARA and five of its officers were charged with various counts of theft, money laundering, aiding terrorists and conspiracy. “By bringing this case in the middle of America, we seek to make it harder for terrorists to do business halfway around the globe,” Wood said.

According to a Times Magazine article in May 1981:

Mark Siljander, 29, a Fundamentalist Christian, remarked as follows:

“I’m part of the silent majority that was heard Nov. 4 when President Reagan was elected (and) my support comes from morally concerned citizens who are sick of the situation in this country.” Siljander pledged to battle the Equal Rights Amendment, pornography, abortion, school busing and “big spending.” He championed the neutron bomb, the MX missile and prayer in public schools.

A former prefabricated-house salesman and state legislator, Siljander made his mark by mixing politics and religion. He drew money and manpower from right-to-lifers and support from the Moral Majority and spoke on school prayer and “the Christian’s role in American government.”  His campaign literature was handed out in church bulletins. 

According to a University of Edinburgh news release in 2005:

Mark Siljander served for three terms as a Member of the United States Congress, where he served on the International Relations Middle East and Africa Subcommittees. He was the primary sponsor of the African Famine Relief Act and later appointed by President Reagan as a US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Ambassador Siljander is a student of several languages, including Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and has spent over ten years studying the Scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

These experiences have led him to develop what he describes as “a unique paradigm for the peaceful resolution of conflict that has been successfully applied in several challenging areas of the globe”.

In 1996 he received the 1996 Mohandas K. Gandhi International Peace Award, for “…recognition of his courageous statesmanship in international reconciliation.”

Maybe he has a mood disorder.  Eventually the truth will come out.  But it may be a while.

oil companies compete for gasfield in sunni heartland: will it be robbery?

January 9, 2008

Shell and Total square up over gasfield in Iraq’s Sunni heartland

Shell and Total are vying to develop a huge gasfield in what was Iraq’s most violent province as a source for exports to Europe.

The Iraqi Government held talks with a number of potential companies last week regarding development of the Akkas field in Anbar province, northwest of Baghdad.

Akkas, close to the border with Syria, is thought to contain up to seven trillion cubic feet of gas – up to 6 per cent of Iraq’s estimated total of 112 trillion cubic feet. The field is capable of producing up to 50 million cubic feet a day, but this could be raised to 450 million cubic feet per day if developed further.

The Iraqi Government is keen to get the field operational as quickly as possible, using nearby Syria as an export route to Europe to restore revenues. A statement from Shell said that the Iraqi Oil Ministry had asked Shell to undertake “a long-term production test”.  Total was unavailable for comment, but is also understood to be interested.

In the longer term, both Western oil giants hope to win an equity stake in the project, which would also provide a toehold for further long-term exploration and development in Iraq, which has the world’s third-largest oil reserves.

The development of Akkas could mark a turning point in the fortunes of Iraq’s oil industry. Anbar is dominated by Sunni tribal groups who were fiercely opposed to the 2003 United States-led invasion. Until recently, it was the scene of some of Iraq’s most intense violence, including inter-factional fighting and attacks on US and Iraqi government troops. Since last summer the security situation has improved and that has encouraged the oil giants to look again at the area, which includes the country’s western deserts. Akkas is 40km from the Syrian border and is close to existing government-owned facilities in Syria. Shell has been active in Syria for 25 years and operates a joint venture with the Syrian Government and Chinese and Indian partners.

It is not yet clear whether the Iraqi Government will pick a Western oil major, such as Shell or Total, to help to develop the field. It may opt, instead, for a partnership with an oil services company, such as Halliburton or Schlumberger, which would then supply the technical expertise to develop the field and related pipelines to Syria for processing and export.

Last month, Ahmad al-Shammaa, Iraq’s Deputy Oil Minister, said that the Government had been hoping to issue a first round of tenders for a number of oilfields early this year.

They are expected to concentrate on the redevelopment of Akkas, as well as other fields such as Rumeila South, Rumeila North, Subba/Luhais, Zubair and Missan in southern Iraq, and Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

Before the effort to depose Saddam Hussein, Iraq signed a preliminary agreement with Syria to supply it with 50 million cubic feet of gas a day from the Akkas gasfield. The Syrians are eager to revive this agreement.

The development of the Akkas field could yet be bogged down by political concerns. The Iraqi Government has not yet passed a long-awaited hydrocarbon law that would determine how oil and gas revenues are distributed.

Slow progress has been made so far because of a dispute with the Kurdish autonomous region over its right to develop Northern Iraqi oilfields without supplying proceeds to the central government in Baghdad.

Another poster points out that Juan Cole @ Informed Comment provides the following tidbit:

Shell and Total are competing for rights to develop the Akkas natural gas field in al-Anbar Province near the Syrian border. But without a law on the sharing of oil and gas revenues, this foreign involvement is going to look like bank robbery.