How many lives is a $100 million oil lease worth? That’s the question someone needs to ask Ambassador Peter Galbraith. Peter Galbraith was a ‘liberal’ hawk who advocated the invasion of Iraq, and then argued that the U.S. should maintain a strong presence in Iraq. During the Bush Administration, he was an advocate for and architect of Iraq’s federalist system that ceded significant autonomy to the Kurds.
And that’s where it gets sleazy (italics mine):
Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.
In the constitutional negotiations, he helped the Kurds ram through provisions that gave their region — rather than the central Baghdad government — sole authority over many of their internal affairs, including clauses that he maintains will give the Kurds virtually complete control over all new oil finds on their territory.
Mr. Galbraith, widely viewed in Washington as a smart and bold foreign policy expert, has always described himself as an unpaid adviser to the Kurds, although he has spoken in general terms about having business interests in Kurdistan, as the north of Iraq is known….
As it turns out, Mr. Galbraith received the rights after he helped negotiate a potentially lucrative contract that allowed the Norwegian oil company DNO to drill for oil in the promising Dohuk region of Kurdistan, the interviews and documents show.
He says his actions were proper because he was at the time a private citizen deeply involved in Kurdish causes, both in business and policy.
When drillers struck oil in a rich new field called Tawke in December 2005, no one but a handful of government and business officials and members of Mr. Galbraith’s inner circle knew that the constitutional provisions he had pushed through only months earlier could enrich him so handsomely.
Galbraith’s excuse? It’s as old as corruption itself:
“So, while I may have had interests, I see no conflict.”
Peter Galbraith is a pale shadow of his father, John Kenneth Galbraith, who, even if you didn’t agree with him, dedicated much of his life to public service–and did not buckrake using the blood of his fellow citizens. And this could be explosive–although maybe that’s what it takes to get us the hell out of there:
Some officials say that his financial ties could raise serious questions about the integrity of the constitutional negotiations themselves. “The idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless,” said Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi, a principal drafter of the law that governed Iraq after the United States ceded control to an Iraqi government on June 28, 2004.
In effect, he said, the company “has a representative in the room, drafting.”
…Referring to the Constitution negotiations, Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani, vice chairman of the oil and gas committee in the Iraqi Parliament, said that Mr. Galbraith’s “interference was not justified, illegal and not right, particularly because he is involved in a company where his financial interests have been merged with the political interest.”
It turns out that we Dirty Fucking Hippies were right after all.
And it tastes like ashes in my mouth.