Friday, April 28, 2006

Iraq I: A Bridge Too Far

Tigris Pipeline Crossing: Three years on and still no oil (*)
For the most part, we're going to keep our powder dry here at Kiko's House on the panic in Washington over soaring gasoline prices until we resume bashing King George next week. But with idiotic solutions like giving every driver $100 to help offset higher costs at the pump, you can be sure that the likelihood of anything positive coming out of the frenzy is zero to none.

Ditto for Iraq.

Remember how those invading Americans were going to dust off all those flowers that welcoming Iraqis threw at them and hunker down to the business of getting the country back on its feet?

The key to this effort was repairing Iraq's decrepit oil refining infrastructure in order to generate big bucks for a new Iraqi government. This also would mean that a gadzillion barrels of crude could be shipped to the thirsty U.S, which played into the oft-stated but unproven notion that the entire reason for toppling Saddam was oil.

Well, it never happened.

This is in part because many of the billions of dollars that went to Halliburton, Vice President Cheyney's former sinecure, and other firms to do the oil infrastructure rebuilding, were pissed away.

In an especially egregious example of the U.S. promising but not delivering, a Halliburton subsidiary was paid $100,000 a day to repair a major pipeline crossing (see photo) at a bridge over the Tigris River that three years later is still in its bombed out state, according to a depressing New York Times investigative piece by James Glanz.

This is no small thing because the 15-pipeline crossing had been the main link between Iraq's rich northern oil fields and export terminals and refineries.


Back in Washington, Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, appeared at a White House briefing to tout You Know Who's energy plan.

Hubbard could cite to the teaspoon the amount of oil that would have been pumped from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if Congress didn't keep rejecting calls to open the environmentally fragile area to drilling. But -- and I know this will come as a shock -- he said he had no idea how much oil would have been pumped from those Iraqi fields had the U.S. delivered on its promises.

His response:
I'll have to get back to you on that.
Right, Al. Right.

(*) Photo by Christoph Bangert/Polaris, for The New York Times

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