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This tepid statement in Newsweek by Barack Obama, the supposed Hope of 2008, casting doubt that the Democrats can (will?) do anything about the coming Iraq escalation, is "discouraging," as Matt Stoller of MyDD understatedly puts it :
Before Barack Obama was a senator, he opposed the war in Iraq. Now that he is one, he says that sending more troops would be "a mistake that compounds the president's original mistake." But don't expect Obama--or most other Dems--to try to block George W. Bush when he asks Congress in the coming weeks for another billion-dollar bundle for the war. The party won't deny the funds, and may not even try to attach conditions to them. Obama made that clear last week when I saw him in his office, a sunny space filled with portraits of Thurgood Marshall, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi and Muhammad Ali. "To anticipate your question," said the Harvard-trained lawyer, "is Congress going to be willing to exercise its control over the purse strings to affect White House policy? I am doubtful that that is something we are willing to do in the first year."We need to call Obama's office and remind him that people outside Washington DC do not support the war. One reason to be discouraged is it does indeed, appear to be "all about the oil," according to this article in the The Independent:
Even as they decried the "surge" and declared that it is "time to bring the war to a close," Democrats offered reasons for staying out of Bush's way. Obama took the safest ground. "I cannot in good conscience," he said, "cut off funding for our troops that are already there." He and others will insist that future requests be included in the regular budget. Sen. Joe Biden, whose Foreign Relations Committee will launch hearings on the war this week, said that Congress's role is simply too limited to be effective. "It's all about the separation of powers," he said. Last month he told Bush: "This is your war, Mr. President, and there's nothing we can do to stop you."
Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.Yet the companies still have to find a way to extract the oil without getting their employees killed. Recall that Bechtel recently decided to pull out of Iraq after losing 52 people on the payroll. Bush's pathetic plans for escalation aren't enough, he's just hoping and praying it will work, while cowardly legislators such as Obama go along with him.
The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.
The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.
Oil industry executives and analysts say the law, which would permit Western companies to pocket up to three-quarters of profits in the early years, is the only way to get Iraq's oil industry back on its feet after years of sanctions, war and loss of expertise. But it will operate through "production-sharing agreements" (or PSAs) which are highly unusual in the Middle East, where the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the world's two largest producers, is state controlled.