Back for the attack

What? Something go on while I was away? Ah well, whatever it was, I daresay it wasn’t important. In any case, here’s a prediction … what with folks here and there talking about the distribution of the Iraqi oil rents1 “to the people”, it won’t be long before somebody suggests that an even better wheeze would be to allow these oil rent shares to be tradeable, in order to accelerate the benefits of a market economy and the development of a “Western style equity culture”. In other words, it can’t be long before some bright spark not necessarily attached to the Harvard Institute suggests a voucher privatisation program for the Iraqi oilfields, with predictable consequences (see D2D passim)

1You can tell that this sort of proposal is either disingenuous or half-baked, by the way, because all the people talking about it talk about “the state’s oil profits” as if it were some technological constant fixed by the state of nature, rather than the whole bloody subject of negotiation; the proportion of Iraqi oil production which will be allocated to the Iraqi government rather than given up under contracts. Before yakking about “Alaskan solutions”, anyone who gives a fig for the Iraqi people ought to be talking in strict terms about ensuring that the Iraqi successor state will be given full property rights over the oil located under its soil (including the oil which the Kuwaitis were so notoriously eager to slant-drill), and that this successor government will have full rights to auction off or dispose of its mineral extraction rights in any way it chooses (including, for example, flogging the lot to the French and Russians) at market rates. Particularly, everyone ought to be on the lookout for obvious conflicts of interest on the part of anyone involved in the transititional administration; as a matter of principle, any military government administered by the US, UK or even UN ought not to have the power to make long-term contracts with respect to the oil.


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