Zalmay Khalilzad on Federalism and the New Iraqi Oil Law:

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to Iraq, presents an optimistic take on the new Iraqi draft oil law in this Washington Post op ed.

Here is his summary of the law's benefits:

· [The draft law] Reaffirms that oil and gas resources are owned by all the people of Iraq and contains a firm commitment to revenue-sharing among regions and provinces on the basis of population.

· Establishes a predictable framework and processes for federal-regional cooperation that demonstrate the government's commitment to democracy and federalism.

· Creates a principal policymaking body for energy -- the Federal Council on Oil and Gas -- that will have representatives from all of Iraq's regions and oil-producing provinces.

· Ensures that all revenue from oil sales will go into a single national account and that provinces will receive direct shares of revenue, thereby significantly increasing local control of financial resources.

· Establishes international standards for transparency and mandates public disclosure of contracts and associated revenue and payments. This is essential to build confidence in the new political order and to counter corruption.

As I explained in my post on the oil deal, I have several major reservations about it, and am therefore not as optimistic as Khalilzad is. Moreover, Khalilzad's official position probably precludes him from publicly expressing any reservations he might have. Nonetheless, I do agree that the law is an important step forward relative to the status quo.

Former Governor of Wisconsin and potential Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson spoke recently at Marquette Law school. He favored a three-way split of oil revenue- 1/3 to the central government, 1/3 split among the provincial/state governments, and the remaining 1/3 to "every man, woman and child."

I prefer that approach because it gives the people an incentive to keep their government honest and also encourages them to invest in expanding oil production
3.4.2007 6:32pm
AntonK (mail):
Remember the study released last year by British medical journal The Lancet that ludicrously claimed more than 650,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Iraq War? The study that was seized upon by "anti-war" groups, and is now cited as fact and repeated endlessly in the propaganda from International ANSWER, CODEPINK, Stop the War Coalition and every other loony left organization on the planet?

Now, a damning peer review has come to the conclusion that the Lancet's study has "no scientific standing"—and may in fact be fraudulent.

Well, knock me over with a feather.

Could 650,000 Iraqis really have died because of the invasion?

One critic is Professor Michael Spagat, a statistician from Royal Holloway College, University of London. He and colleagues at Oxford University point to the possibility of "main street bias" -- that people living near major thoroughfares are more at risk from car bombs and other urban menaces. Thus, the figures arrived at were likely to exceed the true number. The Lancet study authors initially told The Times that "there was no main street bias" and later amended their reply to "no evidence of a main street bias".

Professor Spagat says the Lancet paper contains misrepresentations of mortality figures suggested by other organisations, an inaccurate graph, the use of the word "casualties" to mean deaths rather than deaths plus injuries, and the perplexing finding that child deaths have fallen. Using the "three-to-one rule" -- the idea that for every death, there are three injuries -- there should be close to two million Iraqis seeking hospital treatment, which does not tally with hospital reports.

"The authors ignore contrary evidence, cherry-pick and manipulate supporting evidence and evade inconvenient questions," contends Professor Spagat, who believes the paper was poorly reviewed. "They published a sampling methodology that can overestimate deaths by a wide margin but respond to criticism by claiming that they did not actually follow the procedures that they stated." The paper had "no scientific standing". Did he rule out the possibility of fraud? "No."

If you factor in politics, the heat increases. One of the Lancet authors, Dr Les Roberts, campaigned for a Democrat seat in the US House of Representatives and has spoken out against the war. Dr Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet is also antiwar.
3.4.2007 7:26pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, Anton, some of those criticisms were made some time ago and answered. But I think I would leave it with Spagat's finding that the Lancet death rate was "two times" too high. So maybe the number is only 325,000.
3.4.2007 8:57pm
Loki13 (mail):
I won the pool!

I had the over/under for a completely ontuse off-topic post about Iraq from some partisan at 5 posts.... and AntonK swoops in at post #2..... YES!

Back to the topic at hand, it sounds great. I've heard many things that sound great come from Iraq. But rules are good only if they're enforced. The situation there is no longer within our ability to control, and barely within our ability to moderate. Once Iraq has the ability to govern, then plans like this become useful.

Until then, this is as speculative as property rights on the moon.
3.4.2007 9:24pm
TM Lutas (mail) (www):
I'm still waiting for anybody to come up with a reason why individual oil sharing couldn't be done on a provincial basis with provinces "bidding" for population inflows that increase their slice of the pie. Would 1% do it? how about 5%? Is there any supply side "sweet spot" where the cost of individual checks is outweighed by the additional portion of the population that moves in?

Inquiring minds want to know...
3.4.2007 9:44pm
Mark F. (mail):
Ilya, Ilya, you really need to take pro-Bush politicians with a few grains of salt.

Khalilzad points out that Iraq's oil will be controlled the iron fist of a "central body called the Federal Oil and Gas Council" which will have "a panel of oil experts from inside and outside Iraq."

He left out the fact that some of these "oil experts" will in fact be executives and representatives of American and other Western oil companies.

In other words, the Bush-backing oil barons will now have an official stranglehold on the oil of Iraq.
3.5.2007 12:38am