Panelists recommend US post-conflict policy in Iraq

If US-led forces remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, then the administration of President George W. Bush must make it clear to the world the US has no desire to become the de facto ruler of Iraq.

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Dec. 19 -- If US-led forces remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, then the administration of President George W. Bush must make it clear to the world that the US has no desire to become the de facto ruler of Iraq or its oil reserves, an independent panel concluded.

The Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University—named for former US Sec. of State James Baker, who served former President George H. W. Bush—sponsored the panel, which also included representatives from Cambridge Energy Research Associates and the Washington-based Petroleum Finance Corp.

In a report issued Dec. 19, the panel introduced an "intellectual road map" to help Bush promote reconstruction in Iraq in case of war there. The panel calls for the appointment of a "Coordinator for Iraq" to oversee a three-phased strategy in the areas of security, economics, and governance.

Recommendations
The report identified a set of principles to guide US oil policy:

-- Iraqis should maintain control of their own oil sector.

-- A significant portion of early proceeds should be spent on the rehabilitation of the oil industry.

-- A level playing field should be established for all international oil companies.

-- Any proceeds are shared fairly by all Iraqi citizens.

"The panel asserts that US efforts must be accompanied by a vigorous public diplomacy campaign in the Middle East and the Muslim world to deflate criticism in the region and deny terrorists and extremists the ability to use military action to their own political advantage," a summary of the report said.

The report urged the administration to resist establishing a provisional government in advance of hostilities and cautioned against imposing a post-conflict government dominated by exiled Iraqi opposition leaders.


Oil infrastructure
Iraq's oil infrastructure already has been damaged by war with neighboring Iran and by a war with a US-led United Nations coalition. Currently, the US has vowed to take military action against Iraq if it is found in violation of UN agreements regarding weapons of mass destruction.

Oil production capacity in Iraq is dropping by 100,000 b/d annually, the report said, adding that it could take as long as 3 years and cost $5 billion to bring the Iraqi oil industry back to pre-1990s production levels of 3.5 million b/d.

"To get to the oft-quoted 6 million b/d will take years and require massive expansion of infrastructure, billions of dollars in investment, and a stable political environment. War and its aftermath could further limit, not increase, Iraq's oil production," the panel reported.

The full report can be found at www.bakerinstitute.org.

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