As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the biggest foreign policy blunder in American history, Sen. Carl Levin has reminded us of just one of the false predictions the Bush administration made to get the American people to buy into this farce.
That's the one about how Iraqis would pay for their nation's invasion, occupation, and reconstruction themselves, with their oil revenue.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told a House subcommittee just ten days into the war that "there's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. And it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people …the oil revenues of that county could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years…. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."
As we see the cost of this foolish war mount into the trillions, we may have forgotten that rosy prediction.
But Levin hasn't.
Levin wants to know why, with the Iraqi government pulling in more than $100 billion in oil revenues during last year and this year, the U.S. taxpayers are still getting stuck with the bill for rebuilding Iraq.
In an email sent Tuesday (March 18, 2008), Levin repeated Wolfowitz's testimony and noted that the Iraqi government is producing millions of barrels of oil a day. With prices per barrel in the $100-range, the Iraqi government has built a large surplus from oil sales, amounting to as much as $30 billion just in U.S. banks. That money should be spent on Iraq's reconstruction so that American dollars can be spent at home, Levin argued.
Levin and Republican Senator John Warner cosigned a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking for a review of Iraqi oil revenues and reconstruction spending.
"We want to know just how much money the Iraqi government has actually contributed to reducing the violence and rebuilding the country - and how much they have sitting unused in international banks," Levin said in his email.
"The American people have paid an enormous price to attempt to secure and to start to rebuild Iraq. It's long past time for the Iraqi government to use its oil revenues to support these efforts."
Amen to that.