Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Iraqi Oil and Getting Reagan Right

Power Line has two very worthwhile pieces up today. The first concerns the transfer of control of the oil industry in Iraq to total Iraqi control. It wasn't too long ago, you'll recall, that we were being pepper sprayed with accusations that the war was all about control of the oil wealth of Iraq. Bush went into Iraq, we were repeatedly told, at the behest of his friends in the oil industry. "No blood for oil!" the war protestors shouted. Now it seems that the Bush administration has once again quietly done precisely what it said it was going to do from the beginning and handed control of the industry over to the Iraqi interim governing council.

Let's see how long it takes before those who were quick to impugn the administration's motives a year ago come forward with their apologies. Doubtless, they have it right at Power Line. All those allegations of evil intent will simply be forgotten, as if they never happened, and we'll Move On to the next set of calumnies until those, too, are discredited.

Here's the important stuff about the oil transfer quoted from YahooNews via Power Line:

"Today the most important natural resource has been returned to Iraqis to serve all Iraqis," Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said. "I'm pleased to announce that full sovereignty and full control on oil industry has been handed over to the oil ministry today and to the new Iraqi government as of today."

The announcement came as Allawi and Oil Minister Thamir Ghadbhan toured the al-Doura oil refinery in southern Baghdad. After meeting and shaking hands with the refinery workers, the two ministers thanked oil sector workers. "We are totally now in control, there are no more advisers," Ghadbhan said. "We are running the show, the oil policies will be implemented 100 percent by Iraqis."

Referring to the former regime of Saddam Hussein, Allawi said that "in the past, Iraqi oil was used in building palaces, buying weapons to achieve one person's goals."

The second post at Power Line excerpts Dinesh D'Souza's deconstruction of the liberal critique of Ronald Reagan's presidency, which, distilled to its essence, claims that Reagan was just plain lucky to be in the right place at the right time when the U.S.S.R. collapsed. The fall of the Soviet hegemon was inevitable; Reagan's polcies had nothing to do with it; etc., etc.

D'Souza has this embarrassing bit of history to share on one of the chief proponents of the "lucky" view, historian Arthur Schlesinger:

Writing on Ronald Reagan's achievements in Newsweek, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. notes, "Reagan's admirers contend that his costly re-armament program caused the Soviet collapse. Maybe so; but surely the thing that did in the Russians was that time had proved communism an economic, political and moral disaster."
Funny: Here's Schlesinger in 1982, observing that "Those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse" are "wishful thinkers who are only kidding themselves."

Of course, Schlesinger isn't the only Reagan critic made to look foolish by events. Power Line quotes D'Souza:

Many historians and pundits have refused to credit Ronald Reagan's policies for helping to bring about the Cold War victory, blaming communism's chronic economic problems. Yet, like Scheslinger, they failed to describe it as inevitable while Reagan was actually in office.

In 1982, the learned Sovietologist Seweryn Bialer of Columbia University wrote in Foreign Affairs:"The Soviet Union is not now, nor will it be during the next decade, in the throes of a true systemic crisis, for it boasts enormous unused reserves of political and social stability."

But the genius award undoubtedly goes to Lester Thurow, an MIT economist and well-known author who, as late as 1989, wrote: "Can economic command significantly . . . accelerate the growth process? The remarkable performance of the Soviet Union suggests that it can. . . . Today the Soviet Union is a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States."

Uh, huh. Check out the Power Line commentary. It's good stuff.