Reidar Visser has a new report up on his blog, that summarizes the latest revelations about Galbraith and Kurdish oil made in today’s Dagens Næringsliv, from Oslo.
DN (and from them, Reidar) have reproduced a document attesting that the Connecticut-registered company in which Galbraith has, I believe, a half-share did indeed have a 5% interest in the production-sharing agreement for Kurdistan’s new Tawke oil field.
The Boston Globe has a version of the Galbraith story today, too.
They have a quote there from Juan Cole, even though he hasn’t blogged anything about the Galbraith affair. (Unlike yours truly.)
They also, more importantly, have a quote from Galbraith himself, in which he says,
- “The business interest, including my investment into Kurdistan, was consistent with my political views… These were all things that I was promoting, and in fact, have brought considerable benefit to the people of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan oil industry, and also to shareholders.’’
The Globe reporter, Farah Stockman, then immediately makes this somewhat strange comment:
- It is not illegal or unheard of for former US officials to do business with people they worked with during their time in government. But ethical questions often arise when such dealings become public.
It is, of course, illegal for people who are currently in government jobs to engage in business affairs that might in any way be affected by the decisions they make in an official capacity; and in the US there are well-known regulations regarding how long a person must be out of office before s/he can engage in such business affairs. This is basic to the integrity of government functioning, anywhere.
In 2003-05, when Galbraith was rushing round Iraq and the world arguing passionately for a radical form of Kurdish separation from the central Iraqi state, he was not in fact on the US government payroll. He had been, in late 2002, when he taught at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. But in the 2003-05 period, he was presenting himself as (a) a constitutional affairs specialist, and (b) an adviser to the Kurdish leaders, who was providing his advice to them on a contract or sometimes even “expenses-only” basis because of the depth of his commitment to their cause.
In all the articles he published in the US media in and since those years, arguing for the radical devolution of Iraqi governmental powers to the country’s various ethno-sectarian groups (including the Kurds), not once do I recall having seen it say in the tag-line that he had business interests related to the topics he was writing about.
All those editors just took him at his word when he claimed to be this idealistic, quite disinterested “expert.” He was everyone’s favorite liberal hawk.
Stockman also has this about Galbraith:
- Galbraith said yesterday his role in the [Iraqi] constitutional negotiations was unpaid and informal, and therefore he was under no obligation to disclose his business interests to the US or Iraqi governments. He also said confidentiality agreements prevented him from publicly disclosing details of the business.
Galbraith is, of course, far from the only well-placed US citizen who sought to make some fast money from all the “business opportunities” that the US occupation of Iraq opened up to them. But he seems to have realized that the extremely scuzzy nature of this deal would not look good if held up to the light of day. I’m assuming that it was him, himself, whom the “confidentiality agreements” in question were designed to protect.
Anyway, he should now be asked to abrogate those agreements and come quite clean. I mean, Peter Galbraith does believe in good government, doesn’t he?