Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Inauspicious

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  • Simon Grigg,

    James,
    the problem with your logic on the PSAs is twofold:

    Firsly these are not, as far as I can see, being negotiated by equal partners, the terms are being, and have been determined behind closed doors, in secrecy by firstly the CPA, and now the executive level of the Iraqi government under US direction. Since the terms being negotiated seemingly are outside the norm, the lack of transparency is a real problem.

    Secondly, the return to the Iraqi people comes from the net revenues of the PSAs. As the people of East Timor have found out when dealing with Australian Energy companies, the percentage of a net return is not always what it seems.
    Especially when 75% of that net return is being raked off to cover capital expenditure negotiated behind closed doors.

    Your optimism and benign attitude towards these deals, and these companies is noted but I'm afraid I'm having trouble agreeing with you.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Simon,
    So you think it is perfectly fine for Iran to support Shia death squads?

    no I don't but I do think its worth pointing out that all available evidence is that many of these death squads exist inside the security apparatus bankrolled and supported by the US government. Secondly, we have no evidence they are actively "supporting" death squads as such, beyond right wing US sources claiming such. What we do know is that they are supporting certain power blocs in Iraq, and its reasonable to assume that certain of those power blocs, in particular the one that is a major player in the current government has contributed majorly to the bloodshed and the like in Iraq.

    In one of the great ironies of this mess, Iran is probably supporting many of the same groups that the US is arming.

    But the singularly most destablising group in Iraq over the past four years has to be the United States, whose contribution to this quagmire dwarfs Iran's. Ironically they are also the most unifying....the one thing that both Sunnis and Shi'ites groups seem to have in common is that they all despise you....its hard to get past that simple fact but it still hasn't sunk in stateside.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    With the PSAs and the oil in mind, today's editorial in The Independent is a worthy read

    The Iranian revolution was the bitter harvest of a previous generation's oil greed in the Middle East. It would be to heap a further tragedy on Iraq if, in a country where the appearance of things can be as important as how they really are, the perception was to grow yet further that it was American greed that took the country to war. The importance of reflecting honourable intentions towards the Iraqi people is all the more important in a week when, in the teeth of a new Democrat-controlled Congress, President Bush is expected to announce a "surge" of 20,000 troops to "secure" Baghdad. After spending the Christmas break reflecting on Iraq policy, the President seems to have chosen what his obstinate character always suggested: to ignore the conventional wisdom and dig the hole in which Iraq policy is mired ever deeper.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Simon,
    Most deals are negotiated behind closed doors. No surprises there, or there shouldn't be.

    The terms of these deals were always going to become public knowledge at some stage, as they apparently have now. Any deal that sticks it to the Iraqis would cause a hell of a stink, as it should. If you are in the US govt or Exxon Mobil why on earth would you do that to youself? It makes no sense at all.

    75% is being raked off only until capital costs are covered. As far as those captial cost are concerned, see previous point.

    Exxon et al will make good money, as they should for the risk that they are taking. Iraq will get tonnes of money, as they should too, it is their oil. These deals should be looked at as a source of hope for the future of Iraq, not some dark source of evil.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    If US money is ending up supporting shite militias, it sure as hell is not the intention, unlike Iran.

    As for stability. I dont think many Iraqis want to go back to the "stability" of Hussein's hellish regime. Disrupting that stability was a good, humane thing to do.

    Denying or playing down Iran's role in the problems in Iraq ia a copout. Without the activities of the external parties, Al Qeada and Iran, Iraq would be much further along it path to a stable functioning society.

    As for now, there is nothing the US would like to do more than create some stabilty and go home.

    As for Iraqis wanting the US to leave, according to polls they want the US to leave after some stability has been achieved. Americans want that as much as Iraqis do.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    James, you miss the point...the lack of transparency on those deals calls into question how the magical 75% figure is applied...and thats just for starts.

    You seem to have more faith in the "seven sisters" than most of us and I hope you are right, but the way similar deals have been applied in the past give one little faith, especially, as we write, in Indonesia and East Timor where the 80/20 split to Timor Leste looks fine but doesn't bear any scrutiny and certainly the poverty levels in the world's poorest nation indicate that the defined 80% may well be less than 80% of 100%. Profit sharing is the easiest way in the world to screw down the return. Defining the net is the key and when the net is defined by unequal partners behind closed doors....and hiding and inflating costs, as per the above named states, in the gross is the key

    There is a reason no other country in the middle east has bought into these PSAs. And if you don't think these deals are going to resound badly with the people of Iraq who are already less than positively opined towards your nation, then I suggest you are not looking closely enough. You really don't think they are blaming Iran for the mess, do you?

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    The Independent editorial is absolutely correct in part. The bit about the importance of honourable intentions of the US and the oil companies is absolutely correct. Unreasonable contracts would be a disaster of enormous proportions. Fortunately, based on the numbers and terms cited in the other Independent article, this does not appear to be the case.

    The editorial is wrong with the implication that the US in trying to secure some control and reduce the mayhem in Baghdad is making the wrong decision. Iraq can't progress while Baghdad is out of control and the Iraqis can't seem to get it under control themselves, so what choice is there? The other option, withdrawal would leave a vacumn that would be filled by untold carnage. It is not a serious option. The Iraqi govt and Iraqis don't want an immediate withdrawal. Iran would love it.

    What is it about too many people around the world and the international left that prevent them from seeing the obvious? That the last thing that US and the Bush administration wanted almost 4 years after OIF is still to have so many troop in Iraq and to have car bombs and what amounts to ethnic cleansing going on? But to walk out before the job is done would be a truly shameful thing to do.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Iraq needs the oil in a hurry to fund its development. It doesn't have the time to develop a national oil company to do it all itself, that takes many, many years to build the skills and competencies. Wasting time taking that path really would be screwing the Iraqi people. Even in a national oil company structure, you would still need a lot of outside expertise and capital and probably end up with a contract structure that achieves the same result

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    May be the Dems are not such a bunch of naive patsies after all!!

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467674368&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    As for Iraqis wanting the US to leave, according to polls they want the US to leave after some stability has been achieved. Americans want that as much as Iraqis do.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/09/27/iraqis-poll/

    – More broadly, 79 percent of Iraqis say that the US is having a negative influence on the situation in Iraq, with just 14 percent saying that it is having a positive influence.

    – Asked “If the US made a commitment to withdraw from Iraq according to a timeline, do you think this would strengthen the Iraqi government, weaken it, or have no effect either way?” 53 percent said that it would strengthen the government, while just 24 percent said it would weaken the government.

    – Asked what effect it would have “if US-led forces withdraw from Iraq in the next six months,” 58 percent overall say that violence would decrease (35% a lot, 23% a little).

    I note that the budget requests for the permanent bases and the massive embassy are still in there... I don't think Bush has any desire to get out of there anytime soon despite the public narrative.....history tells us that the truth and GWB are mutually exclusive zones...

    And seriously...you don't think the US military knows that the death squads are coming out of the Security apparatus as armed by themselves...I know their intelligence is bad, but surely its not THAT bad...

    Saddam's Iraq was bad but its all relative...its absolutely terrible now courtesy of you lot...so which terrible is better...hundreds of thousands died under Saddam...hundreds of thousands have died just as brutally under the US occupation (and you can't just throw your hands up and blame Iran or Syria or Al Qaeda, the US opened the doors to the current violence and the buck has to stop in Washington)....I'm having trouble seeing one as better than the other. Saddam's death squads or your Iraqi government's death squads. Currently some 14,000 are sitting in US controlled jails without trial, many for years...which is better...

    Clearly, the majority of those surveyed above think that what is better is that the coalition undertakes an orderly withdrawal as soon as possible. They won't though will they.....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Hmmm...if I the funds were needed so quickly why have profits been funneled of to cover gulf war I costs whilst Iraqis had no fuel or why were Iraqis not allowed to tender for redevelopment contracts which were awarded US firms.

    Much of the expertise you talk of is already there. Or across the near borders. Iraq has and had oil expertise the equal of anything else in the world. Even under Saddam last years they still maintained that pool of expertise. Its infrastructure that's needed. You forget they have developed and exploited their resources for decades.

    And what in god's name is the "international left"???? Does it have an office??

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Today in Iraq . . .

    * 30 dead in central Baghdad clash between Iraqi Army and gunmen following reports that Sunnis had set up fake checkpoint where they were detaining Shiites, shooting them, and hanging their bodies from lampposts;

    * 27 bodies were dumped behind a hospital in Baghdad;

    * 72 bodies were recovered around Baghdad on Saturday, most showing signs of torture.

    I guess pretty much the same stuff is happening in New Orleans . . .

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    A question to consider: If a discussion ends up being two people making long posts to each other, should it, as a courtesy, go to private email instead of being in the general discussion.

    On the other hand, there may be people who want to read such discussions.

    It's just that earlier I wanted to write something light about the Listener, but it feels awkward to butt into the midst of a big, long, heavy discussion about Iraq.

    Maybe there needs to be threading.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Hamboy,

    And does the "International Left" have any vacancies?
    I need a job.

    Hmmm, Iraqis are going to be in charge of their own resources?
    With permanent US bases in the middle of their country?
    What if they introduce such Anti-American policies as Venezuela has or what Iran did in the 50s.
    The would have a regime change faster than you could say, "Shar of Iran".
    My original comment still stands, not even the current US adminstration is stupid enough to hand back total control of a resource that is so important.
    Almost as stupid as Saddam Hussein giving an WMD to a terrorist group that had called for his over throw.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    The International Left is a vast global conspiracy to convert the world to a totalitarian world government controlled by a small oligarchy. This oligarchy intend to rule all humanity with an iron fist masked by a seemingly benevolent 'Nanny' state.

    The women & men behind this have the sole object of ridding the entire globe of right handed cork screws, screwdrivers, coffee mugs and rulers.

    For too long the Lefties of the world have suffered under the brutal rule of the Right majority - anyone Left hander half cut at a dinner party where there are only right handed cork screws knows exactly what I mean - and soon they will rise up and revolt against tyranny of a Right handed world.

    So if you're left handed I'm sure the International Left will have some form of employment for you - the Revolucion always needs a ahem... helping hand. If you're a Righty then strap on your steak helmet and prepare for a future of servitude and humiliation. My suggestion is to learn how to ambidextrous, then you may find work as a Left-Right interpreter - the evil Lefty robot overlords will need someone to communicate orders to the urban Righty proles.

    NB: The term 'pinko-lefto' actually refers to the tragic history of left-handed Catholic school children being beaten with rulers on their left hand every time they tried to write with that hand.

    In answer to your question Robyn, there is definitely no place for light relief on this thread.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    BTW: Pump it Hottie was huge in the Blue Light disco scene in Waipukurau, Hawkes Bay during the summer love 1989.

    My personal fave homeboy was Tone Loc though - there has never been a better hiphop remix/cover than his classic take on 'Wild Thing'.

    What say you?

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    A question to consider: If a discussion ends up being two people making long posts to each other, should it, as a courtesy, go to private email instead of being in the general discussion.
    On the other hand, there may be people who want to read such discussions.

    I have been reading James and Simon's discussion with interest. The quality and tone of the discussion is fantastic.

    Manakura's post was probably the best one...

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    81stcolumn:

    The self help thing really doesn’t bother me. The self help thing with no sensible evidence to support it bothers me somewhat. The self help thing with no evidence being adopted by teachers and policy makers - makes me want to rant a lot and use the c word. It upsets me most because it highlights a failure of education and the triumph of marketing. I’m sure this will sound like a an oft repeated bleat but the “dumbing down” of higher education and the desire for more “vocational content” comes at the expense of teaching people how to obtain, evaluate and use evidence (research).

    The obtain-evaluate-use paradigm is particularly important in an age when the Internet brings us a huge amount of information of hugely variable quality.

    Ironically, when those skills are built into an NCEA curriculum, in place of rote leaning, some people complain that's dumbing down ...

    So my view is similar to yours, but with the authority of a masthead in mind. From what I can tell, Jensen's stuff is a grab-bag of things that might well be true, things that simply are not, and points in between. The linked review readily acknowledges that he has some fresh ideas for the classroom. But overall ... It's. Just. Not. Science.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    The obtain-evaluate-use paradigm is particularly important in an age when the Internet brings us a huge amount of information of hugely variable quality.

    Ironically, when those skills are built into an NCEA curriculum, in place of rote leaning, some people complain that's dumbing down ...

    Not that I know much about how NCEA actually (dis)functions, (despite the fact I have readily devoured every printed word I came across on the whole saga - as a Listener subscriber that is just more evidence of that rags fading glory) but if it's moving away from teaching people how to find, collate and critically analyse information then that is seriously ill.

    Agreed with RB, we're all constantly bombarded with information from every and any source imaginable and not teaching kids how to engage with it and critique is quite mad.

    Further, it doesn't line up with the direction higher education is heading in. The entire tertiary sector is being moved ever further to the production of high quality research. The old bums on seats EFTS funding model is being phased out in favour of the PBRF (Performance Based Research Funding) that places a premium on research and publication in the allocation of putea ($$) from the public purse.

    I have on occassion tutored a practical material culture paper - i.e. teaching peeps how to weave - and even in this paper its 50/50 research vs. doing fun stuff with your hands. (That's a false division, btw, between doing and thinking - both can be research, obviously.)

    Clearly the Knowledge Wave broke before it could reach primary and secondary education.

    What an incredibly boring post.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Manakura's post was probably the best one...

    Aww shucks, thanks... are you left or right handed. If its the latter I hear the Destiny Church runs a right hand de-programming workshop. Their motto is love the person, hate the hand.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    There's still useful and interesting stuff in the Listener, but I find that their cover articles are more and more targeted at middle-aged, middle-class, middle-NZers with a mortgage and kids. I do not personally give a monkey's about house prices, cosmetic surgery or the NCEA. Some of the reviews and columnists are still a good read, though, and I'm not exactly going to buy the TV Guide or whatever it is.

    There must be a market out there for an intelligent, leftish national mag that's not exlcusively gunning for the Peter Dunne demographic. Surely?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    If its the latter I hear the Destiny Church runs a right hand de-programming workshop. Their motto is love the person, hate the hand.

    ...in direct literal adherence to Matthew 5:30.
    "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (NIV)

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    A question to consider: If a discussion ends up being two people making long posts to each other, should it, as a courtesy, go to private email instead of being in the general discussion.

    the thought occurred but once you start typing things tend to have a life of their own...apologies...

    And instinctively I knew that they key comment on the thread, from Manakura, was yet to come.

    But, yes, threading and editing would be a mighty thing.....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Great article by a liberal commentator on the silliness of the response of liberal critics to Saddams untidy execution. Talk about missing the wood for the trees.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/01072007/postopinion/opedcolumnists/hanging_hysteria_opedcolumnists_kirsten_powers.htm?page=0

    I do go off on long posts, apologies to anyone who was bothered. But hey, that is one of the great things about this type of forum, if you don't want to read a post (or posts), just skip ahead to one you do!!

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    And instinctively I knew that they key comment on the thread, from Manakura, was yet to come.

    I'm humbled to be in the company of peeps that recognise the greatness of Tone Loc. That was the key post you were referring to right?

    Tom, how can you not give a rats posterior about NCEA? Its the kiddies education they're messing with! Its well known that I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way... which brings us to Whitney Houston, who was married to a (an albeit musically inferior) contemporary of Tone Loc's.

    Simon you're right, Tone Loc is the key!

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

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