Before the war, we were promised by the Bush administration that Iraqi oil revenues would finance the bulk of their reconstruction. Here’s Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on 3/27/03:
The oil revenues of Iraq could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years”¦We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.
Now we are being told that the oil revenues might not pay for any of the reconstruction – it’s completely up to the Iraqis. Scott McClellan today:
QUESTION: Iraq’s reconstruction costs — how much of that should be paid for by Iraq with its oil revenues?
MCCLELLAN: Well, Iraq’s oil revenues are for the Iraqi people. It is overseen by an Iraqi ministry and all those revenues go to help the Iraqi people.
McClellan later instructs the reporter to look for the National Strategy for Victory In Iraq because it “talks about the oil sector and the progress that’s being made there.” Actually, that document acknowledges “oil production is slightly down from a year ago.”
Maybe it’s appropriate for the United States to finance Iraqi reconstruction, but the administration should have been upfront with the American people from the beginning. U.S. taxpayers have already spent $18 billion on Iraqi reconstruction, with no end in sight.