fiscal responsibility or petulance?

It's discomforting to see rational people engage in petulant posturing about the UN's role in postwar Iraq. Grim realities suggest otherwise - oil revenues from Iraq won't even cover Iraqi debt, let alone pay for reconstruction.

Just to lay the "oil pays" meme to rest, look at the numbers. Suppose reconstruction costs $100 billion, and only takes 1 year. At $30 a barrel of oil, that amounts to 3 billion barrels (about 8 million barrels per day, or bbl/d). This is equal to Saudi Arabia's current output (and Iraq does not have anywhere near Saudi Arabia's reserves, nor the oil infrastructure to process and refine such a colossal amount of oil even if it did). In addition to the ludicrously cheap and quick estimate of the reconstruction cost and duration above, note that there is also an implicit assumption that every dollar of revenue will go to reconstruction cost, without any middlemen (which as anyone familiar with the oil industry knows, is a laughable assertion).

And of course there is a moral element - namely, forcing Iraq to pay for its own reconstruction through proceeds from sale of its own natural resources.

There's an article in the WaPo which also looks into the role of the UN and draws much the same conclusion. While it's true that the statement "the US can't administer post-war reconstruction without the UN" draws no support from the laws of physics, it certainly is strengthened by the laws of fiscal responsibility.

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