Sen. Webb on Long-Term Occupation of Iraq

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    Per Jim Webb’s YouTube channel:

    February 3, 2011- At a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) pressed U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James F. Jeffrey and General Lloyd James Austin III, Commander, U.S. Forces-Iraq, for confirmation that the formal commitment of U.S. combat forces will conclude by the end of 2011.

    The response by the U.S. Ambassador was that “we will NOT have permanent bases” in Iraq or use that country to “project power.” To help defend Iraq externally, the plan is to train and equip the Iraqis with main battle tanks, aircraft systems, etc., with our people acting in an “advisory capacity.”

    P.S. Side note to Jim Webb: you continue to say that oil prices are at $100 per barrel in large part because of Iraq. With all due respect, that’s completely – 100% – untrue. In fact, as any oil market analyst will tell you, the rise in world oil prices during the mid-2000’s was driven overwhelmingly by demand growth, combined with a relative lack of OPEC spare capacity and possibly also speculation on the markets. As for Iraqi oil production, that averaged around 2.0 million barrels per day in 2002, fell to 1.3 million barrels per day in 2003, but then quickly rebounded to 2.0 million barrels per day in 2004. In 2008 and 2009, Iraq produced 2.4 million barrels per day, above what it was producing the year before the invasion. Given the rule of thumb that for every 1 million barrels per day taken off the market, we can expect an oil price increase of perhaps $5 per barrel or so, the most you could plausibly say would be that the 1-year Iraqi oil supply disruption of 700,000 barrels per day might have had an effect, for that one year, of about $3.50 per barrel. Other than that, you could argue a counterfactual, that if not for the invasion, Iraqi oil production today would be somewhat higher (a few hundred thousand barrels per day, perhaps?) than it currently is, but it’s basically impossible to know that.