A Good Question

I am an avid supporter of our efforts in Iraq, but an article on CNN.com brought to light a good question about the Iraqi government.

Two senators are asking congressional investigators to look at Iraq’s oil revenues and see if the war-ravaged nation can pay for its own reconstruction, an effort that has been bankrolled to this point mostly by U.S. taxpayers.

Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and John Warner, R-Virginia, said in their Friday letter to the Government Accountability Office that Iraq has “tremendous resources” in banks worldwide but is doing little to improve security and reconstruction efforts.

Iraqi officials did not immediately respond to the senators’ allegations.

Sounds a little harsh until you consider the facts….

Using numbers from the U.S. State Department and Iraqi Oil Ministry, the senators said Iraq hopes to produce 2.2 million barrels of oil a day this year. Weekly averages suggest that the number has climbed as high as 2.51 million barrels a day.

That kind of oil production could earn Iraq a projected $56.4 billion this year, an estimate the senators say is low given the rising cost of crude.

“In essence, we believe that Iraq will accrue at least $100.0 billion in oil revenues in 2007 and 2008,” the letter said.

It added, “Our conversations with both Iraqis and Americans during our frequent visits to Iraq, as well as official government and unofficial media reports, have convinced us that the Iraqi government is not doing nearly enough to provide essential services and improve the quality of life of its citizens.”

I’m a little frustrated about paying $3.10 a gallon at the pump to fuel my car.  I guess that has tainted my view of this.  But I have always been a little critical of the Iraqi government’s efforts to secure their nation with less US assistance in terms of providing for their own security and providing basic services for their people.

I am happy to help the Iraqis militarily.  We should not leave Iraq until the job is done, but it’s time to let go of the handlebars sometimes  and let them start to pedal on their own.  If Iraq were to start using some of that vast oil wealth, they could decrease the US taxpayer burden.  I know that would make our efforts in Iraq a lot more palatable to many Americans.  I believe it is time to start the weaning process.