Thursday’s off-lead story by James Glanz and Walter Gibbs is on recent revelations that Peter Galbraith, an “unpaid adviser to the Kurds” who has influenced Democratic policymakers like former senator (now Vice President) Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry, stands to make millions from his closeness to the Kurds and a Norwegian oil company.
Given the typical Times sympathies for anti-war and leftish “blood for oil” arguments, the Times couldn’t ignore the story, and indeed provides a lot of new damning details -- but also has one enormous gaffe that lets Vice President Biden off the hook.
Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry. In the summer of 2005, he was also an adviser to the Kurdish regional government as Iraq wrote its Constitution -- tough and sensitive talks not least because of issues like how Iraq would divide its vast oil wealth.
Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.
In the constitutional negotiations, he helped the Kurds ram through provisions that gave their region -- rather than the central Baghdad government -- sole authority over many of their internal affairs, including clauses that he maintains will give the Kurds virtually complete control over all new oil finds on their territory.
As the scope of Mr. Galbraith’s financial interests in Kurdistan become clear, they have the potential to inflame some of Iraqis’ deepest fears, including conspiracy theories that the true reason for the American invasion of their country was to take its oil. It may not help that outside Kurdistan, Mr. Galbraith’s influential view that Iraq should be broken up along ethnic lines is considered offensive to many Iraqis’ nationalism. Mr. Biden and Mr. Kerry, who have been influenced by Mr. Galbraith’s thinking but do not advocate such a partitioning of the country, were not aware of Mr. Galbraith’s oil dealings in Iraq, aides to both politicians say.
Oh really? Blogger Tom Maguire remembers Biden's position differently, and in support of his argument calls up...back copies of the Times:
Joe Biden did not advocate partitioning Iraq? Uh huh, and Dick Cheney never worked for Halliburton.
Meanwhile, back here in reality we are left wondering, if Biden never advocated the partition of Iraq then why did the Times print this guest rubbish from none other than Peter Galbraith back in 2007:
In a surge of realism, the Senate has voted 75-23 to acknowledge that Iraq has broken up and cannot be put back together. The measure, co-sponsored by Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, and Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, supports a plan for Iraq to become a loose confederation of three regions -- a Kurdish area in the north, a Shiite region in the south and a Sunni enclave in the center -- with the national government in Baghdad having few powers other than to manage the equitable distribution of oil revenues.
[Image of Peter Galbraith from PBS]