Saturday, April 19, 2003[posted by jaed at 8:28 PM]
The world sees the UN as system damage and routes around it:
If the UN is determined to keep Iraq under punitive economic sanctions, we're obviously going to have to do something about that.
Reader Scott Draeker proposes that we might simply buy Iraqi oil ourselves, outside the control of the oil-for-food apparatus. It's a thought. If I'm reading the stats right, we can buy all they want to sell us without increasing our oil imports. But there are some problems with the idea.
First of all, of course, the sanctions don't just forbid Iraq to sell oil except through the UN. They forbid it to buy anything except through the UN too. Countries that want to stay on the UN's good side might refuse to sell anything to any Iraqi individual or business.
If a country is going to be limited to just one trading partner, having the US as that trading partner is probably the best choice... but it's not healthy for any economy to be so sharply limited. And it's poisonous for Iraq as a nation to start out being in such a position with other countries.
Second, what happens to the rest of the world market for oil if we buy exclusively from Iraq? Not that I'd mourn if Saudi oil sales went down, for example - there are those who suggest that one result of this war is that Iraq's newly restored oil sales can be used to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, possibly curtailing its support for terrorism without requiring military action. But being required to buy all Iraq's oil production robs us of some flexibility here.
Also, the "No blood for oil" conspirators will have a positive field day with such an arrangement, but then they will anyway, so that's kind of a wash.