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Peter Galbraith: Poster Boy for ‘Bipartisanship Rationale’ for Iraq War, Covert Oil Profiteer

Peter Galbraith, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, was a very influential “liberal hawk” in promoting the War in Iraq. This brought him much acclaim among the neocons as well as the media, and thus a power player within the Democratic party.

The analyses of Peter Galbraith have been frequently quoted by the Washington Post. Mr. Galbraith has written a series of op-ed pieces for the NYT. He has been a frequent guest on NPR, CNN and Fox. He was Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Croatia. He was 2002 adviser to Paul Wolfowitz on Kurdistan. He has influenced the Middle Eastern policy perspectives of Vice President Joseph Biden and Sen. John Kerry. He was mentored by foreign policy power player Richard Holbrook, who during the first stage of the Obama administration successfully pushed the U.N. to assign Galbraith to be second in command of its mission in Afghanistan (he has since been fired because of his strong stance against Karzai election fraud).

The New York Times revealed this week (from a prior investigation by two Norwegian journalists) that Peter Galbraith has had a major conflict of interests regarding his numerous active roles with the U.S. government and with Iraq because of a business investment his own 2004-founded, well-concealed corporation made in a Kurdish oil field. Given that one of Galbraith’s roles involved helping to set up a constitution in Iraq during which time Galbraith energetically pushed for the Kurds, not the central government of Baghdad, to control all new oil discovered on their territory, his ethically-compromised position seems indefensible, especially since he could make a cool profit of over $100 million from his heretofore secret investment.

The always astute and pithy Glenn Greenwald reviews the situation:

Galbraith’s relationship with the Kurds goes back many years. He undoubtedly knew that overthrowing Saddam would empower his Kurdish friends and their ability to dole out oil contracts. Indeed, in his own 2006 book, he recounts that he began working on Kurdish autonomy and independence "two weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein." Less than a year later, having helped convince the public — and many Democrats — to invade Iraq, he formed a company that then acquired a huge stake in Kurdish oil. And he then spent years running around trying to use his status as Foreign Policy Community expert to exploit the war he cheered on for his own massive personal gain, while keeping completely concealed those glaring conflicts of interests.


After playing a key role in enabling the invasion of Iraq, Galbraith first became one of a handful of U.S. officials who worked on writing the Iraqi Constitution, and after he resigned from the government, he then continuously posed as an independent expert on the region and, specifically, an "unpaid" adviser to the Kurds on the Constitution. Galbraith was an ardent and vocal advocate for Kurdish autonomy, arguing tirelessly in numerous venues for such proposals — including in multiple Op-Eds for The New York Times — and insisting that Kurds must have the right to control oil resources located in Northern Iraq.

Greenwald reveals that Peter Galbraith signed a March 19, 2003 public letter along with the such neocons as Bill Kristol, Max Boot, Danielle Pletka, and Robert Kagan which stated "we all join in supporting the military intervention in Iraq" and "it is now time to act to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power." Greenwald:

As intended, that letter was then praised by outlets such as The Washington Post Editorial Page, gushing that "it is both significant and encouraging that a bipartisan group of influential foreign policy thinkers, veterans of both Democratic and Republican administrations, has signed on to a statement of policy on Iraq that makes sense on the war." Throughout 2002 and 2003, Galbraith appeared in numerous outlets — including repeatedly on Fox News and with Bill O’Reilly — presenting himself as a loyal Democrat firmly behind the invasion of Iraq.

What does Galbraith say in his defense? According to The New York Times:

Mr. Galbraith says he held no official position in the United States or Iraq during this entire period and acted purely as a private citizen. He maintains that his largely undeclared dual role was entirely proper. He says that he was simply advocating positions that the Kurds had documented before his relationship with DNO [Det Norske Oljeselskap ASA (Norwegian Oil company)] even began.


Citing what he said were confidentiality agreements, Mr. Galbraith refused to give details of his financial arrangement with the company, and the precise nature of his compensation remains unknown. But several officials, including Mr. Galbraith’s business partner in the deal, the Norwegian businessman Endre Rosjo, said that in addition to whatever consulting fees the company paid, he and Mr. Galbraith were together granted rights to 10 percent of the large Tawke field and possibly others.

So, this man offered himself up as “THE symbol” of bipartisan support for the Iraq War. The man with such “credibility” and such broad media exposure as “expert” now proves the so-called hard leftie, oil conspiracy theorists once again deserve a big fat apology considering how craven and cynical the motivations and policy decisions to invade and occupy Iraq by the “deciders” and the latest crop of "deciders" are proving to be.

How will this play out in the accountability coma of the Obama administration I wonder? This man was obviously very insulated by Beltway cronyism in both party “teams” as well as some fresh Iraq “teams”. I wonder if his stance re the election fraud in Afghanistan stirred up some crony re-alignments? (BTW, I have no evidence of this.) It must be causing a real political hornet’s nest of distrust with Iraqis toward U.S. and corporate carpetbaggers. Why have these revelations taken so long to surface and, incidentially, they are from the hard digging of Norwegian not American journalists? How will the revelations play out among our own citizenry? A symphony of crickets or can we all rally some serious and even deeper outrage over the horrifying amorality and illegality of the original waging of the Iraq War and the profit exploitation of these Middle Eastern wars, so normalized as simply standard-operating-procedures for the political elite (whether Democratic or Republican) and their avaricious corporate cronies with their corporation-as-psychopath, anti-humanitarian agendas.

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