Today's New York Times story on Peter W. Galbraith is a must read. Galbraith is a leading liberal hawk and former ambassador, as well as a former adviser to Senator John Kerry and Vice-President Joe Biden. It seems that Galbraith used his political influence to get rich off Iraqi oil money. The crux of the article is this:
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.
It's a sensational story on its own, but what's also noteworthy is how the Times seemingly bends over backwards to distance the vice-president from Galbraith's impropriety:
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.
Blogger Tom Maguire is somewhat incredulous at the Times' assertion Biden was “influenced by Mr. Galbraith’s thinking but [does] not advocate such a partitioning of the country.” In fact, Maguire unearths this op-ed Galbraith wrote for, well, The New York Times some two years ago:
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.
Picking up where Maguire left off, here's a New York Times op-ed directly authored by Biden from 2006 where he advocates partitioning Iraq. And here's another New York Times article from 2007 — “Biden plan for 'soft partition' of Iraq gains momentum.” Here's the New York Times covering a campaign ad Biden ran in Iowa where he advocates his plan to partition Iraq. I could go on.
What happened here is clear — Joe Biden advocated policies in Iraq that his adviser Galbraith also advocated. Galbraith profited handsomely off those policies through close ties to oil companies. Does anyone think that if this story were about an adviser to Dick Cheney profiteering as a nexus between powerful politicians and oil companies that the paper would dishonestly obscure the relationship between the two men?