Last month the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, and that seems to have been the last straw.
Now hereís the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the Presidentís Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.
Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isnít all that surprising, given this administrationís history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the ďaxis of evil.Ē
No, whatís interesting about this deal is the fact that Mr. Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdadís disapproval, heís essentially betting that the Iraqi government ó which hasnít met a single one of the major benchmarks Mr. Bush laid out in January ó wonít get its act together. Indeed, heís effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.