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Monday, August 11, 2008

An invitation to Senator Barack Obama to meet with IVAW

[reposted from Iraq Veterans Against the War]

Dear Senator Obama,

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded by Iraq war veterans in July 2004 at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace (VFP) in Boston to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent.

From its inception, IVAW has called for:
  • Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq;
  • Reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future; and
  • Full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.
Today, IVAW members are in 48 states and on numerous bases overseas, with chapters throughout the U.S. and in Canada and Germany.

On behalf of Iraq Veterans Against the War I would like to invite you to meet with a delegation of our members at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, located at 915 East 9th Avenue Denver, CO between August 25-27, at a time most convenient to you. We would like to discuss your position on withdrawal from Iraq as well as your commitment to veterans care and reparations to the Iraqi people. We would also like to present to you our Winter Soldier testimony, which illustrates the moral necessity of bringing an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience regarding this matter, stating whether or not you or members of your staff will attend or proposing an alternative location for the meeting.

In addition, we would like you to review the following background information and provide your official response to the questions below prior to or on the date of August 27, 2008.

US-headquartered multinational corporations (MNCs) are currently awaiting passage of a law governing foreign direct investment (FDI) in Iraq's energy sector. They have indicated that they will not substantially invest in reconstruction of the country's oil infrastructure until the Iraqi government passes a law which will allow them to negotiate long-term investment contracts called "Production Sharing Agreements" (PSAs) in the parlance of the oil industry.

PSAs have been compared to the colonial concessions which European imperial powers imposed upon Middle Eastern nations in the 20th century, including Iraq and Iran. Numerous historians have pointed out that these concessions humiliated the Arab-Muslim world for decades and provoked internal political instability, the rise of militant nationalism and most recently, religious radicalism directed primarily against the United States.

We are concerned that the Bush administration, despite its denials, is exerting political pressure on the Iraqi government to pass a law which will open the door to these types of contracts once again. We believe that this sort of alleged pressure directly contradicts the ostensible mission of the United States military in Iraq and hinders political progress and stability there. Without a doubt, the prospect of perpetual instability will tempt future administrations to justify a prolonged occupation or continued interference in Iraq's internal political affairs.

Our troops have fought hard. They do not deserve to have their efforts undermined by this or any other administration. The Iraqi people demand independence and we have no right to deny it to them. In doing so we contradict the principles our own nation was founded on and act against our own national security interests. For these reasons we are determined to oppose such policies, official or otherwise.

For more information please see the accompanying documents.

Our questions are:
  • What is your position on long term FDI in Iraq's oil industry by US-headquartered MNCs?
  • What is your position on the role of the United States government in negotiating a so-called hydrocarbon law with the Iraqi government which would govern FDI there?
  • What is your position on Production Sharing Agreements and similar sorts of contracts?
  • What is your position on debt relief to the Iraqi government? Should it be contingent upon passage of the above-mentioned hydrocarbon law?
  • What is your position on the so-called Strategic Framework Agreement, which is rumored to contain language on FDI? Should it be ratified by the U.S. Senate, whether or not it is actually called a "treaty"?
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Kelly Dougherty
Executive Director
Iraq Veterans Against the War

Supporting Documents:

Secret US plans for Iraq's oil [BBC Newsnight]
Hands off Iraqi oil [Naomi Klein]
Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth [pdf]
Spoils of War [In These Times]
Resisting the economic war in Iraq [pdf - Platform]
Slick Connections: U.S. Influence on Iraqi Oil [pdf - Foreign Policy in Focus]
Panel Questions State Dept. Role in Iraq Oil Deal [New York Times]

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