The oil curse

During a recent trip to East Timor, World Bank head and former US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that being oil-rich could be a curse for developing countries.

“I want to learn more…about how your people and the government plan to handle what is, potentially, a blessing of oil and the money that comes with it,” he said.

“Unfortunately, if you look around the developing world, I think you’d have to say that oil revenue is more often a curse than a blessing.”

This is the same man who strong advocated and planned the Iraq war and offered this insight in March 2003:

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people”¦and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

This hasn’t happened, of course, and the Iraq war may cost up to US$2 trillion. Wolfowitz’s utterances should be treated with the utmost caution.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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