Peter Galbraith in the News Again

Map of the Autonomous Region Kurdistan, create...Image via Wikipedia

Peter Galbraith was thrown under the bus over the Afghan election in late September. Last week, Nate Jones over at the Unredacted Blog of the National Security Archive blogged about their “hot doc,” released by the Department of State to Archive analyst William Ferroggiaro on 22 June 2004; it features Galbraith who was then US Ambassador to Croatia.

“This 1994 State Department cable
, penned by then US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, described as “MUST READ” by its cover letter, was disseminated to White House personnel. Galbraith reported that the criteria for genocide, as defined by the Geneva Convention, were being met in the three-party war raging in the former Yugoslavia.” Click here on how to decipher a State Department cable.

On November 11, NYT published U.S. Adviser to Kurds Stands to Reap Oil Profits:

Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry. In the summer of 2005, he was also an adviser to the Kurdish regional government as Iraq wrote its Constitution — tough and sensitive talks not least because of issues like how Iraq would divide its vast oil wealth.

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.

The Editors of NYT are none too happy about this. On November 12, it also published an Editors’ Note:

Like other writers for the Op-Ed page, Mr. Galbraith signed a contract that obligated him to disclose his financial interests in the subjects of his articles. Had editors been aware of Mr. Galbraith’s financial stake, the Op-Ed page would have insisted on disclosure or not published his articles.

Last night, Galbraith spoke openly about the issue at an appearance at the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Brattleboro Reformer reported that Galbraith spoke to a large crowd regarding the recent elections and future American involvement in Afghanistan, where he served as the deputy special representative to the United Nations. The conversation reportedly shifted quickly to the new reports of his business interests in Kurdistan. Excerpts below:

Defending his business decisions, Galbraith said “I actually find the article quite, well, it is full of innuendo. If you read the facts [with the implications and innuendo], I find [it] offensive.”
In August 2005, Galbraith said he was asked by the Kurds to advise them on a permanent constitution, even after they were aware of his business interests with foreign oil companies. With the Kurdish political leaders controlling their own oil industry, it provides them an economic base for the people, a goal Galbraith said he always supported.

“I gave them advice and the end result that they achieved was identical to what was already proposed in February 2004,” he said. “Now, it’s true that people in Baghdad may disagree with that, people in Washington may disagree with that, but there’s no conflict there. The advice I was giving and the economic interest were exactly, exactly congruent.”

If you talk to a majority of the Kurdish people, they say the oil under their feet is a curse because it has given former Iraqi leaders the financial means to kill them, said Galbraith. By having their own natural resources, the Kurds have a vehicle to defend themselves against future attacks, he added.

“I make no apologies for my role here … at that time, I was a private citizen. Private citizens engage in business, that’s what I did.”

Read the whole thing here.

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