Pundita: I've been having nightmares recently. Last night I had another one.
Michael Wright: What was it?
Pundita: I dreamed Robert Gates was running the Pentagon.
Michael Wright: He's just a place marker.
Pundita: That's the most dangerous sentence in the English language.
Michael Wright: Dick Cheney and Russian military advisors will be running the war.
Pundita: That's not funny!
Michael Wright: So what is that sound? A Pundita sneeze? Stop worrying. You got your wish; McCain's plan was chosen.
Pundita: My biggest wish was to seal Iraq's borders.
Michael Wright: I've told you before that's not going to happen.
Pundita: Then they're still emptying the ocean with a sieve. You got your wish also; one part of the new plan is to pile equipment on Iraq's military.
Michael Wright: I'm not sure the equipment includes attack helicopters.
Pundita: It better not happen, or there won't be a Sunni village left standing.
Michael Wright: You said yourself that the Saudis won't let that happen.
Pundita: Thomas Ricks is reporting that the new plan is doomed to fail because it will be successful. The military observers he interviewed say that the plan will work initially to quell the violence and then by the summer, when al Qaeda and the militias have figured out the new tactics, they'll strike again with renewed force.
Michael Wright: By the summer Lukoil will be back in business in Iraq.
Pundita: Are you pulling my leg?
Michael Wright: No, it's in the papers, at least in Europe. Iraq's parliament is set to ratify their hydrocarbon law, which honors any preexisting contracts to develop Iraqi oil fields. Lukoil is already in negotiations with [Iraq's] oil ministry. That didn't happen without US okay.
Pundita: Then you weren't joking about Russian military advisors.
Michael Wright: If the US doesn't provide the attack helicopters you can bet Russia will gift them to Iraq's military. Everything's been on hold while Iraq's new government crystallized; now that the government is legit, they can start honoring old contracts, including those with France and Germany -- and Russia.
It's all over but the shouting once reinforcements descend on Baghdad.
Pundita: But Zawahiri is crowing about the new plan! He said to send in the entire US military and al Qaeda would make dog food out them.
Michael Wright: So he's making a fool out of Pelosi. This is cause for worry? [Nancy Pelosi said recently that the war on terror is in Afghanistan.]
Pundita: Wait a minute; if Russian military advisors are going to descend on Iraq, what does that do to Russia's relations with Iran?
Michael Wright: Let's see -- Iran backs off in Iraq, Russia continues to block harsh penalties for Iran, which doesn't matter anyhow because the EU and China don't support being tough on Iran.
Pundita: Chaos rules.
Michael Wright: Expediency rules and actions tend to cancel out other actions on the diplomatic front in war. The best thing [Condoleezza] Rice ever said was, "One war at a time."
Pundita: She doesn't see Iraq as part of the war on terror.
Michael Wright: Yes she does; she reads intelligence reports. I'll rephrase: "One theater of war at a time."
Pundita: You don't think the US will bomb Iran this spring?
Michael Wright: If we allowed China to help Kimmy build a nuke, if we allowed France, Germany and Russia to help Iran build their nuke facilities, do you think we'll risk a shooting war with Iran over the issue of the Bomb? Have you considered the souring of relations between Syria and Iran, and between Qaeda and Iran? Qaeda is backing the Sunnis.
Pundita: My head is spinning from trying to keep the sides straight.
Michael Wright: Alliances are very fluid in war. Now what else is worrying you?
Pundita: The coalition between Venezuela and Iran.
Michael Wright: Thanks to Hugo Chavez, the world's Leftists are now in the position of defending a theocracy. Trust me when I tell you, this is not where any self-respecting Leftist wants to be.
Pundita: The Iranian oil bourse. I'm worried it's going to happen.
Michael Wright: That old chestnut! The bourse is supposed to be a futures market, which is against Sharia, so now it's war between Iran's technocrats and the theocrats. So what, if it does happen. It doesn't matter whether they trade in euros or rials or wombats; Iran's financial infrastructure is three clerks strapped to a treadmill.
If Iran wants to fight the US on the economics front, first they have to join us -- specifically, join the WTO. Before they can do that, they have to institute financial modernizations up to the yingyang. They can't do that, until they ditch the theocrats.
Pundita: So you're not worried about a petrocurrency war?
Michael Wright: Currency traders aren't nuts -- not the ones who trade for central banks. You were the one who said back in 1990 -- or was it 1979 -- that a basket of currencies for oil trades was on the way and overdue.
If the EU wants to take on the burden of being the world's reserve currency, which they can't do at this time, this will make US exports all the more attractive. There will be central bank interventions to prevent the dollar from going into a tailspin. So Chavez can plot and scheme all he wants; he can't take the US down through petrocurrency plays. What else is worrying you?
Pundita: I can't think of anything at the moment. Do you have any advice?
Michael Wright: Stop eating pepperoni pizza just before going to sleep.
1) Lukoil set to revive $4bn Saddam oil deal