Iraq in the Crude World: Part 2

A stunning and revealing examination of oil's indelible impact on the countries that produce it and the people who possess it.

This is the second of a two part series. Part 1 was published Feb. 22.

A few weeks later, I saw [Osama] Kashmoula [an Oil Ministry engineer] in a conference room at the ministry, which was finally bouncing back to life. With April turning to May, more workers were allowed to return to their desks. The conference room, off the marble-floored lobby, had become the setting for a series of first dates in which Iraqi officials met American experts who represented the occupying power but stressed that they were advisers rather than bosses. The irony (or significance) was lost on no one that the first senior American to meet Kashmoula and other top ministry officials was a former ExxonMobil executive, Gary Vogler, who arrived at the ministry one day with a crew cut, flak jacket and bodyguards. Walking into the conference room, Vogler encountered more than a dozen Iraqis and attacked them with a firm handshake.

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