A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New MEI Viewpoints on Iraq's Petroleum Industry

MEI has another new Viewpoints out, entitled Iraq's Petroleum Industry: Unsettled Issues. That link takes you to the descriptive page. The full text (.pdf) is here.


Anonymous said...

So the Saudis want the world to know that Iraq will not be a substitute for Saudi Arabia. How much Saudi 'contributions' did the Middle East Institute get last year?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Since we're a non-profit such information is publicly available on the Internet, in our Annual Report, and elsewhere. Nothing "Anonymous" about it, Mr. Anonymous, if that IS your real name.

None of our contributors have the slightest input in our editorial product anyway. You have the editor's word on that.

And so does everyone else, since I think you've already made up your mind.

Anonymous said...

But you are being a little naive, aren't you? If not to buy influence, then why are the Saudis paying for your organization's overhead? Is supporting the Middle East Institute mandated by zakat? Academic integrity is compromised when accepting money from a non-elected dictatorship that is, by any measure, the least enlightened form of government anywhere on the globe. I'm not out to stop the process, since I know I can't. I'm just pointing it out to those who have not been uninitiated into how Saudi funding distorts America's understanding of the Middle East. Or at least bends, just a little, to whatever is favorable to Saudi Arabia's talking points.

I'm sure in good time Iraqi oil money will also buy allegiances in Washington and across academia, to Saudi Arabia's detriment. Hopefully Iraq remains a democracy; it's easier, when a man or woman's conscience is involved, to sell out to governments held accountable by their people.

And if you are offended by my anonymity, then why don't you disable that option for your commenters from the get-go?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

There's no point in carrying this much further, but the Saudis don't "pay for my organization's overhead"; Saudi Aramco is one of our many corporate members. We may have other Saudi members; we have Israeli members too, and recent MEI President Ned Walker was Ambassador to Israel.

As to why I don't disable anonymous postings, it's because of something that the Saudis probably wouldn't approve of: it's called free expression and an open exchange of ideas.

That's all I'll have to say on this subject.

LJ Marczak said...

One thing that the MEI is known for is serving as a neutral ground where opposing viewpoints meet and get a fair forum to put forth their views. That's clear from the various speeches and discussions that the Institute sponsors.

As well as the research that it publishes which represent the analysis of the individual scholars.

When a firm I worked for was solicited to be a sponsor, we were told in no uncertain terms what MEI's approach was. "We're not an advocacy group. We're a neutral forum. We have no party line. Because of that, from time to time you're likely to hear things you disagree with in our forum. The speakers we invite and the scholars who write for us 'Call them as they see them'.

This (or words highly similar) were said to my boss (an Arab) and me in our then offices in the GCC.

In that vein, not too long ago I read an MEI issued report in which a scholar discussed a topic that I personally know raised more than a few hackles with a major donor.

The very salutary thing about contrary opinions is that it forces (or should) one to think a bit more closely about one's own cherished opinions.

That's what the MEI is about and has been for more than 60 years.