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WASHINGTON, DC - About a year after leaving his post as National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama, Gen. (Ret.) James Jones was tapped to lead a U.S. business trade group focused on increasing ties with Iraqi Kurdistan.
The United States-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) officially launched in April 2012. Jones has become a strong proponent of "energy security" as a strategic U.S. foreign policy objective, having served in positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and now the Bi-Partisan Policy Center.
During his military career, he served as the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and the supreme allied commander of NATO.
In a recent interview with Iraq Oil Report, Jones discussed his frustration with U.S. policy toward Iraq, which he says is giving Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a pass.
He also calls on the U.S. government to get behind ExxonMobil and other American oil companies in their quest to partner with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to build an oil sector in northern Iraq.
Ben Lando: I want to talk about U.S. investment interests in Iraqi Kurdistan and go over the related issues. But first, how and why did you get involved with the USKBC?
BL: So then what's the role of the U.S. government? In order to support American companies or organizations in Kurdistan, what does the U.S. need to do?
JJ: Well, I think one of the most stabilizing aspects of what's going on is the fact that American industry is involved. I think that in itself is a stabilizing influence on the region. And I don't think that the central government in Baghdad or the KRG are going to risk the economic potential that is there in the country and in the region to start some sort of conflict. I could be wrong. I see our presence as very stabilizing.
As a matter of fact, (Kurdistan) President (Massoud) Barzani told me specifically, it's almost a direct quote, that four American companies in Kurdistan are worth two army divisions. That's how much importance they ascribe to American presence in Kurdistan as a stabilizing, confidence-building presence. So the geostrategic implications of American business through USKBC going there is extremely useful, I think.