James Ledbetter

James Ledbetter is the op-ed editor of Reuters. He is the author, most recently, of Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex, published in January 2011

Recent Articles

Too Big to Imagine

Steve Coll's Private Empire tells you every last thing about ExxonMobil—except what to do about it.

(Flikr and AP Images)
E ven granting that testifying to congressional committees is not on the list of an oil CEO’s favorite things to do, when ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, known to his employees as “Iron Ass,” arrived at the Dirksen Senate Office building one morning in November 2005, he was in an especially reticent mood. Among other things, the Senate Energy Committee wanted to know about the corporation’s role in formulating policy with Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force. Raymond—who was chummy with Cheney and seven weeks away from his retirement, after 12 spectacularly profitable years at the helm first of Exxon and then Exxon-Mobil—did not think the committee needed to know. Thus when New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg asked Raymond whether he or any ExxonMobil executives participated in a 2001 meeting with Cheney, Raymond responded with a single syllable: “No.” The truth of that statement was something only a lawyer or a comedian could love, but it was consistent with how the company...

Best in Show

On May 2, 2005, Tony Blair's government will begin its ninth year of running the United Kingdom. That tenure makes Blair the nation's longest-sitting Labour leader in the history of his party, and one of the longest of any party in the modern history of the nation. Indeed, Blair, who turns 52 on May 6, is the longest-sitting leader of a leftist party of any sizable Western nation today (German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat also still in power, came to office a year after Blair). For any leader even nominally on the left, such longevity is a remarkable accomplishment. Yet Blair is vilified by much of the U.K. left, and if his legacy were written today, he would be remembered primarily for one policy, which was anticipated by absolutely no one when Labour was elected in 1997: his support for George W. Bush's war in Iraq. Blair's embrace of the war and subsequent occupation is conspicuous in part because it goes against Labour's once-reflexive pacifism; Prime Minister Harold...