By January of this year, Saudi officials I spoke with during the Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh were looking for investment opportunities in Iraq and even fretting that the country could one day soon produce enough oil to challenge the Saudi role as sole source of spare global capacity—the amount of extra available oil that can be produced on relatively short notice. Iraq now produces about 2.4 million barrels per day. Given the dozen or so contracts signed recently with heavyweight foreign oil companies, there’s good reason to believe that Iraq can produce three times that amount within the next decade, rivaling the Saudis’ 10.8 million barrels per day…

That progress will provide federal and local Iraqi authorities with the revenue needed to build new roads, bridges, airports, schools, and homes; about 95 percent of the Iraqi government’s money comes from oil. They will spend on the infrastructure needed to provide millions of Iraqis with the reliable supplies of food, water, electricity and sanitation services they don’t yet have. This spending and construction will provide more Iraqis with new jobs and more money to spend. As David Brooks pointed out in a recent column, unemployment has already fallen sharply—though it’s still at 15 percent—and GDP is expected to grow by about 7 percent next year. Iraq already ranks No. 12 on the list of the world’s fastest-growing economies.