Yesterday Iraq announced an open international bidding for eight enormous oil and gas fields. But hold your horses -- it will still be a year before any contracts are signed. And what if the U.S. does take a stake in these fields, which could involve the biggest foreign stake in Iraq since its oil industry was nationalized more than 30 years ago? Will it be perceived that the U.S. entered Operation Iraqi Freedom partially to take a stake in that little "ray of sunshine?" And would Iraq give the U.S. special treatment in the international bidding? "Politics does not come into this,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Monday (AP). "There is no preferential treatment for anyone.”