FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Oil and the War on Iraq

As the drive to war in Iraq races toward a precarious endgame, the lead-footed Bush Administration shows no signs of heeding to the caution flags flying in from all sides.

Urgings to go slow are not just a phenomena of “Old Europe.” At home, retired General Anthony Zinni, a consultant to Colin Powell, and many other retired generals, admirals, and officers have warned about the potential for “blowback.” They argue convincingly that this pending war diverts and distracts from the war on terror and is likely to catalyze further acts of terror against the citizens and security of the United States. Retired general Wesley Clark told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a war would “super-charge recruiting for Al Qaeda.”

With U.N. Security Council Members France, Russia, and China still unconvinced of the need for immediate military action, international support for “preemptive strike” seems unlikely to materialize. Even governments that support a U.S.-led war in Iraq, such as Britain, Turkey, Spain, do not have the support of their people. If the U.S. chooses to go it alone or with the help of only a few allies, the already present strains of international anti-Americanism will become even more virulent.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has been less than forthcoming in providing the public estimates of the actual costs of a war, both in terms of troops and money. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences estimates that over 10 years, war and the reconstruction of Iraq could cost as much as $2 trillion–almost the equivalent of the entire annual federal budget. In the New York Review of Books, Yale Professor William D. Nordhaus puts thelow estimate at $120 billion and a high estimate at $1.6 trillion, given a combination of “different adverse effects.” Despite the costs and dangers to innocent civilians, one powerful administration constituency stands to benefit from a unilateral war in Iraq that results in a U.S.-led regime change. That constituency is the oil industry, whose slick influence and crude ambitions permeate the administration from top to bottom. Both the President and the Vice President are former oil executives. National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice is a former director of Chevron. President Bush took more than $1.8 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industries in the 2000 election. All told, 41 members of the administration had ties to the oil industry.

U.S. oil companies, banned from Iraq for more than a decade, would like nothing more than to control the production of Iraqi oil. With reserves of 112.5 billion barrels, Iraq sits on top of 11% of the world’s oil. Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ill.) are two of the many politicians who have the question of who will control Iraq’s petroleum on their minds.

Plans for control of the oil fields are already being laid. The Wall Street Journal reported on January 16 that officials from the White House, State Department and Department of Defense have been meeting informally with executives from Halliburton, Slumberger, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips to plan the post-war oil bonanza. But no one wants to talk about it. Larry Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation told the Journal, “If we go to war, it’s not about oil. But the day the war ends, it has everything to do with oil.” The American people have a right to know what role the oil industry is playing in Bush’s increasingly frenetic drive to war. What is being discussed in these meetings regarding the oil industry’s designs on this gigantic pool of petroleum?

The American people also have a right to know what was discussed in the numerous secret meetings Vice President Cheney’s national energy task force held with oil and gas executives. Cheney has been adamantly secretive about these meetings, despite repeated attempts by Congress and public interest groups to learn what was discussed.

Cheney’s energy policy casts as inevitable that we will have to import 17 million barrels of oil a day (two-thirds of our supply) by 2020 and subsequently recommends “that the President make energy security a priority of our trade and foreign policy.” It does not recommend specific goals for conservation anytime in the near future. Just as Cheney refused to meet with anybody but industry cronies in formulating the national energy policy, Bush is now refusing to entertain the counsel of anyone but war hawks. Repeated entreaties by national peace groups, including veterans, clergy, and business groups, for meetings with the President have fallen on ears deaf to anything but the constant beating of war drums.

While it would be naive to label this purely as a war for oil, the apparent connections are enough to raise some serious questions. And when coupled with the Administration’s frighteningly stubborn insistence on ignoring the caution signs pouring in from all sides, those questions become even more serious.

 

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail