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Oil Wars and New Europe’s Mercenaries

In a political world blackened with the stinking pitch of lies, distortion and death-dealing hypocrisy, a shining knight of truth stepped boldly forth last week. With admirable–if ruthless–honesty, Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimioszewicz openly declared that his nation joined the Anglo-American crusade against Iraq for one purpose only: a share of the plunder from the conquered country’s oil fields.

Here was no shifting, no spin, no crocodile tears about “democracy” and “liberation” such as are wont to dribble down the ever-flapping cheeks of Crusader George and his faithful page Tony. While new each day seems to bring another tortured “justification” for aggressive war from the Coalition’s loquacious leaders, bold Cimioszewicz dispensed with pious cant and spoke plainly, the BBC reports.

“We have never hidden our desire for Polish oil companies to finally have access to sources of commodities,” the minister told a group of Polish magnates gathered to sign an agreement allowing them to join the corporate hunting packs from the United States and Britain in tearing off chunks of the Iraqi carcass. Indeed, access to Iraq’s oilfields “is our ultimate objective,” Cimioszewicz told the press.

That’s why Poland contributed a small combat force to the invasion: to seal its claims to loot in blood. It’s the Bush Doctrine, you see: “If you wanna share the bread, you gotta pile up the dead.” Now that the Poles have made their bones (figuratively and literally), the Busha Nostra will cut them in for a taste.

But the wise Warsawians know it’s not enough to be willing to blow the bejesus out of a few swarthy Arabs (and their children)–or even to expose your own young soldiers to the ever-present threat of a cruel and pointless death occupying a distant land where they’re not wanted. That might get you a pat on the head from the White House, but it won’t achieve your “ultimate objective.” No, for that, you must cross the proper palms with silver.

And those would be the hot little hands of the Halliburton Corporation, the great googily-moogily of militarized American commerce. The well-connected conglomerate has been handed billions in taxpayer money–often in open-ended, no-bid, have-a-spree contracts–to supply military, construction and energy services to the Potomac Empire’s far-flung outposts around the globe. Most recently they’ve taken up yet another profitable little sideline, courtesy of the White House: controlling Iraq’s oil fields–the second largest petroleum reserves in the world.

Halliburton was once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, who still receives a hefty sum in “deferred compensation” from the company every year. Under Cheney, Halliburton milked government grants and credits for its private business ventures–including $73 million in profitable deals with Mr. Mass Graves himself, Saddam Hussein. Sure, it was blood money, but profit is profit, right? As CEO Cheney himself said in 1998: “The good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States.”

Halliburton gave Cheney $36 million as a parting gift when he left the firm just before the 2000 election–and they’ve made out like the proverbial bandits since their old boss ascended to his secure, undisclosed location behind the Bushist throne. So when Poland’s business elite wanted a share in the carve-up of Iraq, they knew just where to go: Cimioszewicz signed on the dotted line for a partnership with Halliburton, new lords of Iraq’s oil. The “ultimate objective” at last!

But of course, Poland is just a bit player on the great world stage. It’s all very well for such riff-raff to act solely from the desire for filthy lucre–but surely the knights-errant at the apex of the Coalition were guided by nothing but the loftiest intentions. Surely they wouldn’t kill people and put their own troops in danger just to grab “access to sources of commodities,” would they?

Well, they might. Last week, Coalition commander General Tommy Franks admitted that he launched the invasion two weeks ahead of schedule, before the full complement of troops, supplies and support were in place, the Guardian reports. And why did he send his underprepared army storming across the border in such a hurry? To liberate the languishing natives more quickly? To seize those weapons of mass destruction that had been pinpointed so accurately? Of course not. Franks said he jumped the gun because “intelligence sources” thought the Iraqis were planning to set fire to the oil fields.

And we couldn’t let that happen, could we? What would be the point of invading the place otherwise? How would Halliburton fill its coffers? Who would sign Dick Cheney’s checks? So out went months of planning, and in went the cannon fodder, their lives as meaningless to their masters then as they are now–dying in ambushes day after day, their deaths dismissed by Don Rumsfeld as “militarily insignificant” and used by Bush as material for playground taunts: “Bring ’em on!”

Real tough guys, aren’t they–launching their bluster from a world away, behind a phalanx of armed guards, during breaks from their golf games or lavish fundraisers. Not for their dainty hands the grubby rifle clutched nervously on a Baghdad patrol; not for their pampered flesh the ambusher’s bullet, the guerrilla’s bomb. But “access to sources of commodities?” Ah yes, that belongs to them alone: massive loot to be ladled out to their corporate sponsors–and to their spear-carriers, their helots, the self-confessed mercenaries of the “New Europe.”

CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He can be reached at: cfloyd72@hotmail.com

 

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Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

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