CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
By May 23, 2007 it became clear that the Democrats were little better than the Republicans when given the task of ending the Iraq War. Like their Republican counterparts, the Democrats took on the mantle of Bush-enablers by granting him another $95 billion dollars supplemental authorization to keep the war going. Not until September 2007 would the matter of funding the Iraq War come home to roost in the Congress.
Why did this happen? The dirty truth is that both political parties are hooked on an addiction to Iraqi oil. So, both parties are now filled with imperialists. That is right—oil-addicted imperialists. The great majority in Congress have signed on to the Bush administration’s agenda of stealing Iraq’s oil resources and placing permanent US military bases in that country to guarantee uninterrupted access regardless of the cost in blood or treasure. It all started in 2003 when Bush assigned Paul Bremer to be the head of the Coalitional Provisional Authority (CPA).
In violation of international law, Bremer started issuing orders on how the Iraqi economy would be run and who would get what. Bremer began to organize what the Bush administration wanted for the whole region—privatization. Never mind the fact that Bremer’s illegal orders also created the basis for the current civil war in Iraq. Insofar as different ethnic groups would stand to benefit more than others from the new arrangements it was clear that some groups would be cut out all together. Hence, the Bush supported Maleki government is a propped up hoax that is unrepresentative of the interests of millions of Iraqi citizens who have been disenfranchised within their new “democratic” state.
Foreign owned business and enterprise would be empowered to ignore the limitations imposed by a now defunct Iraqi Constitution that prohibited the sale of the nation’s resources to foreigners. In short, profits were to be had as the Bush administration pushed for a Free Trade Area (FTA) that would extend throughout the Middle East. It was not really designed to bring democracy, in the sense of a political opening for the unrepresented and excluded of the region. Rather, it was a democratization of Iraq’s oil resources so that privatized firms, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton could capitalize on new economic arrangements that leave the Iraqi people with growing unemployment and deprive them of the oil revenues of their own nation. Iraq may have as much as 300 billion barrels of oil untapped. With oil headed toward $70 dollars a barrel, the oil wealth of Iraq could be worth as much as $21 trillion. Hence, here we have the real rationale of an endless occupation.
Never mind the fact that over 60 percent of the American public wants the war to end now. That is what the November 2006 elections were supposed to be about. Those elections gave the Democrats a mandate to develop a spine and stand up to the Liar-in-Chief about the Iraq War. What happened? They started to play politics with the Republican rope-a-dope strategy of “support our troops.” Never mind the fact that real support for the troops would be to bring them home after 4 tours of duty and keep them alive from the bullets and RPG launchers that have come to symbolize the nature of the civil war. Never mind the fact that over 500-thousand Iraqi citizens have been killed since the war began. In fact, when one examines the death toll of civilian dead you come to realize that some citizens were needless by our own troops in the village of Hidatha and in the prison at Abu Ghraib.
So, what was the plan to begin with? Was it to remove WMDs? Was it to spread democracy in the Middle East? Or was it really another chance for the West to play the “Great Game”—try to control Eurasia and all of the oil down to the Persian Gulf. Some historians and commentators track the strategy back to the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter announced the Carter-Doctrine in a State of the Union Message. It was a declaration in the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine. If any nation or power should seek to cut off American access to the oil supplies of the Middle East, military action would be taken in order to forestall or eliminate such a threat. Bush has merely fulfilled what the Carter Doctrine promised.
Yet, the Bush strategy really has not succeeded because the course it took in Iraq amounts to what the policy wonks call a “failed strategy.” Well, that analysis merely gets us to military strategy and tactics. It simply critiques the failure of an imperial policy. It conveniently ignores the dirty truth that the grand strategy of the Great Game is one of imperialism and establishing American hegemony over both the Middle East and from there the rest of the globe. For if the US can deny the Russians and Chinese access to new energy sources, then the US can put a stop to the threat of two potential rivals or Hegemons that might be capable of moving in on America’s control of both the Middle East and the world.
The political elites of the US political and financial establishment want control of Iraq, the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, and the rest of Eurasia. These US elites will do anything to block off Russian and Chinese efforts to profit from the energy reserves of the Middle East. In geopolitical terms the American strategy is one of seeking to maintain hegemony—unchallenged control over the region and the international economy. In that sense, both parties have suffered withdrawal symptoms when it comes to leaving Iraq. Both parties are too addicted to oil and to a strategy of imperialism that sustains the addiction. In the meantime, democratic representation in the United States and in Iraq is virtually dead.
Terrence Paupp is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and author of the recent book, Exodus From Empire: The Fall of America’s Empire and the Rise of the Global Community (Pluto Press, 2007).