Oh, No, It Was Never About the Oil!
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Thousands of Iraqis have been reduced to poverty, raped and murdered by rampaging goons as U.S. Marines stood around and watched. Wanna guess how long it will take them to "get over it"? We watched the plunder of museums in Mosul and Baghdad safe at home with our tisk-tisk dismay, but Iraqis will remain outraged by the wanton devastation we wrought through war, permitted through negligence and shrugged off through arrogance. ("We didn't allow it," Rumsfeld shrugged. "It happened.") Imagine foreign troops sitting idly, laughing as hooligans trashed the Smithsonian, stole the gold from Fort Knox and burned down the Department of the Interior.
That was us in Iraq. - Ted Rall, April 23rd, 2003.
(T)he race to capture the Iraq oil fields at Kirkuk and Mosul (i)s "like a scene from a Zero Mostel movie. Turks racing along side U.S., Syrian, Iraqi exile and Kellogg Brown & Root forces, all trying to beat a Kurdish contingent with far less distance to traverse while Al-Qaeda and the Iranians hurtle in from the East. It's like motherfuckin' NASCAR except the guns are bigger." - The Assassinated Press, March 20, 2003
I'm sure that if Iraq had bean fields instead of oil and natural gas fields, we still would've invaded them. After all, the Bush administration had already admitted that they still would've invaded Iraq even if they knew Saddam didn't have WMD. So the meme of the Bushies invading Iraq for its oil was, as the media at the time had put it, a "conspiracy theory." Even though history would love to "ahem" into its cupped hand and forget that George W. Bush in his trademark telegraphese told the people of Iraq just two days before the invasion, "Do not destroy oil wells."
Problem: Truthout's Jason Leopold says differently in his rough timeline and summary of events.
And sometimes a summary of events in a pseudo-global military campaign such as Iraq's invasion and occupation is necessary. After all, the typical human response to overwhelming, mind-bending, soul-twisting evil is to bow one's head and focus on the pigeon shit and cigarette butts. In a way, being politically uninformed is a blessing because the sheer size, scope and scale, the unimaginable depth, breadth and width of the geopolitical corruption that enfolds us in its leathery, obsidian wings is like trying to see the forest for the trees. The manmade, collusive corruption is so all-pervasive, so rampant, in such a state of unrelieved ubiquity that it has virtually succeeded in supplanting reality.
The true rationale and justification for the invasion of Iraq is a case in point. Many of us weren't even aware until Greg Palast laid it all on the line for us that not only was there a plan for scarfing up Iraq's oil fields in the campaign originally named Operation Iraqi Liberation, but there were two (the State Department's and the neocons'). The only major difference was how much should the oil market be gouged.
And securing Iraq's oil was an obsession that lasted throughout the entire Bush administration, literally from Day One until the bitter end. Alan Greenspan has admitted as much and Bush himself even fessed up in a couple of unguarded moments. But "securing" the oil and natural gas fields of Iraq to both diplomat and PNAC lunatic alike was paramount, with Iraqi sovereignty and independence (which they already had, albeit under a dictatorship), given at best a cursory aside.
Over six years ago, Leopold wrote in Counterpunch that Rumsfeld's Pentagon was working in collusion with Cheney's office to facilitate deals for his cash-strapped and tanking "former" company Halliburton. The 99 page 2001 report (.pdf file), "Strategic Policy Challenges for the 21st Century", was written by two non-official entities, one headed up by James Baker III, at the request of Dick Cheney. One recommendation by the report actually advised that we fuse together energy and national security policies, the first time in history that such an idea had been openly made.
Imagine that. Energy and national security being perfectly synonymous and interchangable like compatible Snap-On tools. But, no, perish the thought. It was never about the oil, you pinko conspiracy theorists. The Republican party just happens to rely on coincidence much moreso and less on conflict of interest than any other political entity on the planet earth.
See? There was never any conflict of interest because under Cheney energy and national security policy had now become one like two unlikely lovers making the two-backed monster for the first time.
“If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks. They’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.” - George W. Bush, August 30, 2005, the day after Katrina made landfall.
Aside from the utterly ridiculous proposition that Islamic terrorists secretly dream of being oil tycoons and assuming their wants are as capitalistic and as grasping as ours, the only President who deserves an asterisk next to his name laid it on the line when he responded to Cindy Sheehan's simple question of, "Why did my boy die?"
But wasn't all about oil profits. It was also about corporate stock worth and tens of billions of dollars in war contracts handed out primarily to Cheney's slimy lapdogs in Halliburton's boardroom. So to say that our rationale for invading Iraq being all about the oil would be to limit one's thinking.
In March of 2001, when the Bush Administration began to have secret meetings with oil company executives from Exxon, Shell and BP, spreading maps of Iraq oil fields before them, the price of oil was $23.96 per barrel. Then there were 63 companies in 30 countries, other than the U.S., competing for oil contracts with Iraq.
Today the price of oil is $135.59 per barrel, the U.S. Army is occupying Iraq and the first Iraq oil contracts will go, without competitive bidding to, surprise, (among a very few others) Exxon, Shell and BP.'
Iraq has between 200 to 300 billion barrels of oil with a market value in the tens of trillions of dollars. And our government is trying to force Iraq not only to privatize its oil, but to accept a long-term U.S. military presence to guard the oil and protect the profits of the oil companies, while Americans pay between $4 and $5 a gallon for gas, and our troops continue dying.- Congressman Dennis Kucinich, 2008
The damnable thing about all this is, it's a win-win situation for the Anglo-American oil companies now flocking back home to roost like oil-soaked Alaskan birds to Capistrano. If Iraqi oil flows from the spigots, they reap the profits. If the oil fields suffer cutbacks in production due to war, they reap even greater benefits as the price skyrockets. And, as suicide bombings and the sudden death and maiming of Iraqi civilians and US troops once again creeps back into the front pages, it's obvious that the security situation will be far from stable as the US tiptoes out of Iraq and thunders its way into Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Thankfully, however, it was never about oil.
"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." - Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.
Mike Flannigan is a longtime investigative political journalist who lives in Wayland, Massachusetts with his wife and four children and regularly checks the underside of his car with a mirror before turning the ignition key.