The Oil Occupation: From the Empire and Inequality Report

Here (pasted in below*) are some reflections on the critical role of oil in the imperialist occupation of Iraq.  They are from the latest issue (the sixth so far) of my widlly popular Empire and Inequality Report.  They may provide some useful background for the Idiot in Chief's address tonight, when The Decider will patiently explain the need for an escalation of the mass-murderous assault on just incidentally (sure) hydrocarbon-rich Mesopetrolia. He will not be deterred by a little technicality: it's an illegal war that we the people hate and which is now opposed by most activie duty military personnel. 
Please note that I call at the end of the selection for a great rebellion and even perhaps (imagine) a revolution in the United States. Impeachment isn't enough, I'm afraid. It took an entire miltitantly hiearchical and societal village to grow a George W. Bush. 
Nonetheless, my next Empire and Inequality Report (tentativelly titled "The Imperial Lexicon") will make the frankly slam-dunk case for impeachment.  It will also examine the Orwellian perversion of United States public discourse surrounding the war on Iraq. Look for a piece on ZNet's main page (I'll link it after it goes up) by me tomorrow on military opposition to the war. Any reader who wants to receive Empire and Inequality Reports (not for power-worshipping liberal wimps) on a regular basis should write me at the e-mail address given below.

Yesterday I watched the state capitalist Evening News on General Electric Television (NBC). I sat slack-jawed in wondrous amazement at dominant media's boot-licking fealty to the messianic militarist Liar-in-Chief. So what if the people loathe the Worst President Ever and oppose his criminal, racist war? The forthcoming SURGE was reported in respectable Orwellian fashion as a reasonable fait accompli that only some whiney latte-sipping liberal Democrats oppose. Never mind the silly opinions and values of the mere citizenry of the U.S. or for that matter the irrelevant people of "liberated" Iraq. "The president," one correspondent told anchorman Brian Williams, needs "to educate the American people" on the "real situation" in Iraq and why the SURGE (a funny name for an ESCALATION) is required. Our arch-criminal DEAR LEADER will use prime tiem war media get to instruct us poor little policy spectators tomorrow night.

May God have mercy on us if we let this president stand for two more years.

* Here (finally) is the selection I mentioned at the start:
From "Happy Imperial New Year:" The Empire and Inequality Report, Issue 6 (January 6, 2007)    
…..And we have the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) Report, which provides welcome political cover for imperialists of both business parties by pushing the big Iraq decisions on to the next White House. The authors of the ISG’s 79 recommendations are content to let untold thousands of American soldiers and Iraqis die for Bush’s lies and “mistakes” (well, crimes). They leave the door open to permanent U.S. military bases (if the captive Iraqi government “requests” them from its colonial masters). 
They also recommend the passage of an Iraqi Petroleum Law that will hand the invaded nation’s vast petroleum assets (what the ISG pointedly identifies as “the world’s second largest known oil reserves”) over to predominantly American multinational corporations (see Antonia Juhasz, “Spoils of War: Oil, the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area and the Bush Agenda,” In These Times, January 2007). As Mark Lannery, oil analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston told MSNBC in November of 2002: “[If] it’s your tanks that dislodged the regime and you have 50,000 troops in the country…then you’re going to get the best deals.  That’s the way it works.  The French will have [a few] men and a 1950s tank” (MSNBC 11/11/02, quoted in Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You [New York, NY: Context Books, 2003], p. 111).
The ISG Report’s release was a good time to review the “real reason for the invasion.” As Chomsky notes:
“ Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, very cheap to exploit, and lies right at the heart of the world’s major hydrocarbon resources, what the State Department 60 years ago described as ‘a stupendous source of strategic power.’ The issue is not access but rather control (and for the energy corporations, profit).  Control over these resources gives the U.S. ‘critical leverage’ over industrial rivals, to borrow Zbigniew Brezinski’s phrase, echoing George Kennan when he was a leading planner and recognized that such control would give the U.S. ‘veto power’ over others. Dick Cheney observed that control over energy resources provides ‘tools of intimidation or blackmail’ – when in the hands of others that is.  We are too pure and noble for those consideration to apply to us, so true believers declare – or more accurately, just presuppose, taking the point to be too obvious to articulate” (Chomsky, “Iraq”).
After 1991, it is worth recalling, U.S. oil firms were “prohibited from investing in or buying Iraqi oil, except as approved under the United Nations oil-for-food program.” As Reese Erlich noted in early 2003, “this frustrated U.S. oil executives, who saw lucrative contracts going to companies based in countries where the government had no political conflict in Iraq” (Solomon and Erlich, p. 110).
As Antonia Juhasz noted in the most recent issue of In These Times, “planning to secure Iraq’s oil for U.S. companies began on the tenth day of the Bush presidency, when the Vice President Dick Cheney established the National Energy policy Development Group…It produced two lists, titled ‘Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts as of 5 March 2001,’ which named more than 60 companies from some 30 countries with contracts for oil and gas projects across Iraq – none of which were with American firms.  If the sanctions were removed – which was becoming increasingly likely as public opinion turned against the sanctions and Hussein remained in power – the contracts would go to all of those foreign oil companies and the U.s. oil industry would be shut out…Two months after the invasion of Iraq, in May 2003, the U.S.-appointed senior advisor to the Iraqi Oil ministry, Thamer al-Ghadban, announced that the Iraqi government would honor few, if any, of the dozens of contracts signed with foreign companies under the Hussein regime” (Juhasz, “Spoils of War”). 
Dominant U.S. media has consistently joined the Cheney-Bush administration in denying the critical oil motivations behind Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.) while dutifully transmitting the preposterous Weapons of Mass Destruction claims and the related, equally ludicrous claims of a Saddam-al Qaeda link, and the frankly childish claims of America’s interest in democracy promotion (see Paul Street, “Bedtime Stories for the Bewildered Herd: Iraq War Fairy Tales in the Age of Never Mind Media,” Z Magazine, January 2006).
Curiously enough, that same media has long claimed that petroleum concerns determine the policies of other countries regarding Iraq .  As Erlich noted on the eve of the launching of O.I.L., “oil considerations certainly can determine political decisions by other governments, but according to the mainstream media, Bush administration ties to the oil industry are irrelevant. This is all the more curious when we bear in mind that George W. Bush ran an oil company, Vice President Dick Cheney was the CEO of the oil equipment corporation Haliburton, and National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice served as a member of Chevron’s board of directors.” (Solomon and Erlich, p. 109). 
Prior to joining the Republican presidential ticket in 2000, Cheney was so concerned over the “oil for food” restrictions on U.S. corporate petro-profits that he actually called for an end to sanctions against Iraq .   
It is by no means an accidental coincidence that the ISG report recommends the long-term presence of significant U.S. military forces in and around Iraq .  Once leading U.S. oil companies attain their prized post-invasion Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), they will obviously require armed imperial protection from that great global petroleum security service called the US Armed Force. The fact that Iraq is a war-ravaged Hell will buttress the self-fulfilling imperialist case for giving them the petro-colonial shield that only the Pentagon can provide (see Juhasz, “Spoils”).
The "Beacon to the World of the Way Life Should Be" (as U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson once described the United States ) appears to need more than the mere impeachment and removal of Cheney-Bush.  It requires a great democratic political and social rebellion, maybe even (imagine) a revolution against the deeply rooted, richly authoritarian and thoroughly bipartisan regime of Empire, Oil, Ecocide and Inequality, Inc.  ……
The Empire and Inequality Report is a bi-weekly news and commentary letter produced by veteran radical historian, journalist, and activist Paul Street ([email protected]), a noted anti-centrist political commentator located in the Midwestern center of the U.S. Street is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005), and Still Separate, Unequal: Race, Place, and Policy in Chicago (Chicago, 2005) Street’s next book is Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (New York, 2007

Leave a comment