Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.
It has been 10 years since Operation Iraqi Freedom’s bombs first landed in Baghdad. And while most of the U.S.-led coalition forces have long since gone, Western oil companies are only getting started.
Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms.Advertisement
From ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West’s largest oil companies have set up shop in Iraq. So have a slew of American oil service companies, including Halliburton, the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.
The war is the one and only reason for this long sought and newly acquired access.
Oil was not the only goal of the Iraq War, but it was certainly the central one, as top U.S. military and political figures have attested to in the years following the invasion.
“Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”
For the first time in about 30 years, Western oil companies are exploring for and producing oil in Iraq from some of the world’s largest oil fields and reaping enormous profit. And while the U.S. has also maintained a fairly consistent level of Iraq oil imports since the invasion, the benefits are not finding their way through Iraq’s economy or society.
These outcomes were by design, the result of a decade of U.S. government and oil company pressure. In 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.” Today it does.
In 2000, Big Oil, including Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell, spent more money to get fellow oilmen Bush and Cheney into office than they had spent on any previous election. Just over a week into Bush’s first term, their efforts paid off when the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Cheney, was formed, bringing the administration and the oil companies together to plot our collective energy future. In March, the task force reviewed lists and maps outlining Iraq’s entire oil productive capacity.
Planning for a military invasion was soon under way. Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, said in 2004, “Already by February (2001), the talk was mostly about logistics. Not the why (to invade Iraq), but the how and how quickly.”
In its final report in May 2001 (PDF), the task force argued that Middle Eastern countries should be urged “to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment.” This is precisely what has been achieved in Iraq.
Here’s how they did it.
The State Department Future of Iraq Project’s Oil and Energy Working Group met from February 2002 to April 2003 and agreed that Iraq “should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war.”
The list of the group’s members was not made public, but Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum – who was appointed Iraq’s oil minister by the U.S. occupation government in September 2003 – was part of the group, according to Greg Muttitt, a journalist and author of “Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq.” Bahr al-Uloum promptly set about trying to implement the group’s objectives.
At the same time, representatives from ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Halliburton, among others, met with Cheney’s staff in January 2003 to discuss plans for Iraq’s postwar industry. For the next decade, former and current executives of western oil companies acted first as administrators of Iraq’s oil ministry and then as “advisers” to the Iraqi government.
Before the invasion, there were just two things standing in the way of Western oil companies operating in Iraq: Saddam Hussein and the nation’s legal system. The invasion dealt handily with Hussein. To address the latter problem, some both inside and outside of the Bush administration argued that it should simply change Iraq’s oil laws through the U.S.-led coalition government of Iraq, which ran the country from April 2003 to June 2004. Instead the White House waited, choosing to pressure the newly elected Iraqi government to pass new oil legislation itself.
This Iraq Hydrocarbons Law, partially drafted by the Western oil industry, would lock the nation into private foreign investment under the most corporate-friendly terms. The Bush administration pushed the Iraqi government both publicly and privately to pass the law. And in January 2007, as the ”surge” of 20,000 additional American troops was being finalized, the president set specific benchmarks for the Iraqi government, including the passage of new oil legislation to “promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.”
But due to enormous public opposition and a recalcitrant parliament, the central Iraqi government has failed to pass the Hydrocarbons Law. Usama al-Nujeyfi, a member of the parliamentary energy committee, even quit in protest over the law, saying it would cede too much control to global companies and “ruin the country’s future.”
In 2008, with the likelihood of the law’s passage and the prospect of continued foreign military occupation dimming as elections loomed in the U.S. and Iraq, the oil companies settled on a different track.
Bypassing parliament, the firms started signing contracts that provide all of the access and most of the favorable treatment the Hydrocarbons Law would provide – and the Bush administration helped draft the model contracts.
Upon leaving office, Bush and Obama administration officials have even worked for oil companies as advisers on their Iraq endeavors. For example, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad’s company, CMX-Gryphon, “provides international oil companies and multinationals with unparalleled access, insight and knowledge on Iraq.”
The new contracts lack the security a new legal structure would grant, and Iraqi lawmakers have argued that they run contrary to existing law, which requires government control, operation and ownership of Iraq’s oil sector.
But the contracts do achieve the key goal of the Cheney energy task force: all but privatizing the Iraqi oil sector and opening it to private foreign companies.
They also provide exceptionally long contract terms and high ownership stakes and eliminate requirements that Iraq’s oil stay in Iraq, that companies invest earnings in the local economy or hire a majority of local workers.
Iraq’s oil production has increased by more than 40% in the past five years to 3 million barrels of oil a day (still below the 1979 high of 3.5 million set by Iraq’s state-owned companies), but a full 80% of this is being exported out of the country while Iraqis struggle to meet basic energy consumption needs. GDP per capita has increased significantly yet remains among the lowest in the world and well below some of Iraq’s other oil-rich neighbors. Basic services such as water and electricity remain luxuries, while 25% of the population lives in poverty.
The promise of new energy-related jobs across the country has yet to materialize. The oil and gas sectors today account directly for less than 2% of total employment, as foreign companies rely instead on imported labor.
In just the last few weeks, more than 1,000 people have protested at ExxonMobil and Russia Lukoil’s super-giant West Qurna oil field, demanding jobs and payment for private land that has been lost or damaged by oil operations. The Iraqi military was called in to respond.
Fed up with the firms, a leading coalition of Iraqi civil society groups and trade unions, including oil workers, declared on February 15 that international oil companies have “taken the place of foreign troops in compromising Iraqi sovereignty” and should “set a timetable for withdrawal.”
Closer to home, at a protest at Chevron’s Houston headquarters in 2010, former U.S. Army Military Intelligence officer Thomas Buonomo, member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, held up a sign that read, “Dear Chevron: Thank you for dishonoring our service” (PDF).
Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with losers: the Iraqi people and all those who spilled and lost blood so that Big Oil could come out ahead.
Can China win an arms race with the United States?
Let’s do some back of the envelop calculation.
China is 18 percent of humanity. It is responsible for 12 percent of global defense spending.
The United States is 4 percent of humanity. It is responsible for 40 percent of global defense spending.
Put another way, the average American spends 15x as much as the average Chinese on the military.
China pleads no contest. It is not playing in the same sandbox as America.
In fact, no one else has the bombastic capability to define national security as the known world.
In korea, one american died in exchange for 30 commie lives.
In Vietnam, one american died in exchange for 18 commie lives.
Napalm as a wmd saw widespread application in korea, while agent orange made its entrance in Vietnam, along with more napalm. MacArthur even threatened China with nuclear devastation.
Enemy commies (including civilians) were slaughtered and maimed in the most inhumane ways in both wars.
China says, never again.
Commies are human too. If we ever step into the ring again, we will not be the flyweight unable to land punches on the heavyweight because the reach is too short.
China considers arms a waste of economic resource. That is why it has a small nuclear arsenal. But it has spent decades patiently upgrading the range and accuracy of its conventional arms when it could afford to, and prevent a repeat of Korea.
American leaders must be convinced that if they choose to make the Chinese bleed on the battlefield, Americans will bleed like pigs too. The odds will not be skewed in their favor anymore, because the Chinese pack just as mean a punch.
Will America go to war or risk war at 1:1 or 1:2 casualty odds?
China’s “arms race” is nothing more than an exercise in deterring the enemy at the gates from thinking they are facing goat herders.
In other words, practicing Sun Tzu’s highest form of warfare.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
Note: China is putting a stop to American hegemony in and around China, and not threatening American sovereignty across the pacific.15.5K viewsView 334 upvotesView shares334
Stephen Kinzer (born August 4, 1951) is an American author, journalist and academic. He was a New York Times correspondent, has published several books, and currently writes for several newspapers and news agencies.
Kinzer’s reporting on Central America was criticized by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent, which cited Chomsky in his previous interview by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting describing Kinzer as:
“…like an errand boy, building up those stories that fit in with Reagan’s agenda – one day it’s the church, the next day it’s the Miskitos, then the private sector. In the last two weeks I’ve seen eight articles by Kinzer that say exactly what the White House wants. Kinzer always raises questions about Sandinista intentions, whether they’re truly democratic, and so on. When you analyse his articles you see he’s just responding what the White House is saying.”
How did Great Britain rule the World?
fought until 1799 followed by clashes
with the ponderous attacks on places
like Sindh and Burma also accelerated
the new consolidation efforts of the
British East India Company on top of
what was referred to as the doctrine
lapse where the Brits forbid the
ascension to the throne of any Hindu
ruler if they were not the natural heir
once the current Hindu leader either
died or was removed in some way the
British would occupy his state and gain
control these acts by the British Empire
combined with other forms of forced
westernization of the Hindus led to the
Sepoy mutiny of 1857 to 1815
tired of the current heavy-handed
British rule the Indian troops of Maru
sparked a rebellion that would spread
throughout the nation peace was finally
declared in July of 1859 and the British
East India Company was scrapped
although the Empire maintained a level
of control under the crown until 1947
during this span of time Great Britain’s
set about making its presence better
known in Africa as well although the
Royal African company had been
established back in the 17th century
finding ample profit in the slave trade
until its abolition in 1807 it was not
until the 19th century that the Brits
realized the potential benefit of
forming a trade route across Africa with
its eyes set on establishing outposts
spanning from Egypt down to the southern
half of the continent the British Empire
found itself in a race against the other
growing European powers such as Italy
and Germany which eventually led to the
Berlin conference the conference which
occurred in 1884 was intended to create
some harmony between the competing
colonizers Great Britain was ultimately
awarded most of northeastern Africa and
all of southern Africa meaning that at
its peak in the continent the British
Empire ruled over approximately 30
percent of the African population
globally at the height of britain’s
domination it controlled roughly 22 to
25 percent of the world’s land surface
and by 1938 governed around 20% of the
world’s population this remarkable
prosperity was accomplished through a
geographical advantage supreme naval
might and the strategic focus on trade
and wealth over bullish sovereign power
for the sake of an emperor
the dead man explodes head off paneer so
important and why
Conversation with Noam Chompsky
In a rare, candid conversation, Abby Martin interviews a former Israeli Army combat soldier who served as an occupier in Palestine’s Hebron City. Eran Efrati spent years as a sergeant and combat soldier in the Israeli military, but has since become an outspoken critic of the occupation of Palestine and Israeli apartheid.
Efrati gives explosive testimony on the reality of his service and explains how war crimes are institutionalized, as well as how systematic the oppression against Palestinians really is in a war of conquest that will no-doubt be accelerated under the Trump Administration.