|from Sunday Herald (UK)
Official: US oil at the heart of Iraq crisis
By Neil Mackay
President Bush's Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that 'Iraq remains a
destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the
Middle East' and because this is an unacceptable risk to the US 'military
intervention' is necessary.
Vice-president Dick Cheney, who chairs the White House Energy Policy
Development Group, commissioned a report on 'energy security' from the Baker
Institute for Public Policy, a think-tank set up by James Baker, the former
US secretary of state under George Bush Snr.
The report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century,
concludes: 'The United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq
remains a de- stabilising influence to ... the flow of oil to international
markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a
willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export
programme to manipulate oil markets. Therefore the US should conduct an
immediate policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and
political/ diplomatic assessments.
'The United States should then develop an integrated strategy with key
allies in Europe and Asia, and with key countries in the Middle East, to
restate goals with respect to Iraqi policy and to restore a cohesive
coalition of key allies.'
Baker who delivered the recommendations to Cheney, the former chief
executive of Texas oil firm Halliburton, was advised by Kenneth Lay, the
disgraced former chief executive of Enron, the US energy giant which went
bankrupt after carrying out massive accountancy fraud.
The other advisers to Baker were: Luis Giusti, a Shell non-executive
director; John Manzoni, regional president of BP and David O'Reilly, chief
executive of ChevronTexaco. Another name linked to the document is Sheikh
Saud Al Nasser Al Sabah, the former Kuwaiti oil minister and a fellow of the
President Bush also has strong connections to the US oil industry and once
owned the oil company Spectrum 7.
The Baker report highlights massive shortages in world oil supplies which
now leave the US facing 'unprecedented energy price volatility' and has led
to recurring electricity black-outs in areas such as California.
The report refers to the impact of fuel shortages on voters. It recommends a
'new and viable US energy policy central to America's domestic economy and
to [the] nation's security and foreign policy'.
Iraq, the report says, 'turns its taps on and off when it has felt such
action was in its strategic interest to do so', adding that there is a
'possibility that Saddam Hussein may remove Iraqi oil from the market for an
extended period of time' in order to damage prices.
The report also says that Cheney should integrate energy and security to
stop 'manipulations of markets by any state', and suggests that Cheney's
Energy Policy Group includes 'representation from the Department of
'Unless the United States assumes a leadership role in the formation of new
rules of the game,' the report says, 'US firms, US consumers and the US
government [will be left] in a weaker position.'