February 8, 2003
New Iraq Report
Yes, Tony, There is a Conspiracy
by JACOB LEVICH
Here's the prewar zeitgeist in a nutshell: In a widely reported January
16 speech, Tony Blair proclaimed that the impending invasion of Iraq
"has nothing to do with oil, or any of the other conspiracy theories put
One week later, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, quietly passed word to Russia and France that their
countries will be frozen out of staggeringly lucrative postwar oil
contracts unless they roll over and endorse the US attack.
Yes, Tony, there is a conspiracy, in the dictionary sense of the term:
an agreement among people to perform a criminal or wrongful act. It
consists, not of a tiny cabal, but of the whole of the American power
elite, from politicians to business executives to journalists. It has
everything to do with oil. But it is not secret.
The conspirators know they can count on the uncritical support of the
mass media. Therefore knowledge of their cynical motives and thuggish
tactics can be made available in journals and other specialized fora,
all but invisible to most Americans but accessible to the few with
sufficient time and inclination to dig beneath the headlines.
Building on that knowledge, a Mumbai-based independent think tank has
now anatomized the conspiracy behind the coming war and issued a truly
comprehensive explanation of the current global crisis.
Behind the Invasion of Iraq, the startling new book-length report
authored by the Research Unit for Political Economy (RUPE), synthesizes
the seemingly disparate threads of the US war drive in what amounts to a
blistering indictment of American foreign policy. The report (available
on the Web at www.rupe-india.org) is lavishly documented and
jargon-free; the effect, especially for readers with limited
understanding of global commerce and finance, is of puzzle pieces
clicking decisively into place.
The RUPE report wholly confirms the widely-held view of the coming war
as a massive oil grab, "on a scale not witnessed since the days of
colonialism." Further, the current debate about arms inspections and
alleged links to al-Qaeda is revealed as pure political theater, since
the decision to invade Iraq was made months ago.
But seizure of Iraq's multi-trillion-dollar petroleum reserves is only
the immediate goal, the report shows. RUPE's rigorous analysis of
publicly available sources -- including official documents, think-tank
papers, and press reports -- reveals that the US intends to use the
invasion of Iraq as a launching pad for a drastic reshaping of the
Middle East, to be followed by an unprecedented expansion of US power
worldwide. The strategic trend of US foreign policy now points
unmistakably towards global empire.
To be sure, an imperial project on so ambitious a scale entails big
downside risks for the US, including staggering costs, military hazards,
and the disruption of global "stability" (i.e., the dearly-bought
loyalty of US allies and client states.) But the American Establishment
seems prepared to go for broke, and its enthusiastic consensus behind a
naked war of conquest cannot be explained solely by the "cowboy
mentality" that some detect in the White House.
What's really at stake -- and this will come as no surprise to leftists
-- is US control of global markets. The report reveals that the US
economy is now facing a nightmare scenario: A crisis of overproduction
has crippled US GDP, resulting in monstrous trade and budget deficits,
even as a potentially disastrous deflationary spiral appears to be under
Meanwhile, superpower rivals Europe, Russia and China are mounting a
vigorous challenge to US economic preeminence, which is further
threatened by the euro's emergence as a credible alternative to the
dollar as global reserve currency. (All this is exhaustively detailed in
the RUPE report, which draws its most telling evidence from the
mainstream financial press.)
In this context, the US sees confiscation of the world's richest
oil-producing regions as a magic bullet. While securing its own access
to petroleum supplies for the foreseeable future, it can simultaneously
defend dollar hegemony and restructure Middle East markets for the
exclusive benefit of US-based corporations.
Which brings us to the crux: Direct American control of oil would render
any potential challengers for world or regional supremacy perpetually
dependent on US forbearance. In RUPE's words, "once it has seized the
oil wells of west Asia the US will determine not only which firms would
bag the deals, not only the currency in which oil trade would be
denominated, not only the price of oil on the international market,
but even the destination of the oil."
RUPE's argument here is powerful but complex, and this summary is
necessarily an extreme oversimplification. But the overall thrust is
quite clear: The US invasion of Iraq needs to be understood not as an
end in itself but as the means to an end -- the foundation of a New
Needless to say, you won't catch Tony Blair owning up to the war's real
purpose as he flogs it to a skeptical public. But the truth, or
something pretty close to it, is now readily available to anyone who
cares to look.
Jacob Levich , a writer and editor based in Queens, N.Y., assisted RUPE
in researching Behind The Invasion of Iraq -- which is a fancy way of
saying he forwarded several hundred articles to an email address in
Mumbai. He can be reached at: email@example.com