No blood for oil
Source Louis Proyect
Date 04/11/08/23:09

Monthly Review
November 2004, Volume 56 ? Number 6

What was the principal motive for the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Few
informed observers now believe that it was to eliminate Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction. Months before the war in December 2002 we wrote in
these pages: ?Iraq today probably does not possess functional chemical
and biological war capabilities since these were effectively destroyed
during the UN inspection process in 1991?1998.? In early October 2004
Charles Duelfer, the CIA?s top weapons inspector, officially confirmed
in a 918-page report delivered to two Congressional committees that Iraq
had no weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion. All
such ?capabilities,? his report indicated, had been destroyed or had
simply ?decayed? as a result of the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent UN
weapons inspection process. Of course even if it had been shown that
Iraq had such weapons prior to the war this would not have justified the
U.S. invasion, since numerous countries in the Middle East and elsewhere
have weapons of mass destruction with the United States as the world
leader in the possession (and use) of such weapons.

With the original rationale for the war in tatters, the powers that be
have had no choice but to fall back more and more on the default
justification: as is the case with all actions by the United States
throughout its history, the real purpose of the invasion was to promote
democracy. To the utter astonishment of the entire world outside of the
United States and possibly Britain, this fantastic claim (fantastic both
as an interpretation of Washington?s motives and in its assumption that
democracy can be imposed by force) is now proffered with a straight face
by one authority after another and assiduously promoted by the corporate
media. At the same time all suggestions that the United States might
have had more crass imperialistic motives for the invasion, such as
control of Iraqi oil, are systematically avoided by both the government
and the major media.

Yet, however smooth the propaganda machine in a capitalist society, it
is always rife with contradictions since the business class itself is
unable to maintain a common front. Apart from the usual rivalries within
business that lead to quite different stances creating ideological
fissures, the goal of making money requires good information and at
times an almost brutal frankness that frequently goes against the main
ideological requirements of the system. This is particularly the case
for those connected to major investment-banking houses whose job is to
provide information and advice on investment opportunities, pricing
structures, etc. to their largely corporate clientele. Here the ability
to strip away the veil of ideology is often considered a virtue. An
example of such blunt telling-it-how-it-is can be seen in recent
statements by Fadel Gheit, a leading oil analyst for the prestigious
Wall Street firm Oppenheimer and Co. Linda McQuaig tells us in an
article in the September 20, 2004, Toronto Star (based on her new book,
It?s the Crude, Dude) that Gheit simply smiles at the notion that oil
was not a major factor in the invasion of Iraq, and quotes him as
saying: ?Think of Iraq as virgin territory....This is bigger than
anything that Exxon is involved in currently...It is the superstar of
the future. That?s why Iraq becomes the most sought-after real estate on
the face of the earth.? In addition to its own oil, Iraq is
strategically located so that the occupying power is well placed to
dominate the other oil countries of the Middle East. Gheit explains:
?Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve
underneath...You can?t ask for better than that.? And it is not just
direct control of the Middle East that is at issue, since other regions
such as Europe, Japan and China would be vulnerable to any power that
has military, economic and political ascendance over the Middle East and
its oil.

It is not difficult to demonstrate that this is the primary lens through
which Iraq is viewed by those in the Bush administration. None other
than Dick Cheney delivered a talk to the London Petroleum Institute in
1999 when he was still CEO of Halliburton. Focusing on the additional 50
million barrels of oil a day that the world was projected to need by
2010, he asked rhetorically, ?Where is it going to come from?? His
answer was that ?the Middle East with two-thirds of the world?s oil and
the lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies.?

U.S. corporate interests and the U.S. government have never been shy
about explaining?at least within business circles?their postwar economic
goals for Iraq, which were to start with a ?Mass Privatization Program.?
Robert Ebel, former vice president of a Dutch-based oil exploration
company, now connected to the influential Washington-based Center for
Strategic and International Studies, makes it clear that U.S.
corporations are prepared to invest tens of billions of dollars in Iraq
and are insisting that Iraqi oil be privatized. ?We?re looking for
places to invest around the world. You know, along comes Iraq, and I
think a lot of oil companies would be disappointed if Iraq were to say
?we?re going to do it ourselves.?? (These statements and other
supporting information can be found in McQuaig?s book.)

If the war had gone as planned the United States would have seized what
control it wanted and few questions would have been asked. As it is, the
Iraqis have launched a ferocious guerrilla war and the United States is
now in the odd position of pretending it is promoting democracy and free
elections in a country where practically the only place where the
government is in control and where elections can be held is on the very
ground that the U.S. military is standing on. Hence, the claim that the
U.S, invasion and occupation of Iraq has something to do with the
promotion of democracy is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain
even at the heart of the U.S. empire and with the help of the most
sophisticated propaganda machine that the world has ever seen. It is
becoming more and more obvious as the antiwar movement originally
claimed (though often mocked by establishment experts for being too
simplistic) that all the blood shed in the war has been about oil,
money, and power?and nothing else. It is capitalism and imperialism not
security and democracy that the United States is seeking to promote in Iraq.

Given all of this, the responsibility of those of us on the left is
clear: to get this message out in the clearest and strongest way
possible with the object of stopping the new imperialist engine in its

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