Sunday, September 23, 2007

The True Definition of Victory in Iraq

George Lakoff has posted a must-read article on the implications of Alan Greenspan's admission that the war in Iraq wasn't started because of any imminent threat from Saddam Hussein. Greenspan's quote has gotten some press, but not as much as it deserves.

The former head of the Federal Reserve writes in his memoir, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." Greenspan even advised Bush that "taking Saddam Hussein out was essential" to protect oil supplies.

Okay, we knew that, but having it spelled out in black and white is still rather chilling. One reason why Greenspan's comments haven't been a bigger story is because the press is also downplaying a story that would tie it all together: The Iraq Oil Law.

The contracts the Bush administration has been pushing the Iraqi government to accept are not just about the distribution of oil among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The contracts call for 30-year exclusive rights for British and American oil companies, rights that cannot be revoked by future Iraqi governments. They are called "production sharing agreements" (or "PSA's") - a legalistic code word. The Iraqi government would technically own the oil, but could not control it; only the companies could do that. Exxon Mobil and others would invest in developing the infrastructure for the oil (drilling, oil rigs, refining) and would get 75 percent of the "cost oil" profits, until they got their investment back. After that, they would own the infrastructure (paid for by oil profits), and then get 20 percent of oil profits after that (twice the usual rate). The profits are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And the Iraqi people would have no democratic control over their own major resource. No other Middle East country has such an arrangement.

Yes, this is ultimate goal in Iraq - not the defeat of terrorism, not the spread of democracy, not the neutralization of weapons of mass destruction. Those were just the shifting sands of rationale to cover our real purpose for the invasion - the control of Iraq's oil reserves.

You won't read much about the oil law in U.S. press. The above quote was from a Pakistani newspaper. The MSM here is too busy chasing it's tail over the surge/son of surge/drawdown of surge and the 24-hour hype over the MoveOn ad to actually fuss with something as arcane as a piece of Iraqi legislation. But read the law, read an analysis by someone other than an oil industry representative, and tell me that it doesn't tie everything up neat as a Christmas package. As Lakoff notes:
What is most frightening is they may mean what they say, that they may have a concept of "victory" that makes sense to them but not to the rest of the country. If the goal of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been to guarantee access to Iraqi oil for the next 30 years, then any result guaranteeing oil profits for American oil companies would count as "victory." Suppose the present killing and chaos were to continue, forcing us to keep our troops there indefinitely, but allowing the oil companies to prosper under our protection. That would be a "victory." Or, if the Iraqi army and police force were to develop in a few years and keep order there protecting American investments and workers, that too would be "victory." If the country broke up into three distinct states or autonomous governments, that too would be "victory" as long as oil profits were guaranteed and Americans in the oil industry protected. And it doesn't matter if a Republican president keeps the troops there or a Democratic president does. It is still an oil company "victory" - and a victory for Bush.
Bingo.

The first company to bear the fruits of this sweet victory is actually based here in Dallas: Hunt Oil. In a press release earlier this month, the company announced what has proven to be a very controversial agreement with Kurdistan to develop fields in Northern Iraq.

As Paul Krugman observed in The New York Times on September 14, "the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body." Hunt Oil seems to have had the first taste of "victory."

Apparently, we're fighting them over there so we can import their oil over here.

1 comment:

J C Grobler said...

This is a chilling idea as it not only explains the motivation for the Iraq invasion but because it inevitably points at an assault on Iran. Iraq did not have a significant impact on the rest of the world due to the international boycott which crippled its oil production. Iran is however another matter. Just think of the fuel crisis in 1976. Interesting reading on this subject can also be found in David Strahan's "The Last Oil Shock".