by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
September 21, 2007
OUR 'VITAL' NATIONAL INTEREST IN IRAQ? OIL, OIL, OIL
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- In his new book, "The Age of Turbulence," former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan departed from the Bush Administration's script and wrote that "the Iraq war is largely about oil."
Of course, Greenspan immediately had to backpedal from that statement. Despite the fact that nearly everyone in the world knows that control of Iraq's oil reserves was one of the main reasons for the U.S. invasion, public officials still have to feign shock and outrage when someone says it.
President George W. Bush certainly wants us to keep pretending that oil has nothing to do with the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Last week, Mr. Bush said that Iraqi leaders "have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops."
"Our interests" in the region can be summed up in one single three letter word: oil.
When you hear the President and his staff talk about "our assets in the region," the ones that need to be protected, they are talking about dozens of military bases built to protect our access to the region's oil, including the permanent bases that have been built in Iraq.
The U.S. military has served as the security force to ensure the flow of crude oil from the Persian Gulf for decades. It is the stated policy of the United States that nothing is to interfere with the flow of oil from the region and that any interference is to be treated as a direct threat to our national security.
The invasion of Iraq was part of that policy. As investigative journalist Greg Palast ably outlined in his recent book, "Armed Madhouse," the neocons at the Project for a New American Century - the think tank that created much of the Bush Administration's foreign policy - prepared a 101-page plan for transforming Iraq into a free market paradise after the invasion.
Hyperbole? The plan called for the sale of Iraq's infrastructure and its state-run companies to foreign corporations, complete deregulation of Iraq's industries and a rewrite of the tax laws to make Iraq a more business-friendly place. In other words, privatization at gunpoint.
Remember how we were told that the war would finance itself? The oil revenues that Iraq would generate would pay for the invasion and reconstruction, the war planners told us. That turned out to be as much of a lie as our bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.
Remember how quickly Gen. Jay Garner was sacked from his position as the U.S. viceroy in Iraq in April 2003? That was because he was more interested in helping set up a new government that represented the will of the Iraqi people. Doing that, however, would have meant the end of the grand privatization plan. So Garner was fired.
Garner was replaced by Paul Bremer, who agreed to follow the PNAC script. The problem was that the script called for denying Iraqis a say in the rebuilding of their country. It helped fuel the insurgency that has killed thousands of Americans and more than a million Iraqis over the past four years.
And the kicker to all this is that Iraq's oil industry still hasn't been privatized and is producing less oil than before the war. That's why the United States has been so adamant about the Iraqi government, such as it is, approving an agreement that would not only equitably split oil revenues between the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, but give the big oil companies a much larger cut of the profits.
That agreement has not been reached. There are no signs it will be reached. If you were sitting on a commodity that the whole world wants and will pay dearly for, would you give it away?
The story of how the Bush Administration and its allies in the oil industry sought to control Iraq's oil is a long and convoluted one. It's certainly a story that the President doesn't want to talk about, but it is one has to be acknowledged.
As long as America is totally dependent on oil for its economic survival, our soldiers are going to be in the Middle East. As oil becomes a more scarce and expensive commodity, there will be more wars fought over it. It is disingenuous for the people running this nation to deny this.
Unfortunately, they still do.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Sleds Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.