What is the Mission?
Was it knee-jerk to ever claim that it’s all about oil? In the lead-up to the invasion, it didn’t seem that simple. The agenda of the neo-cons, Bu$hCo and garden variety war-hawks varied, and controlling Iraq‘s oil was only a part of Bu$hCo’s agenda. But perhaps all that has changed and now it’s only about the oil.
We know that the invasion was planned well enough that the oil fields and Ministry of Oil were secured while the alleged WMD sites and Baghdad Museum weren’t. Definitely suggesting that Iraq’s oil didn’t play a minor role in Bu$hCo’s agenda from the beginning. But could it have been more central than even I allowed at the time?
Were all the promises that the invasion would be swift and cheap predicated on Chalabi moving into Saddam’s palaces? If so, maybe Bu$hCo was duped by Chalabi. Like Democrats that were duped into the great WMD hoax, maybe Bu$hCo bought that Chalabi could assume power with no objection from the Iraqis. Guess they forgot to take notice of the fact that Chalabi (makes the skin crawl of a normal human being) wasn’t a Sunni and the Sunnis had the weapons. Or maybe they considered that irrelevant. Expecting the people of Iraq to be so happy that Saddam was ousted (GWB’s vision of munchkins singing “ding-dong Saddam is gone” and advising US soldiers to “follow the yellowcake road“) that they wouldn’t notice the installation of a US puppet. When they did before Bu$hCo had secured the prizes, Bu$hCo was stuck without a Plan B and have been winging it since then. Slowly paring the list of prizes they expected to win until the bar was lowered to a single prize, oil.
Substituting Allawi for Chalabi worked somewhat better. In spite of either Bu$hCo’s or Chalabi’s attempts to whitewash Chalabi as a tool of the US, Chalabi has yet to emerge as the face of the “new Iraq” (how can anyone look at him and not have their skin crawl?), but he continues to lurk, plot and dream that his time will come. Now Bu$hCo is just holding on and hoping that Chalabi and Allawi get enough power in the paramilitary elections to hand them the prize.
In the interim, US oil companies have been busy. Providing free advice to the Oil Ministry. Recommending “production sharing contracts,” (PSAs), preferably long-term. These are a frequent method used by oil companies to get control of oil resources. And are attractive to countries with limited financial resources and undeveloped oil production facilities, primarily when the cost of extraction is high. It also means that the oil companies reap profits far in excess of those they get from regular contracts (greater rewards for greater risks). A lot more. Instead of the usual 12%, they can get anywhere from 40% to 160% depending upon how much it costs to get the oil out of the ground, known as “below ground risks.” The oil companies’ pitch in Iraq for why they must use PSAs is that while the “below ground risks” are low (non-existent), the above ground risks (security) are high. (They must think that they are dealing with bumpkins. Or GWB.)
Let’s say for a moment that the new government signs the contracts the oil companies want. Then GWB can say, “Democracy has been established and we’re out of there.” (Yeah, he’ll have to give up on those permanent bases, but he’s got an election coming up and still has “destroy Social Security” on his “to do” list). But will it be so?
First they’ll pull the National Guard units out and ship them home. Thus reducing a major chunk of the dissent on the home front. Then they’ll do roughly what Murtha recommends by pulling the troops back to other Mid-East staging areas. Finally, the DOD contracted private “security” forces will be moved to protect the oil fields. “Our oil.” If private “guards” and whatever security Iraqis and the government can be hired (bribed) to supply are insufficient, the US will bomb. If that’s not enough, troops will be moved in to protect “our oil,” and a majority in the US will not object to what we, after all, purchased “legitimately.”
All hell can break lose throughout Iraq, but as long as the oil fields are secure, the blame can be laid on the Iraqis and the American “cut and run” crowd for the mess. Neither respected the gift of democracy that GWB tried so hard to give Iraq. That’s a twofer for the GOP.
It would be a terrible resolution for Iraq. It will confirm for people around the world that we did indeed want to steal their oil. But Americans won’t see it that way. Will remain perplexed as to why they hate us.
It, however, could be very good for GWB. Just enough to retain control of Congress through 2008. It would also be good for the oil companies and Saudi Arabia. The high profits (and undefined US political situation after 2008) would be all the incentive they need to pump Iraq oil as fast as possible. That would allow Saudi Arabia to cut back on production and save their oil for later. In 2009, they’ll hand the whole mess over to some Democratic wimp that will “stay the course.” After all, Democrats are so fearful of the political ramifications of appearing weak on terrorism that they will try to do something about it. OTOH, Bu$hCo, the oil companies and the Saudis know that al Qaeda and OBL are thugs with very little power and resources to do more than blow up something every once in a while. They appreciate that no security effort can do much to stop them; that the risk of another large attack is far below that of another Katrina. Therefore, they don’t bother. Why waste time, energy and money on an impossible task when simply declaring “me tougher on terrorists” sells so easily? (Has there ever been a con job that worked as well as this one and simultaneously tied up your opponent in knots?)
The Sunnis are basically screwed. They are too divided between secularists and Islamacists to get enough power even if they turn out in massive numbers on election day. Those they elect are probably more likely to form voting alliances with Shia groups than they are to form a Sunni bloc. (Apparently this hasn‘t gone unnoticed in the Sunni communities since one of the leading Sunni Muslim candidates was gunned down today.) As the Sunnis will not be able to prevent the US oil grab, the only other influence that could derail the latest best hope of Bu$hCo is Iran. While the oil company advisors are walking in the front door of the Oil Ministry, the Iranian advisors may be using the back channels. As bad as the regime in Iran is for the people of that country, it’s better than the Saudis. Iranians weren’t on those planes on 9/11 and there is no love between the Persians and OBL. If Americans could stop accepting the cheap oil bribe from the Saudis, they just might notice that the Saudis encourage Bu$hCo and OBL (the better to keep them distracted and out of Saudi Arabia).
And the winner is? Religious nutcases. GWB and OBL or the Iranian friendly Shia. Not the most difficult choice in the world. (Of course, that assumes that this country can get beyond the DC true bipartisan sport of threatening and demonizing Iran.)