Blood For Oil
by Jeff Dinelli
Riveted to HBO's brilliant docudrama series "Generation Kill" for the last two weeks, it's brought me back to the original build-up and initial invasion of Iraq. The days of yelling, "IRAQ?? What the hell are we doing?" Remembering those feelings and watching the young Marines crossing the border into Saddam Hussein's country with no air cover or tank assistance has made for quite an emotional viewing experience.
The announcement a few weeks ago of a deal being worked out between the Iraq Oil Ministry and Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP (original partners decades ago in the Iraq Petroleum Company, now joined by Chevron and other smaller oil companies) raises some serious questions about the nature of the invasion. Questions that should be raised and discussed by Obama, McCain, Congress, Americans everywhere, and the Iraqi people, who have no say in the future of their country.
These four companies got no-bid contracts, skipping right over 40-some others, including some in Russia, India and China. "There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract," Andrew E. Kramer wrote in the New York Times.
"Suspicion" is an understatement. Surely the military occupation is secretly setting up the hated Iraq Petroleum Company, which, as Seamus Milne of the Guardian points out, was put into place during British rule to "dine off Iraq's wealth in a famously exploitative deal."
Obviously the demand is great, and is there a bigger oil reserve anywhere on the globe, that is as easy to extract, as Iraq? No deep-sea drilling, no tar or ice to drill through, and we set up permanent military bases right there. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Saddam and bin Laden hand-in-hand? It would be laughable if not for all the senseless killings of our children in the name of easy oil.
None of this is new, but remember Bush and al-Maliki agreeing on that Declaration of Principles, which was signed without the approval of Congress, the Iraqi Parliment, or anyone else? Now we have gigantic military airports, the so-called embassy, which is basically one of the largest cities in the country. We have the understanding that Iraqi oil is to be open to investment, "especially American investments" is how the Declaration unbelievably reads. There can be no question as to why we invaded that country.
Bush's signing statement in January that he would bypass any Congressional rules keeping the U.S. from establishing any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq" or "to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq" was illegal and violated Constitutional separation of powers. He pulled that one right out of his ass and got away with it, despite protests from the American Bar Association and Iraqi unions, which somehow still survive.
The United States has committed an international war crime in Iraq, one which has taken the lives of thousands of American troops and untold numbers of innocent Iraqi civilians. "Generation Kill" is a great reminder of the chaos that surrounded the initial invasion, from the perspective of the troops who risked, and often lost, their lives. It's a good time to remind ourselves what the reason was behind this tragic policy, and to demand that the two guys running for president not only acknowledge this fact, but explain to us how they would get our kids out of there.
Nobody should have to die over oil.