First in the War, Then in the Oil Grab
First in the War, Then in the Oil Grab
The US Congress has gone beyond compliance with George Bush's illegal war, and is now technically an accomplice-it is assisting with full knowledge in the perpetration of a crime. Congress has attained this status through two grave errors, one of omission and one of commission.
The Error of Commission
The Iraq Accountability Act passed the House as H.R. 1591 and slightly differently as S. 965 in the Senate. The versions await reconciliation in conference committee. Both bills set deadlines for troop withdrawal, both appropriate the money the President requested for prosecuting his war, and both require the Iraqi Parliament to pass its "hydrocarbon law," to enable the sharing of oil revenues among the Iraqi people.
Revenue sharing surfaced publicly when President Bush announced his troop surge initiative on January 10. It was one in a series of mandatory "benchmarks" he established for the Iraqi government to meet. "To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy," Mr. Bush said, "
As usual, it seems, Mr. Bush was consciously deceiving us. He failed to tell us the whole truth. The Iraqi hydrocarbon law also privatizes 81% of Iraq's currently nationalized petroleum resources, opening them to "investment" by Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, and two British oil companies, BP/Amoco and Royal Dutch/Shell. (For further details, see Joshua Holland, "Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil,") These companies expect to sign the rarely used and notoriously profitable contracts called "production sharing agreements" which guarantee them extraordinarily high profit margins: they might capture more than half of the oil revenues for the first 15-30 years of the contracts' lifespan, and deny
So the Iraqi people will share among themselves all the revenue from 1/5th of their country's oil reserves. But they will get only a fraction from the remaining 4/5ths, where the American and British oil companies expect to generate immense profits. (Read more in Crude Designs, Greg Muttitt, ed., a report by the
This outcome has been on the Bush Administration's agenda since it took office in 2001, and it is the reason we went to war.
The broad contours of oilfield privatization and the use of production sharing agreements (PSA's ) were shaped five years ago in George Bush's State Department, part of a policy-development project called "The Future of Iraq." This was a year before the invasion. Afterward, Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority embedded privatization and PSA's into the emerging structures of Iraqi governance, aided by the intense lobbying in
President Bush, then, is commanding the Iraqi Parliament to enact a law that was drafted first in President Bush's State Department. It requires
And Congress has agreed to this. That is complicity.
Was Congress ignorant of the consequences of the deceitful "benchmark?" No. Representative Dennis Kucinich offered an amendment to eliminate it from H.R. 1591. In a letter to his Democratic colleagues, Mr. Kucinich said, "By requiring the enactment of this law by the Iraqi government, Democrats will be instrumental in privatizing Iraqi oil."
And so they were. With Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, the benchmark survived- essentially a prescription for theft.
The theft, however, is unlikely to take place. The war is at the point of stasis; privatizing the oil is in peril, because passage of the hydrocarbon law is increasingly remote. The law is a metaphor for the heinous sectarian strife which George Bush's invasion unleashed, and is now shattering the country and its culture. If the Iraqi minorities cannot agree to stop killing each other, they are unlikely to agree on the disposition of their country's crude oil. But the recognition of Bush's thievery is growing in
For Congress to abet an illegal war that cannot succeed is not only criminal, but bewildering in the extreme. There is no visible rationale for remaining in
The Error of Omission
The Bush Administration justified the invasion explicitly in terms of self defense. They linked Saddam Hussein directly to the terrorism of 9/11 and suggested further strikes were a near-certainty. Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Ms. Rice, and Mr. Rumsfeld told us
But the evidence was refuted and refuted again. Nothing they said was true.
President Bush's most egregious lie was not about weapons of mass destruction. It was his lie about the war's purpose. He told us it was about security at home and spreading democracy in the
That has been refuted repeatedly as well. The war was about oil, and here is how it began.
Six months before 9/11 Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force was scrutinizing maps of the Iraqi oilfields and documents about its nationalized industry.
The Task Force concluded the Persian Gulf would be the "focus" of
At about the same time, the National Security Council gave clarity to the word "focus." At its very first meeting, the NSC shelved the long-standing priority for Middle East foreign policy-settling the conflict between
The collapse of the
The success of the deception can be measured today by the infrequency of encountering the truth. The "war on terror" is still the unwavering story George Bush and Dick Cheney tell, in a campaign of propaganda to demonize "radical Islam." In conduct and effectiveness what they do is strikingly parallel to the program Joseph Goebbels pursued in Nazi Germany, to demonize Judaism. (For more parallels between the Bush and Nazi regimes see "How Will History Treat George Bush?".) The "terrorism" story continues to resonate with most of the Republicans in Congress, not a few Democrats, and a great many American people who have yet to encounter-or admit-the truth.
The mainstream press has been derelict in its unwillingness to challenge the propaganda. The literature exposing the truth elsewhere, however, is truly voluminous and rigorously persuasive, both in contemporary books and in the endless informational resources of the Internet. The sources span the political spectrum. One of the most damning books is Crude Politics: How Bush's Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism. It was written with intelligence and understated outrage by Paul Sperry, whose politics are far to the right of center.
Congress is aware of the first small lie about Saddam Hussein's terrifying weaponry and savage antipathy. But it seems unable to acknowledge the far more significant lie about the war's purpose, and fails even to conduct a serious inquiry into it. This serious error of omission allows the criminal war to continue unchecked.
Congress meanwhile addresses the summary dismissal of 8
The US Congress is surrounded by a mountain of evidence of impeachable offenses, but insists "impeachment is off the table." To citizens recalling their high school classes in civics and U.S. History, that is intolerable. It seems to violate the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution every member of Congress has taken.
The Congress has three compelling and immediate opportunities to expiate its disappointing behavior. Striking the revenue-sharing "benchmark" entirely from the Iraq Accountability Act. Mandating immediately the early, prudent, and orderly withdrawal of American troops from a criminal and unwinnable war. Then impeachment.
Richard W. Behan lives and writes on
(This essay is deliberately not copyrighted: It may be reproduced without restriction.)