The obstinance of the White House casts doubt on exactly how important the three most frequently cited reasons for the looming war with Iraq - terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and human rights – really are. Less frequently debated alternatives seem more logical and believable. In short, the keyword is ‘Oil.’
The Privatized Foreign Policy of Bush and Co.
Residing in a society, where the information space is shaped by the American mass media, it is impossible not to notice the news of the looming war between the USA and Iraq. One after the other, the attention of America is being focused on international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and the danger posed by undemocratic regimes.
Yet, it would seem that the experience of the 20th century would cause society to doubt the rationality and morality of war. A poll conducted in November by students at Wisconsin University shows that half of those Americans polled are against the war and only 13% support it. Several hundred organizations have formed a national coalition that is attempting to stop the war through non-violent action. President Bush’s administration would sooner perceive society’s demands as the result of insufficient information and its incorrect interpretation rather than as a demonstration of mistrust. On the request of the government, in between TV programs Hussien’s evil deeds are recounted, arousing a hunger for revenge in viewers and, in so doing, the war is legitimized and society’s support for it grows. The activities of the White House create the impression that war will come, whatever the cost. This insistence casts doubt on precisely how important the three most often cited reasons for the war – terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and human rights - really are as there is no proof that terrorists have received support from Iraq, that Iraq possesses weapons that other nations in the world do not also possess (including the peace-loving USA) and that the most threatened people in the world live in Iraq. Therefore it is worth considering alternative reasons for the war that are less well known but seem much more logical and believable. In short, the keyword is oil.
Of note in this context is the 2001 US National Energy Policy Report, which demonstrates three relevant things: the only way the fast growing demand for oil in the US can be met is through an increase in imports; to secure such an increase, the US cannot rely solely on traditional suppliers – Venezuela, Canada and Saudi Arabia; to secure access to new sources of oil, political support is essential. The US is concerned about a sufficient supply of oil because, as pointed out by the British newspaper The Observer, its consumption is 20 million barrels of crude oil a day, but the US can only provide half of that itself. In 20 years, consumption could increase by 30%. Thus, the interest the US has shown in the Middle East, Caspian Sea and Andean regions in the past few years is logical. Officially, the US has based its intrusion into the domestic politics of these regions on the desire to guarantee stability and peace, but in reality this is one way of implementing the Energy Policy strategy, as these regions are rich sources of oil. Often, it is the US that initiates the creation and activation of opposition groups if the leaders in power refuse to cooperate with the US and placate its economic interests. For example, the Washington Post reports that the umbrella organization for groups opposed to Hussein’s regime, Iraq’s National Congress, receives financial and ideological support from the US. If the opposition comes to power, the US will gain a pro-American government in Iraq that will respect its political and economic interests. Iraq owns 11% of the world’s total oil resources and specialists point out that its unexploited reserves are huge, which could make Iraq the richest oil nation in the world. Moreover, Iraq’s oil is cheap and high quality. As shown by experts from Washington’s Policy Study Center, the US currently imports 1 million barrels of oil from Iraq per day, which is comparatively little but, due the strained nature of relations, the US cannot get any more. The oil of Iraq is the property of the state and, in large part, supports its military industry, which opposes the expansionist policies of the US and seeks to retain its influence in the Middle East.
The global oil business is dominated by five companies – Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch-Shell, British Petroleum-Amoco, Chevron-Texaco and TotalFinaElf of which four are of American origin. These companies are interested in acquiring new oil deposits and, just like US officials, are speaking with the Iraqi opposition about regime change and subsequent scenarios. It is too early to predict exactly how the political system of Iraq will be restructured, but the introduction of market economic principles would bring about big changes – oil deposits could be privatized with the lion’s share going, undoubtedly, to oil business magnates. The privatization of Iraq’s oil would disturb the military industry’s development, which would particularly please Bush and his partners. The decisive importance of economic interests is clearly exposed in the negotiations between the US and other UN Security Council members. In order to convince them to support the US war against Iraq, the main point of discussion has been to reach agreement on the division of resources and the harmonization of interests. This was especially important to Russia, which is unmistakably bound by economic interests (the largest Russian oil companies – Lukoil, Tafneft, Slavneft and Zarubezhneft currently control a third of Iraq’s oil exports). According to the Washington Post, to receive the support of Russia, in accordance with their so called ‘gentleman’s agreement,’ Bush agreed to see to it that, after the change of political regime in Iraq, Iraq’s debt to Russia, around billion for arms sales and another few billion dollars in contracts with Lukoil and Slavneft, would not be annulled. Similar compromises have been reached with other states, as war with Iraq means the redistribution of the world’s economic resources, which will determine the proportion of each nation’s strength in the future. Access to this distribution will be limited to those who serve as allies of the US during the war.
Also telling is the fact that the Bush administration has close ties to the oil industry. The President comes from the birthplace of the world’s oil magnates, Texas, where he worked in the oil industry for 11 years and then served as Governor of the state for another 8. Bush’s father was the director of the world’s largest oil-product extraction-service provider, Halliburton, which US Vice President Dick Cheney led, but whose director is now the experienced Bush advisor Laurence Igleburger. President Bush’s advisor, Condoleeza Rice, formerly director of the Chevron Corporation (the US oil company with the largest amount of oil imported from Iraq), now, while working in the White House, continues to consult with the company on the issue of investing in new oil-wells in the Caspian Sea region. About another 30 White House officials of different rank are connected to this lucrative industry. Fortuitous coincidences of such size and circumstance are typically called something else – the sacrifice of society’s interest in the name of private interest, which has led to the further degradation of democratic principles the world over.
The US request that Iraq reveal all the weapons of mass destruction under its control is also hypocritical. Excluding Iraq, there are 9 other nations (the US, China, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and South Africa), which can produce or have the potential to produce all four types of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and long-range rockets). This raises the question, what gives the US the right to hold these weapons and, if necessary, use them, while Iraq must destroy them? This sort of foreign policy, resting as it does on double-standards, creates the impression that the US is being consumed with paranoia over the loss of its hegemonic position in the world. Its desire to be the world’s policeman with privileged rights to do what others may not is unmistakable.
While the war has not yet started, it is clear that it has become unavoidable. The playful manipulation of UN resolutions and international security agreements by the US will continue until it finds a legal foundation for aggression against Iraq. The UN Security Charter allows the use of military force in self-defense if a nation faces aggression or is seriously threatened by attack. Iraq has not demonstrated direct aggression against the US and even the claims of its complicity in acts of terrorism against the US lack evidence. Thus only the second option remains – proving that Iraq plans or has planned on attacking the US. While not the official reason for starting the war, the goal of the US has remained constant – to topple Hussein. He is more than an inconvenient figure in international politics as he ignores the privatized foreign policy interests of the US and does not wish to hand over his nation’s wealth to large-power business magnates and will not abide by the rules of western political games.