A Crude Approach

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The
Bush Administration has treated with scorn, accusations that its
invasion and occupation of Iraq were motivated by the drive to control
Iraqi oil. Yet, the evidence – both historical and current – continues
to mount in support of that theory.

Starting
with World War I and the proliferation of machines fed by fossil
fuels nations began to realize the dire need to capture and control
sources of oil, both as a means of fueling their own war machines
and as a means of denying their enemy the precious resource. The
dynamics of oil supply and demand would shape entire military campaigns
as well as the food chain among nations. Strategically and literally
war was being fueled by oil.

Between
1914 and 1917, the U.S. share of world oil output grew from 65 to
67 percent of a much larger production. Between 1940 and 1945 it
rose from 63 percent to some two thirds of a nearly doubled world
output at war's end. The Middle East by contrast, produced less
than 5 percent in 1940 and not much more in 1945…By 1975 oil was
becoming a critical factor to the CIA, where George H.W. Bush took
over…By 1980, the United States produced under 20 percent of world
petroleum output and had to import 30 percent of its needs. By 2000,
the U.S. share of production had shrunk further and 50 percent of
U.S. consumption had to be imported. …Leverage would continue to
swing to the Middle East with Gulf producers alone expected to provide
54 to 67 percent of world oil exports in 2020….A careful listener
could almost hear the war drums….Cheney and his chief of staff,
Lewis Libby, had already participated in drafting a 2000 report
for the project for a New American Century that called for taking
over Iraq — this well before 9/11 — as part of a larger, oil-minded
Pax Americana. (American
Dynasty
, Kevin Phillips, pp 254–255, Viking 2004)

A
study of the Bush family demonstrates a multi-generational history
of connections to oil, the intelligence community and the military
institutions of America. This triad would see its ascendancy in
the 20th century, with two world wars sending the demand
for petroleum, intelligence assets and military spending soaring.
The century would see a parallel rise in Bush family political and
personal fortunes, the most notable of which were the father/son
Presidencies.

Was
it mere coincidence that both Bush Administrations made control
of Middle East oil resources a priority? Under a cloak of WMD, terrorism
and the need for democracy, Bush the son would exceed his father's
creeping approach with an undisguised invasion and occupation of
Iraq. If you think that the invasion was not about oil, consider
that as part of pre-war preparations, "The (U.S. Army's)
land forces command printed 100,000 maps of southern Iraqi oilfields,
which the Marines were to secure." (New York Times, October
20, 2004.)

Operation
Desert Storm was undertaken in part we were told to prevent Saddam
Hussein from driving oil prices over $25.00/barrel. Today Saddam
is gone and oil has topped $60.00/barrel.

The
Taliban's rejection of American overtures for the establishment
of an oil pipeline through that central Asian nation is documented.
Their demise through U.S. and British invasion followed shortly.

Enter
China. In the battle for control of oil, there is perhaps no greater
threat to neocon plans for global domination than China. As manufacturing
shifts steadily away from the United States and steadily into China's
hands, more petroleum is required to drive the great Chinese machine.
No industrialized nation would be complete without a major military
to carry out its goals, and China is no exception. Commensurate
with China's industrial growth is a major expansion and upgrading
of its military — a fact which has not escaped the attention of
neocon plotters. As noted, large militaries simultaneously increase
demand for, and serve as a means of securing, oil supply. China's
growth will put exponential pressure upon the world oil supply.

Consider
China's recent bid for the purchase of UNOCAL, a fully diversified
American oil company. The bid sent shockwaves through the Beltway
and led to concerted efforts to defeat China's bid. Why? Acquisition
of UNOCAL would not give China control of world oil markets. Its
symbolism was more significant than its impact.

U.S.
military forces and private mercenaries were assigned to protect
the oil fields, oil companies' investments and their employees.
Determined to deny the invaders the spoils of their invasion, insurgents
have routinely targeted oil facilities for destruction and have
engaged in deadly attacks upon the mercenary armies hired to protect
the investment. China was one of many nations which opposed the
invasion and has refused to provide troops for the occupation.

Whether
the motive was primarily to secure petroleum for American consumption
at controlled prices or as future leverage over growing global competitor
China, the role of oil in the occupation of Iraq is a crude reality.

July
26, 2005

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

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