• 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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