We're Not In Iraq For The Figs  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

CNN Money reports that the US is still waiting to cash in on Iraq's oil. The talk about Iraq being able to produce 4 - 6 million barrels a day (under the right conditions) still understates the reality - fully exploited, Iraqi oil fields would be producing more than Saudi Arabia does today.

Iraqi lawmakers attempted earlier this year to pass a law governing the way oil contracts and revenues are managed. But the law got bogged down in parliament after Kurds objected to the greater control it gave the central government in allotting oil contracts and doling out royalties. The Iraqi public - and many lawmakers - also saw it as giving away the county's oil reserves to foreign firms.

Critics of the proposed oil law said it gave foreign firms control over production on individual fields and did not require them to hire Iraqi workers or share technology. "It really is a dream law for the companies," said Antonia Juhasz, a fellow at the research and advocacy group Oil Change International. "And privatization is not viewed as a good thing by most Iraqis."

But the law could impose high royalties, such as the 90 percent tax on oil profits in places like Russia and Libya, which would return most of the money to the Iraqi people. Some analysts say passing a national oil law and opening up the country to foreign firms is essential. ... But others say the Iraq national oil company could do the job themselves, given the resources to invest, renewed training overseas, and, of course, a more peaceful environment.

"They don't need investment by big oil companies," said James Placke, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates who specializes in the Middle East. "They need to fix the present oil infrastructure." Placke said war, lack of investment, and a shortage of properly trained technicians is leading to production declines of 200,000 barrel per day a year. Under the right conditions, he thinks the national oil company could produce four million barrels a day in five or six years time.

Kurt at Resource Insights has a post noting "None dare say it was for oil". Presumably he means no one in a position of power or influence. I've said it a million times, as have many others.
It must have seemed puzzling to many when the Bush administration put a full court press on former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan recently after the release of his memoir. In it Greenspan wrote that the administration had gone to war in Iraq over oil. That's hardly a blockbuster. The search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had ended in failure. The connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda had long since been debunked. And, any hope of establishing a stable democracy in Iraq had already been dashed by the wildly incompetent execution of the war.

WMD, the al Qaeda connection and the introduction of democracy in Iraq had all been at various times justifications for the war. One would think that under such circumstances a competent public relations adviser would have counseled the administration to just let Alan Greenspan's assertion pass. After all, the former central banker would soon be completing his book tour, and then he would fade from the news. Why respond, when doing so would only fan the flames?

But the counterattack came quickly on the Sunday morning talk shows and in the White House press room. Under bombardment from the administration Greenspan quickly "elaborated" on his views in order to deflect the return fire.

All of this could be seen as a relatively minor dustup over what is now broadly believed by the American public to be at least one of the major reasons for going to war. But, the assertion that the military mission in Iraq is primarily a raiding party for oil is more than just an embarrassment to the administration. Naturally, the collapse of the other justifications for the war led to a more widespread acceptance of this assertion. But, even more important, this assertion has implications which, if discussed and properly understood, would thunder through the public mind.

Admitting that the invasion of Iraq was about oil opens the door to a very troubling conversation. If the invasion was about oil, then it must mean that the supply of imported oil was somehow threatened. The supply could be threatened, of course, for two reasons: 1) Someone was threatening it, in this case Saddam Hussein, or 2) something was threatening it, possibly depletion. ...

This is something of a false dichotomy of course - if we aren't at the peak oil point yet (or if Bush and Cheney don't believe we are) then it could be for the same reason we've always invaded Iraq - controlling the oil.

The Atlantic Free Press says the mainstream Democrats (not pointing the finger honest folk like Kucinich) are complicit in the oil grab - "The Treason of the Mainstream Democrats".
The “War on Terror” is a conscious and ingenious masquerade for the geostrategic pursuit and control of Middle Eastern oil and gas resources. The facts place this beyond dispute. Mr. Bush’s claim of “taking the fight directly to the terrorists…and the states that harbor them” was yet one more intentional deception, as subsequent events fully demonstrated. In Afghanistan the state was overthrown instead of apprehending the terrorists—Osama bin Laden remains at large—and in Iraq, when we invaded, there were no terrorists at all. But today both “states” are fitted with puppet governments and dotted with permanent U.S. military bases in close proximity to their hydrocarbon assets.

Only the Bush Administration continues to natter about a bogus “War on Terror.” Others are more candid:

o Republican Senator Senator Charles Hagel: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.” (Speaking at Catholic University, 9/24/07)

o Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, in his book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World: “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

o Democratic Senator Jon Tester: “We’re still fighting a war in Iraq and people who are honest about it will admit we’re there over oil.” (Associated Press, 9/24/07)

o General John Abizaid, retired CENTCOM commander: “Of course it’s about oil, we can’t really deny that.” (Speaking at Stanford University, 10/13/07)

The criminal fraudulence of the “War on Terror” is fully documented (see http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/63632/ ), but the contemporary press has been derelict in failing to expose the mega-lie and publicize it. The mainstream Democrats are equally derelict in ignoring it. ...

Why can’t the mainstream Democrats speak sublime truth to demonic power? Doing so, they claim, would be too “divisive” and jeopardize the party’s success in next year’s election.

This strategy is politically suicidal. A Democratic sweep in 2008 grows dimmer every day.

The rank-and-file Republicans who continue to believe Mr. Bush’s lies about the “war on terror” will not vote for a Democrat. The rank-and-file Democrats who see through the lies are increasingly enraged by the insipid waffling of their mainstream candidates. And roughly half the American people don’t bother to vote at all, repelled by the tawdry attack ads and negativity of bitterly partisan, superficial, sophomoric, and issue-avoidance politicking.

If the mainstream Democrats do nothing to change this, they will wind up where they’re headed—disappointed and defeated in 2008—and they will deserve it. Only by exposing and acting on the truth about the war can they change any Republican minds, regain the support of disenchanted Democrats, and attract the politically inert, indifferent Americans. A new style of politics needs badly to be engaged, one that is dedicated not merely to winning elections, but to a genuine concern for truth, for justice, for the rule of law, and for integrity in public service.

The most direct and honorable way of invoking such a style is by impeaching George Bush and Richard Cheney. Never in our history have the high crimes and misdemeanors been so flagrant, and the people of our country know it.

Yes, Congressman Kucinich sought with a “member’s privilege” motion to initiate an impeachment proceeding on the floor of the House of Representatives. But Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer moved immediately to kill the initiative, only to be thwarted by a Republican trick. Finally Nancy Pelosi, desperate to avoid a floor debate, managed to have the matter referred to the Judiciary Committee—where Chairman John Conyers has been sitting on the original bill since last April. The giving of aid and comfort to the enemies will, seemingly, continue.

That line about not being there for the figs isn't bad.

"The Walrus" has an article by Linda McQuaig on candidate Kucinich - "Mission Not Yet Accomplished" - and his accurate take on the Iraq war and its oily underpinnings.
There’s a reason I’m chasing Kucinich — and it’s essentially the same reason he’s no more likely to win the Democratic nomination than Miss Saudi Arabia is to be the next Miss Universe. Kucinich has been speaking out about a rather remarkable set of developments going on inside Iraq. Amid all the death and mayhem, the Iraqi government is under intense pressure from Washington to implement a proposed new law that would begin the process of parcelling out Iraq’s vast undeveloped oil reserves.

In the Western media, the proposed law has generally been described as an “oil revenue–sharing law” — that is, a law that sets out how Iraq’s potentially massive oil revenues will be split among its warring ethnic factions, the Shiites, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds. But the law is actually about much more than that. It’s also about creating a legal framework for foreign investment in Iraq’s oil sector, thereby potentially reviving a dominant role for big multinational oil companies — a role they’ve been excluded from since a powerful wave of oil nationalism swept the Middle East in the 1970s and left the region’s bounteous reserves in the hands of national governments. Ultimately at stake is who will end up as chief beneficiaries of the immense treasure trove of black gold stored beneath Iraq’s sand: the country’s 27 million largely destitute citizens, or the owners of the wealthiest corporations on earth, otherwise known as Big Oil.

Dennis Kucinich suspects it’s going to be the latter, and he’s been trying to draw attention to what he calls “one of the biggest heists in the history of the world.” One clue that he may be on to something is the very high priority the Bush administration, with its notoriously close ties to Big Oil, is attaching to the Iraqi oil law. In May 2007, Vice-President Dick Cheney made a trip to Baghdad, and, as media reports indicated, his central message was the urgency of passing the oil law.

Yet Kucinich has had no luck stirring up opposition on this front in Washington. Even his efforts to get his fellow Democrats onside against the administration’s apparent attempt to privatize Iraq’s oil has been met with indifference, even hostility. Despite the unpopularity of the war, Democrats have been hugely reluctant to level accusations that hint at a nefarious US motive in connection with Iraq’s oil.

So even as powerful US and British oil companies sit poised to take control of the largest unharvested oil bonanza left on earth — with some 165,000 US troops standing helpfully by — the watchdogs on Capitol Hill and the media seem uninterested. The elephant stands knee deep in oil in the middle of the room, attracting no more attention than Dennis Kucinich in the halls of the Rayburn building. The Bush administration may have botched just about everything it’s touched in connection with its misadventure in Iraq, but it has pulled off one master stroke: it has somehow managed to banish to the margins of public debate any suggestion that it has ever cast a covetous eye on Iraq’s oil.

Reuters reports that the Iraqi parliament is still avoiding handing over the oil.
Iraq's political leaders are in intensive talks to resolve lingering disputes over a draft law that will decide control of the world's third-largest oil reserves, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday. ... Maliki said the bill, which will provide a legal framework for foreign firms to do business in Iraq, had since been sent back to cabinet for more talks to iron out the disputes. The prime minister said there was still disagreement over the exploration of undeveloped fields and production-sharing agreements, as well as contracts that had already been signed with some foreign companies.

Oh yeah - the "undiscovered" oil - I was wondering when they'd get around too quibbling about who decides which bits haven't been "discovered" yet.

The Dallas Morning News points out that Iraq's troubles have pushed oil costs up - the result of "a war gone awry". I guess that's one possible interpretation...
The spike in oil prices shaking the U.S. economy right now is something of a self-inflicted wound stemming from a war gone awry.

An oil drilling rig is installed at the Taq Taq Operating Co. in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraq's oil production has been crippled since the start of the war, amounting to one of the biggest disruptions in world oil supplies since World War II, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Bush administration officials predicted Iraqi oil production would soar after Saddam Hussein was gone, to levels of 6 million barrels a day or more, and that Iraq would be able to rebuild with its own oil revenues. Instead, Iraqi oil production remains in the doldrums – 2.2 million barrels a day, below pre-war levels of 2.7 million barrels – because of a rat's nest of sabotage, theft and mismanagement so stark that oil is paying for insurrection rather than reconstruction. "Our people, we are living on a sea of oil but we're facing a very big crisis in all of Iraq, not only in Kirkuk," said Mayor Abdul Rahman Mustafa. "We have the shortage and the crisis of the fuels."

International economic sanctions, war damage dating to the early 1980s and a failure to invest in the oil industry had made a mess of things well before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But the crippling of Iraq's oil production since the start of the war amounts to one of the biggest disruptions in world oil supplies since World War II, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Without this disaster, oil prices would be much lower today, said David Kirsch, a former State Department energy analyst who now manages oil market intelligence for PFC Energy consultants in Washington. "If not for the war, we'd have cheaper oil, and more of it," he said. ...

Ashti Hawrami, minister of natural resources with the Kurdistan regional government in northern Iraq, estimates oil theft averages 300,000 barrels a day – worth about $8 billion a year. Nearly all of this oil is diverted from the south to organized crime syndicates operating in the Persian Gulf. "We have to cut out the smuggling nonsense," he said. "I am supposed to have 17 percent of that" for the Kurdistan regional government. "How do I get my money?"

Bad management has also played a role.

The gigantic Kirkuk field has produced for 50 years and still holds more than 9 billion barrels of oil. It was damaged under Saddam Hussein's last years in power when he ordered more oil than engineers could deliver without using techniques that robbed years from the productive life of the reservoir. Iraqis pumped thick, greasy fuel into the field to pressure more oil out of the ground, but the remaining crude oil became harder to recover.

Finally, there was widespread alarm among Iraqis and the political left around the world that the war would lead to a carve-up of Iraq's oil among big U.S.- and British-based international oil companies. "There was no recognition that Iraqi notions of sovereignty were tied up with oil, and Iraqis would not want to see wholesale privatization," said Mr. Kirsch.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan made news recently by writing in his memoirs, "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows – that the Iraq War is largely about oil."

President Bush and others in his administration have repeatedly denied oil was a motive. But the war came at a time when there was growing concern worldwide about surging demand for gasoline and other fuels in fast-growing nations like China and India, as well as in the United States. The bulk of Iraq's 115 billion barrels of proved reserves (some oil consultants say there is probably twice that amount) were kept out of the market by U.N. economic sanctions. ...

In 2003, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz testified before Congress that Iraq had so much oil it could rebuild out of its own pocket. "It has one of the most valuable undeveloped sources of natural resources in the world. And let me emphasize, if we liberate Iraq those resources will belong to the Iraqi people, that they will be able to develop them and borrow against them," he said. "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon," he added.

Iraq is an OPEC member subject to the cartel's rules about production and prices, but OPEC has left Iraq without a quota for many years because of its economic weakness. In the months before the U.S.-led invasion, there were meetings at the White House and Pentagon to decide how to put Iraq's oil industry back on its feet once Saddam Hussein was gone. The Halliburton Co., Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer, was chosen to come in behind U.S. troops to restore production in southern Iraq.

As U.S. forces were nearing Baghdad, Mr. Wolfowitz said, "The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 [billion] and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years" – an estimate that suggested oil production of 6 million barrels a day or more.


* UPI - Iraqi Kurds give oil deals to own oil firm
* Oil Change International - Iraq: Exposing the Corporate Agenda
* New York Times - The Coup at Home
* Globe And Mail - How many billion barrels in Saudi Arabia ?
* George Monbiot - Biofuels Could Kill More People Than the Iraq War. George really doesn't like biofuels - and the Swaziland example really doesn't look very good.
* The Guardian - Iraqi fighters 'grilled for evidence on Iran'
* Youtube - Ron Paul On Face The Nation, Veteran's Day 2007. "I think our policy on Iran is the threat. ... We have 700 military bases in 130 countries - we should bring the troops home".
* Cryptogon - US Official: Privacy Is a Soviet Style Bureaucracy That Knows Everything About You
* Mises.org - Freedoms and Foes.
H.R. 1955 is an absolute attack on the freedom of speech. Not only does it assault my right to question government, it also assaults the right of ardent Marxists to speak their minds. So, I am at a loss at both ends.

You see, I value the ability to speak as much as the ability to read nonsense from those such as the writers and curators over at Marxists.org. Should H.R. 1955 become law, no longer will I be able to read articles like "Trotsky or Deutscher? On the New Revisionism and Its Theoretical Source" from James P. Cannon, Fourth International, Winter 1954. The logical gymnastics of such articles will be gone from the web. A very sad day indeed.

I do not fear the idiocy of Cannon and his fellow travelers. But I do fear the agenda of those who proudly strut the halls of DC, American flag pin displayed loudly on lapel or blouse.

These folks aren't simply debating historical and epistemological positions, they are conspiring to subvert the remaining vestiges of Liberty and Property. They are not some group of fanatic windbags. No, they are modern day Brownshirts fighting over whose match ignites the Reichstag -- the Constitution.

The freedom of speech is about to be turned on its head. Fight H.R. 1955 as if it's your life. For without Liberty, your life is no longer yours anyway.


Iraq, Camw for the Figs, Stayed for the Oil.

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