Thursday, July 12, 2007

War For Oil

"Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war, in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour, for patriotism is indeed a double edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch, and the blood boils with hate, and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need of seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."
Julius Caesar

Have you noticed that members of the insurgency in Iraq are now almost universally referred to as “al-Qaeda” on your evening news? Also, almost any act of terrorism anywhere in the world is generally attributed to al-Qaeda, as in the following quote by Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister.

Mr Brown told Andrew Marr on BBC One's Sunday AM it was "clear that we are dealing, in general terms, with people who are associated with al-Qaeda".

This is ironical for several reasons.

Firstly because al-Qaeda were never in Iraq before the 2003 invasion. Secondly, because the insurgency there also contains large numbers of groups who are, and always were, opposed to al-Qaeda.

(In fact, the US administration can’t have it both ways: either the Iraq insurgency is being run by al-Qaeda, or it is being secretly funded by Iran - one or the other - because the regime in Iran and the leadership of al-Qaeda have always been enemies.)

Thirdly because al-Qaeda were a virtually moribund organisation before the so-called “war-on-terror” gave them all the justification they needed to continue their barbarous campaign of murder.

Fourthly because most of the time it’s simply not true. Al-Qaeda as we perceive them are as much a creation of the United States government and the media as they ever were of Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri. Al-Qaeda needs an enemy, and so does the United States. It’s like a marriage of convenience, each giving the other justification for its actions.

Finally, and most ironical of all, as we heard in the recent National Intelligence Estimate, al-Qaeda are now better positioned to strike the West than it has been since September 11th 2001.

Al-Qaeda is “operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," we were told. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States…."

In other words, despite over six years of bombings and tactics designed to dismantle it; despite the war on terror and the attacks on our civil liberties; despite Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay; despite extraordinary rendition and the torture that goes with it; despite 655,000 dead* (most of them Muslims) in Iraq alone; despite all of this, al-Qaeda are stronger than ever.

Kind of makes you wonder what the last six years have been about doesn’t it?

We need to get a little perspective. On the same day the botched attack occurred in Glasgow - in which no one died - more than 100 Afghan civilians were killed in a three-hour bombing raid on a village in Helmund province. Real and effective bombs as opposed to improvised and useless ones.

No one knows how many people died in Iraq on that day. Or to put it another way: in order to protect us from a conspiracy that doesn’t exist, we kill civilians in other countries, thus creating more bloodshed and more mayhem, and more resentment leading, almost certainly, to more attacks.

This is not a war on terrorism, it is a war on decency and human values.

It’s all part of the game. You create chaos so no one knows what’s going on, and under cover of that you are free to pursue whatever agenda you choose.

In the case of Iraq, the agenda is oil. It always was.

Even now there is a bill before the Iraqi parliament, being forced through by the American government, which will effectively privatise Iraqi oil.

The joke here is – and I’ve just heard George Bush say it at his press conference – that the supposed aim of the bill is to “redistribute oil wealth”.

Yes, you heard it. You redistribute oil wealth by giving control of it to private companies. It’s a new interpretation of that old concept, redistribution of wealth: from the Iraqi people to the American oil companies.

So now you know.

Free enterprise: it really works.


1 comment:

steve said...

Proven oil reserves in Iraq amount to 200 billion barrels. Some estimate that there is another 200 billion to be discovered. The terms of the agreement provide to western oil majors roughly double the amount of revenue per barrel as the normal contract would, an incremental amount of $5 to $7 dollars a barrel based on current prices. This amounts to a windfall of at least $1trillion and perhaps as much as $2.8 trillion. In other words, one could interpret the invasion of Iraq as being nothing more than a bargaining ploy - one that materially weakened the bargaining position of the adversary.

BTW - Great Essay!