“Oil in the next war will occupy the place of coal in the present war, or at least a parallel place to coal. The only big potential supply that we can get under British control is the Persian [now Iran] and Mesopotamian [now Iraq] supply… Control over these oil supplies becomes a first class British war aim.” - First Secretary of War Cabinet Sir Maurice Hankey to British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, 1918.
In the wake of my buddy Mike Flannigan's recent post on the subject, Rosa Sow over at Newsy.com sent along to me an interesting little video about what seems to be the real rationale for the invasion of Iraq. Of course, that's nothing new. Obviously it was all about the oil.
What Newsy does is cull its information from reputable primary news sources from both the electronic and print worlds in a multimedia format to give a clearer picture of what is a complex issue: the question of who will ultimately control Iraq's oil as the United States will finally withdraw from Iraq under President Barack Obama's initiatives. In a way, Newsy is a much glitzier version of the recently defunct Thousand Reasons.org website that did the same thing only without the smokin' hot, Lara Logan-esque female anchor.
I say "finally withdraw" for a reason. While we're all giving each other high fives and dislocating our shoulders patting ourselves on the back for electing a President who finally showed enough common sense to get us out of that quagmire, not too many of us have noticed that we've already violated the terms of SOFA, or the Status of Forces Agreement. Seems we were supposed to begin this massive redeployment no later than June 30th and while Vice President Joe Biden was getting jiggy wid the troops and his son on, ironically, our own independence day, apparently no one from the non-independent Iraqi government took the foreign policy wonk aside to ask him why we're still there in full force and even using one of Saddam's old palaces to make immigrants US citizens.
I'm sure there are a million pragmatic and important-sounding reasons with an air of irrefutability as to why we're still there and you'll never hear mention of the DoD possibly keeping our troops in harm's way to protect the Iraqi oil and gas fields at a time when violence in Iraq seems to be slowly on the rise. And, for the jaded and necessarily cynical, the most exciting news is the kind that you don't hear.
All told, according to Truthout's Dahr Jamail's figures, with the 134,000 troops we still have in Iraq (which is barely lower than the number we had at the beginning of the occupation) and the 36,000+ American contractors that are still flooding in, we now have upwards of 170,000 US citizens still in Iraq. One has to wonder how many of those 36,000 American contractors will be working for those US oil companies who are about to divvy up the oil fields according to Dick Cheney's master plan that was hatched during his super secret energy task force meetings in the earliest years of this decade.
To bring home the point of how shady our inactions have been since SOFA was allegedly implemented, this is what Jamail has to say:
In addition, there has been an assumption that all US military bases within Iraqi city limits would be moved. For example, US Army Forward Operating Base Falcon, home to 3,000 US troops, is clearly within the city limits of Baghdad. But US military officials, working with Iraqis in the US-supported Iraqi government, have other ideas. "We and the Iraqis decided it wasn't in the city," a military official told the Christian Science Monitor. Thus, city lines are redrawn, to the convenience of the US military, to render certain bases and forward operating bases "outside" of Iraqi cities.
A little Tom DeLay gerrymandering action, a little rubbing out of city lines and hasty scribbling of new ones and voila! instant US troops withdrawal, only without the, you know, withdrawal and all done months before the June 30th SOFA deadline. Considering that the largest rationale for invading and occupying Iraq in the first place was their trillions of dollars of oil, is it truly outside the realm of possibility that we're using US troops to protect Iraq's energy resources long after they should legally be there?
Point in fact, not only do we still occupy 340 bases while handing over control of 142 but the US military (and contractors) are still building more bases. Doesn't quite meet my definition of an exit strategy or a redeployment so it's hard to see why Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is getting so excited over this.
Unfortunately, it's difficult to see the forest for the trees or, in this case, the olive drab steel and iron ring for the individual US bases. Since the first Bush administration implemented the apparently successful Operation Desert Storm in six weeks flat, it's escaped the attention of those not on the inside that since then we have encircled the major oil fields in the Persian Gulf with American bases, bases that, I reiterate, are still being built in Iraq.
It's also escaped the attention of everyone not in the loop that protecting the oil and gas fields in the southern part of Iraq seemed to be our top priority within 24-48 hours after Shock and Awe began on March 19, 2003. This general overview of a map drawn in 2003, the start of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, shows you how perfectly and firmly US air and naval bases are aligned with the oil and natural gas fields all over the Persian Gulf. A more detailed map of Iraq, courtesy of the BBC, will show you the exact location of the oil fields and you'll note place names that have become more sadly familiar than many of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and Guardsmen who had died protecting those oil fields. An Nasiriyah. Al Basra. An Najaf. And, to the north, Mosul, Kirkuk. And in each of those oil and gas-rich regions, we still have many, many bases.
So now, when Iraq is negotiating with 8 of the largest and richest oil companies in the world, we're going to suddenly back off when Iraqi security and sovereignty is hardly a guaranteed thing?
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." So why are we so willfully ignorant of this brutal colonialism, this military-enforced protectorate of Iraq's oil and gas fields and how come we're not making a bigger stink about Obama basically wiping up after George W. Bush's and PNAC's wettest wet dream while assuming all the political risk?
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