Wars for Oil

Our warrior President constantly refers to the 9/11/01 attacks as the casus belli for our invasion of Iraq.

The Iraq war is actually a continuing function of the US military as a "global oil protection force", according to Michael Klare, author of Blood and Oil and Resource Wars. The Islamist struggle against U.S. and Britain's colonial/imperialist policies has raged for more than a half century. It's been in reaction to our Machiavellian quest for cheap oil in the Middle-East.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt cut a deal for US access the vast oil fields of Saudi Arabia with their king during World War II. In 1953, when the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran declared that Iranian oil belonged to the people of Iran, the US and Britain staged a coup that overthrew it and we installed the Shah as dictator. The Shah's decadence and autocratic excessiveness led to his ouster by the fundamentalist Allatoyah Khomeini and his Islamic revolutionaries. The Iranian hostage crisis motivated President Jimmy Carter to declare the Persian Gulf region as vital to the national security interests of the

United States. When Ronald Reagan was President the United States armed Saddam Hussein and sicced him on Iran in the 1980s in a war that killed more than 1/2 million people.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the US CIA recruited Osama bin Laden and other radical Islamists to foment a violent insurgency against the Soviet supported government in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is credited with masterminding the 9/11 attacks, and 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, our most cherished ally in the region. The aim of the US invasion of Iraq has never been democracy but to forge a puppet state that is amenable to US ambitions to open up the Iraqi oil industry to transnational companies and develop long-term American military bases that can be used to project U.S. military power in the Persian Gulf region and throughout the Middle East. Progressive political pundits who wonder why potential Democratic Presidential contenders like Senators Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden do not support the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq need to come to grips with the history of US policy in the region.

Meanwhile, Iraq war casts are staggering. Jonathan Weisman reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that as the military confronts the rapidly escalating cost of repairing, rebuilding and replacing equipment chewed up by three years of combat the annual war expenditures in Iraq will come close to doubling since the U.S. invasion. The costs have risen from $48 billion in 2003 to $59 billion in 2004 to $81 billion in 2005 to an anticipated $94 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found. Annual war costs in Iraq are easily outpacing the $61 billion a year that the United States spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, in today's dollars, according to Weisman.

Our unquestioning support for anything Israel does also has an exacerbating affect on the dislike of Arab Islamists for the US.

I read a lengthy essay titled "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" by Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago that was posted on the Web site of Harvard's Kennedy School. Commenting on the essay in an article in the New York Times this week, Tony Judt said "As they must have anticipated, the essay has run into a firestorm of vituperation and refutation".This somewhat hysterical response is regrettable. In spite of its provocative title, the essay draws on a wide variety of standard sources and is mostly uncontentious. But it makes two distinct and important claims. The first is that uncritical support for Israel across the decades has not served America's best interests. This is an assertion that can be debated on its merits. The authors' second claim is more controversial: American foreign policy choices, they write, have for years been distorted by one domestic pressure group, the "Israel Lobby ".

As with previous conflicts in the region, oil/war profiteers exemplified by the likes of Exxon/Mobil and Halliburton are the driving forces behind US policy. They are picking our pockets. The Iraq war is for oil and empire and its causes certainly predate 9/11/01.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.