Iraq:  Blood for Oil or Peace Through Justice

Sheila Musaji

Posted Jan 28, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Iraq:  Blood for Oil or Peace Through Justice

by Sheila Musaji

A current news story is not getting the attention it deserves and may be the key to understanding the Iraq War.  It also brings the prophetic statements of two former presidents into clear focus.  In his farewell address, George Washington warned against the dangers of a standing Army.  In his farewell address Dwight Eisenhower warned against the dangers of the military-industrial complex gaining power.  Both of those possibilities have become reality.

The Iraqi government is about to push through a law giving Western oil companies the right to exploit the country’s massive oil reserves.  Oil companies would be able to sign deals for up to 30 years to extract oil, and any disputes between Iraq and these companies would have to be settled by International arbitration.  After the companies have recouped their initial costs they can keep 20% of the profits.

Current Iraqi oil policy will allocate the development of at least 64% of Iraq’s reserves to foreign oil companies.  The estimated cost to Iraq over the life of the new oil contracts is $74 to $194 billion, compared with leaving oil development in public hands. These sums represent between two and seven times the current Iraqi state budget.  The contracts would guarantee massive profits to foreign companies, with rates of return of 42% to 162%.

This new oil law means “victory” in Iraq for Bush no matter what else happens, if oil profits are a key to a definition of victory.

What will this law mean to Iraq, to the greater Middle East and to the image of America abroad? 

It will likely lead to increased sectarian tensions in Iraq:

“This war was always about oil, and America still does not control the flow and distribution of Iraqi oil, but still is attempting to gain that control. Iraqi insurgents know this full well, and this knowledge emboldens them to fight the occupation, fight the puppet government, and even to fight one another for their piece of the prize. Sunnis are not fighting Shiia over religious practices and philosophy. They are fighting over access to the riches of their nation, and simultaneously attempting to deny those riches to America and America’s puppets.” Usurping Iraqi Sovereignty—An Effective Way to Embolden Insurgents, Stan Moore

The people of Iraq will be angry that they have lost control of their own resources and the new law will guarantee profits to the companies while giving little to the country.  Already the Kurds are voicing objections.  This can only lead to more Iraqi’s joing the insurgency.

OPEC would be weakened by the withdrawal of one of its key producers from the OPEC quota system:

“Depending on how things shape up in the next few months, Western oil companies could end up controlling the country’s output levels, or the government, heavily influenced by the United States, could even pull out of the cartel entirely.  Both independent analysts and officials within Iraq’s Oil Ministry anticipate that when all is said and done, the big winners in Iraq will be the Big Four—the American firms Exxon-Mobile and Chevron, the British BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell.” Bush’s Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq’s Oil, Joshua Holland

It is likely that we will be mired down in Iraq for decades to come in order to protect our interests.  If the United States pulled its troops out prematurely and surrendered the country to insurgents, President Bush has been warning audiences, it would effectively hand over Iraq’s considerable petroleum reserves to terrorists who would use it as a weapon against other countries. 

“An indefinite occupation is obviously the White House’s plan, in light of news that the Iraqi government is about to push through a deal giving foreign oil companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Chevron the right to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves,” said Fred Vitale, Michigan Green candidate for State Representative (District 3) in the 2006 election. “High U.S. troop levels will be necessary for years to come to make it profitable for these corporations to drill for and export Iraqi oil. Furthermore, rage in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be inflamed as Iraqis witness the theft of their resources.” Troop Surge + Oil Grab by U.S. Firms = War Without End, Green Party


What is going on in Iraq?  Why are we at war with Iraq?  The supposed reasons for our engagement in this war have all proven to be false.  The leaders of our government have lied to the American people leading to a disastrous war with large losses of human lives.

Iraq was not involved in 9/11 and in fact there is compelling evidence that the Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq’s oil before the 9/11 attacks.

There were no WMD’s.

Saddam Hussein was only one of many tyrants around the world, and arguably not even the worst.  Most of the current repressive regimes around the world are still propped up by the U.S.

From the beginning of this conflict there have been accusations that this war is about oil and the control of the world’s oil supply.  It has been pointed out that a National Security Council document shown in a 60 Minutes interview, clearly drafted in the early weeks of the new administration, which showed plans for the post-invasion dispersal of Iraq’s oil assets among the world’s great powers, starting with the major oil companies.

  “That NSC document told 60 Minutes’ vast audience the attack on Iraq was not about national security in the wake of 9/ll. It was not about weapons of mass destruction. It was not about Saddam Hussein’s possible ties to Osama bin Laden. It was about stealing Iraq’s oil, same way the British stole it three quarter of a century earlier. The major oil companies drew up the map, handed it to their man George, helped him (through such trusties as James Baker) steal the 2000 election and then told him to get on with the attack.” Bush, Oil & Iraq: Some Truth at Last, Alexander Cockburn

“The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. “So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies,” he said.” Future of Iraq: the Spoils of War, Danny Fortson

It is not just a few critics who have connected the Iraq war and oil.  According to a recent Zogby poll most Americans believe that oil had at least something to do with this war with Iraq. 

The U.S. government has denied this “The only interest the United States has in the region is furthering the cause of peace and stability, not in [Iraq’s] ability to generate oil,” White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said in late 2002.

After all the other justifications for the war in Iraq were debunked, President Bush in a speech to the nation from Fort Bragg in 2005 said:// 

“Our mission in Iraq is clear. We’re hunting down the terrorists. We’re helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We’re advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.”

In June of 2005 a PEW poll showed that most Americans believe the war in Iraq has undermined the war on terrorism.

If the goal is to establish a stable, democratic government in the Middle East that will serve as a beacon drawing other countries to want to emulate the success of that country, then why not use the much more practical (and less costly in human lives and money) method of providing support to one of the more stable regimes in the area? 

Immediately after 9/11 the U.S. had the sympathy of the entire world.  Even in Tehran, Iran hundreds of thousands turned out for a demonstration to support the U.S.  Today, world public opinion has turned against the U.S. and we are seen as a dangerous nation.  How did things go so wrong and world public opinion reverse itself so dramatically. 

It is suspicious that everywhere we are ready to fight the people are sitting on top of large deposits of oil.  In the case of Iraq after all the other rationalizations have proven false, there does not seem to be any rationalization left except control of the OIL resources, a form of economic colonialism.

“With U.S. consumption projected to increase 1/3 over the next 20 years-two-thirds of which will be imported by 2020 - the name of the game is reserves. The bulk of those reserves lie in the Middle East. Between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the Gulf States control 65 percent of the world’s reserves, or close to 600 billion barrels. In comparison, the U.S. reserves are a little under 23 billion.  Whoever controls these reserves essentially controls the world’s economy.” The Oil Connection, Conn Hallinan[/ur]

__As citizens of a democratic country who are able to raise our voices, we need to look at the current situation carefully and make thoughtful decisions as to how best to respond in order to encourage our leaders to fulfill their obligations, and to demand accountability for the actions of our leaders.  Our leaders need to know that we can [url=]fire them.

Controlling our own energy consumption to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and establishing friendly relations with other countries would seem to be more likely to provide a positive long term outcome.  War is not the answer to our current dependence on oil.  It is obvious that we cannot “win” in Iraq.  In order to maintain any control we will have to maintain a very long-term military presence and continue to make enemies of the Iraqi people, more and more of whom will become “insurgents” as the occupation drags on.  To be certain that the oil can be moved the Straits of Hormuz will need to be kept clear requiring either peaceful relations or war with Iran.  Such a move would have only one definite result and that would be to completely destroy any hope of peaceful relations between “the West” and “the Islamic” world.  Where will this military solution to our economic problems end?  Will we go to war with all of the OPEC countries? 

Are there any options that would actually accomplish the goals of encouraging democracy, stabilizing the Middle East, improving our relationships with other countries, and allow us the possibility of an exit from Iraq?  There is a win-win option that is possible.

“Many Iraqis want to privatize the Iraqi oil industry by issuing equal shares of stock to every resident of the country, so that every Shi’a, Kurd, and Sunni would hold equal stakes in the future of the country by owning equal shares of voting, non-alienable stock.  This would give them an incentive to cooperate in a political confederation and to support the confederal government that made this possible.  You can bet that the first thing they would want to do is to join OPEC.  This is why the oil industry titans should support such decentralization of economic power in Iraq, rather than uselessly worrying about power slipping out of their control.  Economic democracy is the only sure basis for political democracy, and political democracy is the soundest basis for partnership.” Big Profits for Big Oil: A Bogus Rationale for The War in Iraq, Dr. Robert Dickson Crane


This proposal has been spelled out in great detail by the Center for Economic Justice in a report titled:  “A New Model of Nation Building for the Citizens of Iraq” which is available on their website.

The introduction to this proposal offers a glimmer of hope:

“More than two years after the U.S. and coalition forces invaded Iraq and captured Saddam Hussein, the cost of the war today, in blood and dollars, continues to mount.

The June 30, 2004 transfer of “sovereignty” to the Iraqi people has not yet brought about a government that can secure the “life, liberty and property” of its citizens. There is still no clear exit strategy for U.S. troops that would avoid leaving Iraq in chaos and civil war. No official plan for economic reconstruction been offered by the U.S., its allies, or the U.N. that could unify the various factions in Iraq and provide for a broad sharing of ownership and economic power among all Iraqi citizens.

The Bush Administration continues to push for political democracy in Iraq. There is, however, mounting skepticism among critics that political democracy can work in the Islamic world. The ongoing war in Iraq has proven that any plan for political democracy is insufficient without a viable plan for building economic democracy. Such a plan requires an Iraqi model of what President Bush called an “ownership society.”

Tailoring it to the specific circumstances of Iraq, the Iraqi political and religious leadership should unleash a bold “Peace through Justice” offensive to reinforce the government’s counter-terrorism initiatives. This paper offers a specific “first step” proposal with a powerful message that, if properly communicated by respected Iraqi leaders, cannot fail to capture the attention and raise the hopes of every Iraqi. Centered on who should own and receive profits from the nation’s oil resources, this proposal deserves serious consideration by thoughtful leaders and citizens ready to explore a truly different paradigm that is consistent with Islam, one based on ownership and economic justice for every citizen.

With the vacuum of ideas being filled by growing hatred and bloodshed, the time has come to consider the concept of the Abraham Federation and ask, “Why not?”

It is time to remember the words of Martin Luther King who said “A time comes whe silence is betrayal.”






Further reading:

01/07 The Demonization of Muslims and the Battle for Oil
01/07 The Future of Iraq, the Spoils of War
01/07 Troop Surge + Oil Grab by U.S. Firms = War Without End
01/07 Blood and Oil: How the West Will Profit
01/07 Usurping Iraqi Sovereignty: an Effective Way to Embolden Insurgents
01/07 The Politics of Cheap Oil
01/07 Oil Profits Key to Bush’s Definition of Victory
01/07 Big Oil, Big Brother Win Big in State of the Union
01/07 Why the U.S. Is Not Leaving Iraq
01/07 New Oil Law Means Victory for Bush
01/07 Most Americans Think Iraq War Had Something to Do With Oil - Zogby Poll
10/06 Bush’s Petro Cartel Almost Has Iraq’s Oil
01/07 Iraq’s Billions and the White House Connection
03/06 Lessons of Iraq War Start With U.S. History
05/06 Oil Diplomacy
01/06 The Rip Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth
07/05 Cheney’s Boundless Iraq Profiteering
05/05 U.S. Backed Illegal Iraqi Oil Deals,3604,1485546,00.html
03/05 Secret U.S. Plans for Iraq’s Oil
03/05 The Epic Struggle for World Hegemony
07/04 The Real Reasons Bush Went to War,3604,1270414,00.html
06/04 The Multimillion Dollar Reconstruction Robbery,5673,1247887,00.html
06/04 Iraqis Fail to Gain Control of Oil Revenue
03/04 Cheney, energy and Iraq invasion Supreme Court to rule on secrecy
02/04 Iraq Oil Money Funded British MP’s Campaigns,12956,1149796,00.html
01/04 Democracy or Oilocracy
01/04 The Politics of Oil
01/04 Bush, Oil, and Iraq
11/03 Oil Companies in Iraq: A Century of Rivalry and War
10/03 Oil, War, and Panic
08/03 Democracy, Islam, and Oil
07/03 White House energy task forcepapers reveal Iraqi oil maps
07/03 Experts Grow More Skeptical About Threat of Saddam Before War,2763,993004,00.html
06/03 Deceived Into war
06/03 Is Lying About the Reasons for War an Impeachable Offense?
06/03 Ten Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq
05/03 US says Halliburton Deal Includes Operating Iraq Oil Fields
05/03 Halliburton’s Iraq Role Expands
05/03 Iraq’s Crude Awakening,9171,1101030519-450939,00.html
05/03 Bush’s Deep Reasons for War on Iraq
05/03 Bush’s Conquest of Iraqi Oil
05/03 It’s the Oil Stupid
04/03 Israel Seeks Pipeline for Iraqi Oil,2763,940250,00.html
04/03 Case for War Built on Fake Reports Says Blix
04/03 American to Oversee Iraqi Oil Industry
04/03 Plan for Iraq Not Reconstruction but Robbery
o4/03 A New Colonial Oppression
03/03 Oil Firms Discuss Their Stake in Iraq’s Oil
03/03 The Empire Needs New Clothes
03/03 The Thirty Year Itch
12/02 Oil, Iraq, and America
11/02 The Rush for Iraq’s Oil
11/02 Iraqi Oil, American Bonanza
11/02 Carve Up of Oil Riches Begins,6903,825103,00.html
11/02 Saudi’s Fear Iraq War May Endanger Their Relationship With U.S.
10/02 In Iraq War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue
10/02 Iraq Invasion, the Road to Folly
10/02 Oil Has Always Been At Top of Bush’s Foreign Policy Agenda
09/02 Word from the CIA: It’s the Oil Stupid
09/02 Oil Firms Wait as Crisis Unfolds
09/02 A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West
08/02 Corporate Interest in Iraqi Oil
11/01 Oil Still Turns the Wheel of U.S. Foreign Policy
07/01 Deadly Deception, Pretexts for War
01/01 Oil and the Bush Cabinet
07/00 Dick Cheney: Oil and Politics Do Mix

Article Collection on Oil and Politics
Chart - Where Is the World’s Oil
Center for Economic Justice - A New Model of Nation Building for the Citizens of Iraq
Center for Economic Justice - Extending the Abraham Model, a Just Third Way for Bringing Democracy to the Iraqi People
Global Policy Forum Report on Oil in Iraq
Iraq Oil and Economy