Go With the Flow


All through the Iraq buildup, war, and occupation, the U.S. government has insisted that oil had nothing to do with it.

Nobody paid much attention in May when Bush declared that even though we have no interest in oil, we now own it all anyhow. Nor did people pay attention when more recently the Bush people came up with a sorta anti-poverty program to get the “new” Iraq on its feet with a scheme to sell futures in Iraqi crude to the international industry to raise money for the nation’s reconstruction.

Last week Judicial Watch, the conservative public-interest lobby, obtained copies of documents from Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force that included maps, dated March 2001, of Iraqi oil fields as well as proposed projects and names of companies hoping to gain contracts. There were similar maps for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. That was two months before Cheney’s panel issued a report saying that Middle East oil producers “will remain central to world oil security” and argued that oil producers should open their fields to foreign investment. Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, was deeply involved in Mideast oil projects.

On the list of nations whose companies were bidding for Iraq oil were Russia, France, Canada, Australia, China, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Vietnam, and Mexico. Vietnam was close to signing a contract.

Was the U.S. interested in getting control of any of that oil? Of course not. When Dennis Kucinich rudely raised this prospect on Meet the Press on February 23, Richard Perle, one of the architects of our Iraq policy, was outraged: “Allow me to say: I find the accusation that this administration has embarked upon this policy for oil to be an outrageous, scurrilous charge for which, when you asked for the evidence, you will note there was none. There was simply the suggestion that, because there is oil in the ground and some administration officials have had connections with the oil industry in the past, therefore it is the policy of the United States to take control of Iraqi oil. It is a lie, congressman. It’s an out-and-out lie.”

Additional reporting: Phoebe St John