It took an article from the distant New Zealand Herald (via
a reader) to tell me Oil giants to profit from law change.
That is, the third largest reserves in the world are about to be fed to the
Western oil lions under another sell-out law that the Iraqi Parliament will
vote on in days. Of course, the US government had a grease-stained hand in
drawing up the law, a draft of which the NZ Herald got to see early on. God
forbid the New York Times or Washington Post should know . . .
But Big Oil�s Boyz, BP, Shell and Exxon will get 30-year
contracts to suck up the crude and permit the first large-scale operation of
foreign oil hands on Iraq since the industry was nationalized in 1972. And you
were wondering if they really were bombing Iraq into the Stone Age for oil.
This should put an end to your suspicions.
But then the Herald reminds us Vice President Dick Cheney
said in 1999, while still chief exec of oil services company Halliburton, "that
the world would thirst for an additional 50 million barrels a day by 2010."
So where would the oil come from? Prophetically, he announced, "The Middle
East, with two-thirds of the world�s oil and the lowest cost, is still where
the prize ultimately lies." Thus spake the Cheney, spouting oil wells in
the reflection of his outsize glasses.
Naturally, the oil executives claim that the "law"
to permit Western companies to loot up to three-quarters of the profits in the
early years is the only way to get Iraq�s oil industry back on its feet, before
we kick it down with sanctions, more war and loss of technical expertise. Ah,
but don�t go away feeling like The Ugly
American, like your country is nasty.
We will move forward through �production-sharing agreements�
(PSAs), unusual in the Middle East, where the oil business in Saudi Arabia and
Iran, the world�s two biggest producers, is state controlled. At least, theirs
is a semblance of autonomy, even though the Saudis are in our bag, the latter,
who knows, on the way.
PSAs permit a country to hold on to legal ownership of its
oil, but hands out a share of profits to foreign companies that invest in
infrastructure as well operation of wells, pipelines and refineries. Of course,
we�ve invested, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz,
some $2 trillion in the cost of the Iraq war, all things on and off the books
Critics say that Iraq, where oil sustains 95 percent of the
economy, is being held up, forced to give up an unacceptable (illegal?) share
of sovereignty. What do you think?
Yet, let us remember those dark days of 2003, when Tony "the
mouthpiece" Blair said nay to the "false claim" that "we
want to seize" Iraq�s oil income. He wanted the money put into a trust
fund. What like our Social Security? Well, it would be run by the UN, but the
idea went nowhere.
That same year, then Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "It
cost a great deal of money to prosecute the war." [I love the verb]. "But
the oil of the Iraqi people" [speaking of prosecution], "belongs to
the Iraqi people; it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we
did not do it for oil." That�s okay, CP, the check is in the mail.
I remember, if I may inject a personal anecdote, asking
guest speaker Mario Cuomo at the 92nd Street Y, if indeed Iraq wasn�t about
seizing it�s oil, and he gave me a huge "ohhhh nooooo," and
filibustered for 10 minutes, till it was safe enough to ask for the next
question. By then the audience had fallen asleep. And he�s a Democrat.
Anyhow, the provision�s backers say the 75 percent take on
the profits will go on until drilling costs have been recouped. Err, that could
take a couple of years right? After that, the Oil Boyz would skim about 20
percent of the profits. But that will double the industry skim for such deals.
Tony Soprano would whip you up a frying pan of sausage and peppers for an offer
But Greg Muttitt, a researcher for Platform, one of this
nagging human rights and environmental groups which sticks its wise nose in the
oil biz, said in so many words Iraq was being screwed, i.e., asked to pay an
enormous price over the next three decades for the very instability we created.
And they get screwed because, basically, they don�t have the clout to really
bargain for the terms of any deal, including being let the hell alone.
Remember, the placement of Saddam as Iraq�s gangsta leader
came from GHW Bush, as well as leading him to believe he could steal Kuwait to
fill his coffers after the eight-year Iran/Iraq War. We also fed money in that
war to both sides so they�d kill each other quicker. Bonking Iraq with Gulf War
I really came when Hussein got to feeling his oats and started fluctuating OPEC
supplies and prices. A decade later, this triggered Junior's going back for
Hussein�s literal head, lying about him having Weapons of Mass Destruction to
create Operation Shock and Awfulness.
Nevertheless, Khaled Salih, spokesman for the Kurdish
Regional Government, a party to the negotiations, said the so-called Iraqi
government plans to have the skim on the books by the Ides of March. Hail
Several oil majors sent teams to Iraq to lobby for deals
before the law is rubber-stamped. The big names are not likely to invest until
the violence in Iraq calms down. Don�t worry, fellas, the cavalry is on the
Meanwhile, James Paul, executive director of the Global
Policy Forum, an international government watchdog, bow-wowed, "It is not
an exaggeration to say that the overwhelming majority of the population would
be opposed to this. To do it anyway, with minimal discussion within the (Iraqi)
Parliament is really just pouring more oil on the fire."
Liberal Democrat's Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, former
chief economist at Shell, said it was crucial that any deal would guarantee
funds to rebuild Iraq. Who would that be: Halliburton, Brown & Root, Robber
Cable added, "Although it does make sense to
collaborate with foreign investors, it is very important the terms are seen to
be fair." Yes, illusion is all. Remember "I reminded the government
that that oil belongs to the Iraqi people and the government has the
responsibility to be good stewards of that valuable asset and valuable
resource." That was our own George Bush on June 14, 2006.
Then there was Paul Wolfowitz, March, 2003: "Oil
revenues of Iraq could bring between US $50 billion and US $100 in two or three
years . . . Iraq can finance its reconstruction. And thus . . .
We have the "Surge"
And I am reading in the New
York Times Bush Plan for Iraq Requests More Troops and
More Jobs. David Sanger writes, "President Bush�s new Iraq
strategy calls for a rapid influx of forces that could add as many as 20,000
American combat troops to Baghdad, supplemented with a jobs program costing as
much as $1 billion intended to employ Iraqis in projects including painting
schools and cleaning streets, according to American officials who are piecing
together the last parts of the initiative."
One billion dollars billion for painting schools and
cleaning streets, jobs for Iraqis, uh huh. And 20,000 more combat troops to
keep the peace and close the oil deal.
Of course, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki agreed
to it all, including matching five American combat brigades that would go in at
a rate of about one a month. He would send three more Iraqi brigades to Baghdad
over the next month and a half. He likes the present placement of his head
between his shoulders. Shades of Vietnam and ARVN (Army of the Republic of
Two-thirds of the promised Iraqi force are Kurdish pesh
merga units from northern Iraq. Doubts prevail as to whether they would show up
in Baghdad and/or would quell the civil war (sectarian fighting).
This also would put Bush head-to-head with the new Congress.
Will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stand up against Big Oil and Bush Junior? How
will Bush continue to con the American people this is about democracy? Will he
call the Democrats traitors if they shut the money spigot? Who will believe we
should get in the middle of the Shiite/Sunni slicing/dicing machine?
What�s more, Sanger tells us the plan calls for more than
doubling "Provincial Reconstruction Teams," small groups of "State
Department officials empowered to coordinate local reconstruction efforts,
chiefly hiring Iraqi companies." What a novel thought. Is Bechtel busy?
The teams will be "embedded with combat brigades," in an attempt to
show Iraqis that American forces were not just occupiers. We�re pacifiers, too.
This is the "greater sacrifice" in Mr. Bush�s
speech, which he will make in his last-ditch effort "to salvage our
mission in Iraq," which is to keep Big Oil rich.
Let�s hope, after the speech that the Dems pick apart the
details of the plan to save lives, billions of dollars, and the neglected
United States economy, which is operating in the blood red. Bush will also want
to "increase our resolve" concerning "adventurism by regional
adversaries, especially Iran," Iraq�s former enemy in the eight-year war
of the 80s.
Condi Rice will go off "to shore up confidence among
Washington�s Islamic allies in the region as well as to warn its adversaries,"
leaving "for the Middle East by next weekend."
Bush is also planning to increase the number of American
military trainers working with Iraqi security forces. Where have we heard that
before? Mr. Maliki is going to renew efforts to rid the Army of sectarian
influences. He didn�t say too much about the beef-up of American forces. He
assured us "no outlaws," like Iraqi freedom fighters, could "expect
In fact, his last words were, "The Baghdad security
plan will not provide safe haven for all outlaws, regardless of their political
or sectarian identities." Uh huh. At least, they won�t have Saddam Hussein
to kick around anymore. We may be soon wishing he was still there.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New
York City. Reach him at email@example.com.