It Really Is About the Oil - And
Not Only in Iraq
by Ron Jacobs
www.zmag.org, September 21, 2007
So, the secret is finally out. The Iraq
war and occupation is about oil! Alan Greenspan, the man on whom
the capitalist press has conferred the title of sage numerous
times, says exactly that in his memoirs released this week. Of
course, many folks around the world have assumed this for years
but, even so, it's nice to hear it from one of Washington's own.
It was the concern of those that pull the strings on Wall Street
and in DC that Saddam Hussein represented a severe threat to their
access to oil that prompted the war. According to George Bush
and his henchmen, it is the concern that anti-US "extremists"
also threaten that access that causes the war and occupation to
continue. Of course, these so-called extremists seemed to be primarily
composed of Iraqi nationalists who simply want to control their
own destinies and not leave them up to a small handful of men
with offices in the Green Zone whose lives and livelihood depend
on the continued presence of US forces on Iraqi soil.
Oil and other energy resources are also
the reason Washington is threatening Iran. There are other factors
certainly, not least among them a desire for revenge on the Iranian
revolution, but the fundamental motivation for the US threats
of military action against Iran is to replace the current regime
in Tehran with one that will do Washington's bidding and provide
them with access to that nation's oil on terms set by DC, not
Tehran. That is why the US overthrew Mossadegh back in 1953 and
why it supported the Shah even after he was overthrown in 1979.
Iran is estimated to have the world's fifth largest oil reserve
and second largest natural gas supply. But, if this is so, then
why can't the US just buy the stuff from them? It could, of course,
but that would go against the stated desire of Washington to not
only have unfettered access to energy resources, but to also be
able to prevent potential competitors from having similar access.
In other words, the men and women that run the US want exclusive
control over the energy resources of Iraq and Iran and the only
way they can get that is through military action, since Hussein
was not going to agree to US terms for oil sales and neither will
the Tehran regime.
Yet, despite the apparent desires of Dick
Cheney and his band of bellicose Beltway warriors, that military
action has yet to occur. While the world can certainly be thankful
for that, it shouldn't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. In some
of his recent comments on Iraq, George Bush stated that one of
the reasons for the continued occupation of Iraq is the need to
contain Iran. No matter what one thinks about the government in
Tehran, the plain truth is that they have every right to be concerned
about the future of Iraq. Just as certain is that they have the
right to defend themselves from aggressive actions from groups
supported by Washington. Likewise, they have the right to reject
Washington's impending designation of their Revolutionary Guards
as a terrorist force. After all, if all things were fair, then
a similar designation should be given to the CIA and the US military's
various special forces, all of whom are known to engage in what
are essentially terrorist activities.
What about Israel? There are those that
insist that Israel is behind the US drive against Iran and Syria.
According to these folks, it is Tel Aviv's desire for a greater
Israel that is the guiding force behind Washington's occupation
of Iraq, its threats against Syria and desire to attack Iran.
While it is certainly true that Tel Aviv might benefit from regime
changes in these nations and there is no doubt that most of the
US political establishment supports Israeli expansion, it seems
downright foolish to claim that US policy in the Middle East and
Central Asia is set by Tel Aviv. After all, it is Tel Aviv that
receives military and financial support from Washington, not the
other way around. This does not always mean that the two governments
agree on specifics, but it does mean that they share both resources
and a desire to create a world beneficial to them both. Still,
however, Washington is the dominant member of this relationship,
if for no other reason than that its financial support of Israel
makes it possible for Israel to exist as the regional power that
it is. Furthermore, it is the perennial veto held by Washington
(and its refusal to demand enforcement of Security Council resolutions
against Israel that Washington doesn't veto) that has allowed
Israel to continue its violations of international law without
retribution. This doesn't mean, of course, that Israel will not
act alone, but the fact that it hasn't is certainly an indication
that Washington holds the leash in this relationship and not Tel
Aviv. Poorly-behaved dogs will pull at their chains and maybe
even bite their masters, but they also never forget the hand that
provides them with their chow.
Just like in Iraq, any attack on Iran
will probably not target oil producing facilities. Indeed, should
an attack occur and actually succeed to the point where the US
is able to bring in ground forces, it is fairly safe to predict
that many of the first GIs on the ground will be deployed to guard
those facilities, just like they were in Iraq. As retired general
Wesley Clark put it in an op-ed in the September 16, 2007 Washington
Post: "To prevent world oil prices from soaring, you'd have
to try to protect every oil and gas rig, and the big ports and
load points. "Of course, there is also the possibility that
the facilities might already be under the control of the oil workers
themselves, much like what occurred during the revolution in 1979-1981.
Would these workers then become the enemy of the US-led "liberation"
forces-the same position that many of the citizens of Iraq now
find themselves? If so, one wonders what they have learned from
their neighbors to the west in regards to the US military.