THE WAR THAT WON'T STOP
[Col. Writ. 9/29/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal
There has been a blizzard of books released about the ill-fated Iraq War.
Some have been penned by Bush insiders; others by outsiders.
Such is the blizzard that the net result is often confusion, for each is written from the perspective of the writer, and to project or protect one side or the other.
Well, here's another one for ya. Now comes Greg Palast, the irascible author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2004), whose newest work is a broad, if irreverent, look at not just the Iraq disaster, but also the nation's economic debacle, and other perfidies of the governing classes. Palast's new book is: Armed Madhouse (New York: Dutton, 2006).
Palast is perhaps best known for his BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) reports on the stolen elections in Florida, and the subsequent assaults on democracy in 2004, in Ohio, and beyond.
What hit me, however, was his analysis of the conflicting interests in the Bush administration on the Iraq invasion and occupation. One side, he argues, wanted to use the Iraq takeover as a massive tool to crack OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), and by so doing, kick the Saudis out of the driver's seat, and flood the market with cheap oil. The second option was a relatively modest invasion, the installation of a dutifully obedient puppet, but hands off oil, except to control its flow.
According to Palast, the objective was never to take the oil, but to control it, and thereby moderate its flow.
By so doing, this would keep the price at a high level, based on the principle that plenty would bring prices too low.
"In the short term, Iraq's fields were trashed even before saboteurs torched them. The CIA and the Pentagon knew it no matter what (Paul) Wolfowitz said to bobble-headed Congressmen. In the long run, however, many years from now, Iraq, with 114 billion barrels of proven reserves, might be able to crank up above its OPEC quota.
"*But that won't happen*. The globe is littered with the economic skeletons of nations that fragrantly busted their OPEC quotas.. There's the skeleton of Venezuela. In 1973, Venezuela broke the first Arab oil boycott. But in 1997, when Venezuela again ramped up production, punishment was swift. Saudi Arabia, which can live without big oil revenues for up to a year, opened its spigots and drowned the market. The price of oil dropped to $8 a barrel and Venezuela went bankrupt. Its government fell. The current President of that nation, Hugo Chavez, is now a good member of OPEC, indeed its most fanatic adherent to the quota system." (pp. 86-87)
This was a war, Palast explains, not to get oil, so much as it was to keep goo-gobs of oil in the ground!
The rarer a commodity, the higher its price.
In fall, 2005, Exxon Oil raked in $9.9 billion, net. It made more profit during its third quarter than in the history of money! Now why would they want to threaten that?
The guy makes one hell of a point.
These were wars of capital, with the army, air force, and generals, but
footmen for big businesses.
This was a 'war for oil', as millions of protesters screamed in spring, 2003. But not the way we thought it.
It was a war to make more profits, profits that have only grown since the war began -- till now.
Hey, Congress belongs to the corporations. Why shouldn't the army?
In a real sense, oil explains everything, in ways that other explanations do not.
It seamlessly slips throughout the political, theological, and military justifications for the carnage in Iraq, and emerges as the only consistent rationale for this continuing disaster, which seems to so
easily elude logic.
Reading Palast's latest book, I thought of a quote from the book, The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant: "...[T]he men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all." [p. 54]
This hot, deadly war is but a front in the invisible economic war.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal