Will the American people continue to be taken in by a government that has failed them at every turn? On the four-year anniversary of the war in Iraq the president trotted out once again the false premises upon which this country’s pre-emptive strike was based. One would have thought some level of accountability, or even a touch of shame, for mistakes made would have caused him to refrain from reiterating baseless connections as the war entered its fifth year.
But such was not the case as he turned once again to visions of 911 and the threat of a terrorism that has only increased with our extended occupation of Iraq. And yes, as it turns out, in statement after statement our actions had a lot to do with the vast oil reserves buried deep in Iraqi soil. Spin as they will, ‘protecting our interests’ is often just code for protecting and enhancing our supply of oil.
Why it is considered our right to invade another country and access its treasure is a puzzle only thinly veiled by discussions of freedom and democracy. After the initial success of our invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein, there were signs both of why we were there and indications of problems to come. Those disturbing scenes of Iraqis roaming the streets of Baghdad looting offices and stores and making off with antiquities from the museum were dismissed by Secretary Rumsfeld who said that free people did stuff like that sometimes. However, the one place our troops were ordered to secure was the Oil Ministry. Everyone at that point should have figured out what was going on, except for the neo-cons in the White House who already knew.
Now, in addition to “the surge” and pressure on the Iraqi government to observe certain military and social bench-marks in order to assure our continued support and aid, comes news that oil is also a subject of intense pressure. And it isn’t just that our government supports the sensible goal of shared oil revenues within the country. It is rather that foreign oil companies are attempting to engineer lucrative contracts that would stand for years to come, and President Bush is ‘encouraging’ Prime Minister Maliki to accept terms that may be of questionable long-term benefit to his country.
Oil agreements now being sought by major companies like Exxon-Mobil, Shell and British Petroleum would allow them or others like them to serve on something called the Federal Oil and Gas Council – – an entity empowered to approve contracts controlling Iraq’s greatest economic asset, its oil fields. One big problem in Iraq now is that its government has no real power to tax, distribute wealth or provide employment. The agreements as they are currently structured would give “foreign firms exclusive control of fields for up to 35 years”, allow regional factions to “draw contracts with foreign oil companies” and guarantee huge profits to those companies with no requirements to reinvest in Iraq or hire Iraqi workers. WashingtonPost.com (3/11/07)
Obviously such arrangements are not vehicles for establishing a strong central government with the power to police the country and provide work and other incentives for its people. As one Sadr spokesman put it: “We would welcome any investment in our oil, but under certain circumstances. We want our oil to be developed not stolen.” (Alternet.org 3/6/07) Our reliance on surges, threats and occupation have not prepared Iraq for establishing control of their country; over-taking their national treasure will neither enhance our stature in the region nor help to create domestic tranquility out of chaos.
cant attention is paid to this issue when the surge and general conditions in Iraq are discussed. There remains a strange disconnect on the part of the media, guests on talk shows and, most certainly, the White House when it comes to evaluating what we’re about as nation. In the run-up to the war and the ensuing election Congress went along with WMD exaggerations and terror alerts; most of the media substituted “access” for investigative reporting, and most Americans were swept up in irrational war fervor encouraged by a deceitful administration.
Nowhere was the ludicrous nature of our national discourse more apparent than on Sunday’s “Meet the Press”, most especially with regard to the presence of Tom Delay hawking his book and repeating foolish bromides about staying the course, not being a patriot if you oppose the war and arguing with retired Naval Officer Sestak, recently elected to Congress from Pennsylvania. Astonishingly, people like Delay who never served in the military, feel competent to confront a decorated officer who not only served in combat but studied and understands the technical nature of military missions as well.
It is disturbing to think that someone of Delay’s low achievement and questionable service might be taken seriously as a legitimate participant in discussions about world issues. That there remain people who continue to regard notoriously tainted politicians like Delay and many of the people associated with this administration with something resembling respect is a problem for the country as we go forward. Buzzwords, platitudes, spin and propaganda should no longer be considered acceptable forms of address from our leaders and their supporters.

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