Bombing Iraq To
Keep Oil Prices High
Like so many other things, there appears to be much more
to the recent bombing of Iraq than what we have been led to
believe. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a bully,
and many people get a warm and cozy feeling when Big Bad Saddam
gets a few bombs dropped on him. Yes, siree, Saddam is The
Man Everyone Loves To Hate.
Thus, putting the Madman from Mesopotamia in his place every
once in a while is a virtually risk-free endeavor. But let's
look at the background of the two countries that were behind
the recent attack -- the US and the UK. Their leaders, George
Bush and Tony Blair, would seem to make odd bedfellows --
after all, one is quickly showing his true stripes as a right-winger,
while the other has gained a reputation as Britain's version
of a New Democrat.
But there is one thing (besides language) that they have
in common: Oil. For those of you who weren't aware of it,
the United Kingdom is one of only two countries in Europe
that is a net exporter of oil (Norway is the other). Britain
makes a lot of money by shipping its North Sea crude to other
countries, which has been one of the reasons for its prosperity
in recent years. A big drop in oil prices could seriously
affect that prosperity.
Then there's Mr. Bush, a president by rather dubious circumstances
who has surrounded himself with members of the Oil Patch Gang.
A disproportionate number of people in his inner circles have
connections with the industry, including the de facto president
Dick Cheney, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, NSC advisor Condoleeza
Rice, and the other man (besides Cheney) calling the shots,
Karl Rove. Bush has made no effort to hide the fact that he
wants to help out his buddies at Exxon, AMOCO, Marathon, etc.,
make even more money.
Oh, if only there were some sort of crisis to help jack up
the cost of crude! Well there was, kind of. The California
Crisis. Yes siree, California's electric power crisis could
have been averted if only that darned caribou herd could have
been driven off the tundra to get at the Black Gold that's
sitting underneath it.
Never mind that much less than one percent of the power in
California is generated from petroleum. Never mind that there's
only a one-in-five chance of there being any meaningful reserves
under the permafrost, or that even if it all could be taken
out, it could provide only about 3-6 months' worth of domestic
supply sometime in the distant future, and thus could do nothing
to alleviate California's problems. America needs to get that
oil, according to Mr. Bush.
However, there was (initially, at least) little support for
such a short-sighted, potentially destructive undertaking.
So how could one help out one's pals in the "struggling" oil
industry? Do something to help raise the price of Texas Tea,
of course. And a good way to do that is to keep others from
producing it. Which takes us back to Saddam.
You see, Iraq has been subjected to economic sanctions for
going on ten years now. These sanctions have done nothing
to drive Saddam from power, while the Iraqi people have suffered.
Saddam is sitting on top of a veritable treasure trove of
oil reserves, but he is not allowed to sell them, except a
little bit for "humanitarian purposes". However, it seems
that little money from these sales is actually going to help
the people who need it the most.
Therefore, there is a growing international call for lifting
these sanctions, an action which would result in a sudden
surge of oil production in the Great Rogue State -- and help
to keep downward pressure on oil prices. However, by claiming
that Saddam is still working on producing weapons of "mass
destruction", (a dubious claim, given the "effectiveness"
of those SCUD missiles in the last war -- one or two of them
even came close to hitting their target) and to "back up"
these words with a bombing campaign, may help to persuade
other countries to continue supporting these sanctions.
Heck, if Saddam is bombed enough, even his enemies in the
Arab world may start to sympathize with him, and react by
sharply curtailing oil production. Just think what a boon
THAT would be to the industry!