Democratic Underground

Bombing Iraq To Keep Oil Prices High
March 7, 2001
by Kkeg

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!


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