Critics of Bush and Cheney May Be Too Generous
...Perhaps the critics are too generous when they suspect merely political gamesmanship or settling a score for dad, for the allies and enemies that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney choose are exactly those of the oil industry they still serve.
Iraq crossed western oil corporations 30 years ago, and the oil executives have long memories. In 1972, Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath party nationalized the oil holdings of the Iraq Petroleum Company, which actually was owned by a group of western oil companies including Royal Dutch and American and French firms.
The U.S. and Britain launched an embargo of Iraq in an attempt to persuade Hussein to re-privatize oil - a tactic that succeeded for the U.S. when it embargoed Iran in retaliation for nationalizing its oil industry in 1951. In that case the economic squeeze was topped off with a CIA-assisted coup and "regime change," which instituted the Shah as the new leader in 1953. Obediently, the Shah agreed to let British and American oil companies take over oil production again.
But when the U.S. instigated an embargo against Iraq, Hussein simply found a new customer-the Soviet Union. Good timing also helped Iraq "get away" with nationalization. A year after Iraq nationalized its oil, the eleven members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to pricing solidarity and forced oil importing countries to pay dramatically more for oil. The OPEC cartel gained the upper hand in negotiating with western oil companies and insulated Iraq from economic attack.
[...] Western oil companies still aim to repossess Iraq's oil, and they need Hussein removed to do it. So it shouldn't surprise us that Bush's war drums haven't missed a beat even after Hussein conceded to the return of U.N. weapons inspectors in September.
Mr. Bush seems to continue our tendency to base alliances less on a nation's degree of democracy, peacefulness, or freedom than whether they open markets to transnational corporations. Thus, China gets friendly relations while Cuba gets sanctions and Iraq gets threats of annihilation.
It's a serious decision to send our soldiers to war to defend our national security; for Mr. Bush to send them into battle to serve corporate oil interests would be tantamount to treason.
Excerpted. Devin Nordberg writes for ReclaimDemocracy.org, a non-profit organization working to restore citizen authority over corporations. 10/11/02.
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