Thursday 30 January 2003

Big Oil pushes the White House for a war with Iraq

Never has there been a better time to be an oil baron. The car-owning masses of the world pay whatever it takes to fill their tanks. The money flows so freely it can buy and sell even the most destructive environmental policy. And if interests are threatened, just ask your old friend George to rally the troops and march into war. We'd just like to ask: after US$200 billion and unknown military and civilian casualties, will the world be a safer place? Or just an even better place to be an oil baron?

Ever since former oil-man George W. Bush came to the White House, well before September 11th, his administration was announcing that the US faced an energy-supply crisis. Although there is little evidence to support this, Bush made it a cornerstone of his policies.

Coincidentally, Iraq has the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world, but its production has been severely reduced since the Gulf War, due to effects of economic sanctions and the destruction of infrastructure. Rebuilding that infrastructure and increasing production will take years. Oil executives hungrily eyeing those reserves are enthusiastic to take on that work.

And they've never had such close ties to the White House. For Vice President Dick Cheney, this may well be round two for his post-war dealings with Iraq. Cheney is a former head of Halliburton, the world's largest oil service contractor. In August 2000 Cheney publicly stated that, as the head of Halliburton, "I had a firm policy that I wouldn't do anything in Iraq, even arrangements that were supposedly legal." And yet, as the Financial Times eventually proved, Cheney oversaw $23.8 million in sales to Iraq in 1998 and 1999.

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