Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney’s 2001 energy task force? One can’t know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of ‘executive privilege’. One can’t say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive. But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.The writer politely suggests that we should be sceptical of such post-facto analysis, since such clever plans rarely work out as envisioned.
But he omits one very important detail: the invasion was both immoral and illegal. And that should surely be the key to unravelling the whole sorry thing, restoring justice, and putting the criminal perpetrators behind bars.
Of course, ending the war on this basis assumes that the ordinary people of the USA are informed enough, and decent and honorable enough, to do the right thing and give the oil back to the Iraqis. Will they do that, or just turn a blind eye to this wicked crime?
And what about here in Australia? Howard has repeatedly implied that the main reason we Aussies are in Iraq is to support our key ally, the USA, and save them from the "embarrassment" of defeat. Does that mean we will get a cut of the oil revenues, or cheap oil via special deals with US distributors, or access to a few Iraqi oil wells for our own selected companies? What's OUR bribe, Johnny??? Of course, Howard cannot even speculate on such things because the whole damned business is so totally unspeakable.
So we plod on, we affluent Western citizens of the 21st Century, pretending that this great crime never happened. The pages of our newspapers are filled with empty spaces. Our television news is full of silence.
The truth has been hooded, bound, duct-taped and water-boarded. Welcome to the New World Order.