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Blood without Oil

Thomas Pany | 04.10.2005 13:10 | Anti-militarism | World

Security is political not military, the UN has emphasized. The US strategy to secure the iraqi oil supply with military action is an illusion.


Iraq: The False Belief in Force

By Thomas Pany

[This article published in the German-English cyber-journal Telepolis, 9/22/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

It will take at least five years until Iraq can produce a substantial quantity of oil, the chairperson (1) of a large British drilling company predicted a few days ago. What the US imagined before the outbreak of the Iraq war in the spring of 2003 – that Iraqi oil production would pay for the rebuilding of the country – has not proven true. On the contrary, an American expert claims (2) that production has fallen below the pre-war level and that nothing can quickly change this. The case of Iraq demonstrates that the US strategy to secure the oil supply with military action is an illusion.

Whatever role oil played in the US invasion, whether secondary, minor or primary [cf. “Blood for Oil” (3)], the security of the oil supply did not first play a dominant role in the American strategy toward the countries in the Middle East since George W. Bush and his Vice Cheney (both with the best connections to the American oil industry), according to American professor Michael T. Klare (4).

One pillar of this policy, Klare says, is the “dogma” that military force is an effective means for controlling the sources of oil in the countries of this region. In a speech at the end of August, president George Bush echoed this credo when he said that the presence of American troops in Iraq protects the sources of oil from the terrorists’ grasp. (5)

Two years after the invasion, the use of military force could have the opposite effect. Access to Iraqi oil has become difficult. The optimistic assumptions, for example of the American Department of Energy (DoE) at the end of 2002 that Iraqi oil production would double daily from 2.5 million barrels of oil to 5 million have been overtaken by a bitter reality.

“If there is a regime change in Iraq, 3 to 5 million barrels will be added every day. A successful war would be good for the economy.”
Larry Lindsey, former top economic advisor of the president in September 2002

This calculation is turned upside down with a daily production of 1.9 million barrels a day – May 2005 – and billions of dollars of war costs. In January 2003, the production was still at 2.6 million barrels daily. This was reason enough for the American professor Michael T. Klare to identify the causes for the disastrous miscalculation.

Klare finds one cause in the military-strategic concentration of the US command on securing the oil supply at the beginning of the Iraq war. The first military operation in this war in the middle of March 2003 was the conquest of an oil-loading platform off the Iraqi coast. In the initial moments of the war marked by plundering, the US army had too few soldiers to protect important institutions and infrastructure of the country from plundering. Nevertheless the oil ministry and important oil facilities were protected. In Klare’s view, this was a serious mistake since it had a far-reaching symbolic effect on the Iraqis and could motivate the resistance. The picture of American invaders intent only on the greatest treasure of Iraq, its oil, was confirmed.

At the beginning of September 2005, the Pipeline Watch (6) of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security registered far more than 250 attacks on pipelines, oil facilities, workers of the Iraqi oil industry and guards etc. The acts of sabotage reduce oil production in Iraq. Despite the deployment of its own task force to protect pipelines and facilities, absolute security against acts of sabotage cannot be guaranteed

The uncertain situation makes the restoration and urgently necessary modernization (7) of installations and pipelines much more difficult than it is technically anyhow. Foreign investors are scared away. A vicious circle arises. In addition, some divert oil for black market businesses (8). The picture of the Iraqi mess continues in this area that was so promising when one adds the corruption recently reaching public attention in connection with the use of oil revenues (9).

The United States must recall this disillusioning failure of the military campaign in Iraq, Professor Klare admonishes, if dependent on more and more oil imports it tries to establish new military bases in Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and Africa in following its old credo of the military security of oil supplies.

Thomas Pany
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