Friday, September 21, 2007

It was the oil, stupid!

CHEVRON tanker named after
Condoleeza Rice

IN case no one had guessed it, the man who was in charge of America's money when George Dubya decided to invade Iraq, confirmed last week what he had told people in private at the time: "the Iraq War is largely about oil".

As reported by Bob Woodward in the Washington Post:

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," saif former Federal Reserve bank head Alan Greenspan in a newspaper interview . "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential."

Greenspan said that in his discussions with the President and Vice President Dick Cheney, "I have never heard them basically say, 'We've got to protect the oil supplies of the world,' but that would have been my motive." Greenspan said that he made his economic argument to White House officials and that one lower-level official, whom he declined to identify, told him, "Well, unfortunately, we can't talk about oil."

Asked if he had made his point to Cheney specifically, Greenspan said yes, then added, "I talked to everybody about that."Greenspan said he had backed Hussein's ouster, either through war or covert action. "I wasn't arguing for war per se," he said. But "to take [Hussein] out, in my judgment, it was something important for the West to do and essential, but I never saw Plan B" -- an alternative to war. Greenspan's reference in "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World" to what he calls the "politically inconvenient" fact that the war was "largely about oil" was reported by The Washington Post on Saturday and has proved controversial.

He says he agreed with Bush about the danger of Iraq possessing weaposs of mass destruction , but his main support for Saddam Hussein's ouster was economically motivated. "If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands," Greenspan said, "our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first gulf war. And the second gulf war is an extension of the first. My view is that Saddam, looking over his 30-year history, very clearly was giving evidence of moving towards controlling the Straits of Hormuz, where there are 17, 18, 19 million barrels a day" passing through.Greenspan said disruption of even 3 to 4 million barrels a day could translate into oil prices as high as $120 a barrel -- far above even the recent highs of $80 set last week -- and the loss of anything more would mean "chaos" to the global economy.Given that, "I'm saying taking Saddam out was essential," he said. But he added that he was not implying that the war was an oil grab."No, no, no," he said.

Getting rid of Hussein achieved the purpose of "making certain that the existing system [of oil markets] continues to work, frankly, until we find other [energy supplies], which ultimately we will."

Greenspan's comparative honesty seemed refreshing, after hearing some of our politicians claiming the war was about everything except oil, or indeed listening to some of those critics of the war who claim it wasn't in American interests (The blame-it-on-Israel's Lobby conspiracy theorists who given time, may yet explain why the preceding century or more of US imperialism was similarly altruistic, or due to bad advisers).

But what Greenspan had to say was not the whole truth, and nor was it nothing-but-the-truth. After all, Saddam Hussein was not intent on cutting off the world's oil supplies. On the contrary, Iraq needed to sell all the oil it could to get around sanctions and try to rebuild its economy. It was when the Iraqi government announced that it would accept the Euro in place of the mighty dollar, that America decided to make its move. Washington already had plans to take over Iraqi oil, well before 9/11. But it did not just want the oil, it wanted to control the oil, and through it, along with its Saudi and other interests, to dictate to the world's economy.

When Greenspan talks about the the oil supplies "of the world", and its "importance to the West", he does not admit that maybe the rest of the world and even "the West" might not have identified their interests with those of the United States, let alone of big US oil companies; that French and German leaders might have had perfectly rational reasons for seeing things differently.

There have been quite a few articles and publications about Iraq and oil, here's two I chanced on while searching just now:,,2151588,00.html

As arguments continue over both causes and effects of the Iraq war, one American critic commented that for 'Big Oil' it was a "win/win situation" - if the war succeeded the US companies would be able to help themselves to Iraqi oil. If it failed the effect on the world oil price would still be to their profit. For the rest of us it was a no-win situation.

Continuing to push his book, Greenspan warned this week that effect of rising oil prices and other costs could help push America and the rest of the world into crisis and recession - or he reassured readers that the danger of America undergoing recession was not as great as he had predicted earlier this year (depending whether your news media report took a half-empty or half-full interpretation of what the former Federal Reserve boss had to say.
Greenspan was specific about one issue - as millions of Americans face losing their homes and savings the government must resist the temptation to increase social spending. That's a banker speaking.

'Greenspan said he expects more mortgage delinquencies and home foreclosures in store in U.S. and global housing markets.

"I think we're going to have to go through this adjustment, as indeed all the other countries are in the process of going through it. There are going to be a lot of people who will have very tragic stories," he said'.

Do YOU want RICE with THAT?

One item I seem to have missed in the British media, even after doing a search, so
though it is a few months old and has appeared on several American blogs I am recirculating it here:

A side of Rice in the oil-for-food scandal? By: Steve Benen on Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 at 9:00 AM - PDT url = '';

For many conservatives, the U.N.’s oil-for-food scandal was an assault on all that is good and holy. In a nutshell, Saddam Hussein took advantage of a U.N. program in which Iraq would sell oil and use the revenue for food, medicine, and humanitarian goods, as exceptions to a trade embargo imposed after the first Gulf War. Saddam, however, received illegal kickbacks on the oil sales, which he transferred to private accounts. And who was giving Saddam the illegal kickbacks? According to a New York Times report, Chevron is poised to announce that it should have known about the kickbacks that were being paid to Saddam. If only Chevron had some kind of internal policy committee, as part of the company’s board of directors, with a knowledgeable expert responsible for looking out for these kinds of problems. Oh wait, it did — and it was led by Condoleezza Rice.
According to the Volcker report, surcharges on Iraqi oil exports were introduced in August 2000 by the Iraqi state oil company, the State Oil Marketing Organization. At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company. Ms. Rice resigned from Chevron’s board on Jan. 16, 2001, after being named national security advisor by President Bush.

George Galloway could have called her as a witness.

Incidentally, though Rice this week was quoted as saying there must be progress towards a Palestinian state, she did not go so far as to comment on Israel declaring the entire Gaza strip "hostile territory" and cutting its water, electricity and gas supplies. Causing more misery, death and suffering to old people, the sick and children - that'll learn them terrorists firing home-made rockets! Cutting essential supplies to civilians used to be called a war crime, but when you're Israel, you're America's favourite and don't have to listen to the UN.

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