American Spies and Blood for Oil

Sad­dam Hus­sein was right: the U.N. teams inspect­ing Iraq did con­tain U.S. spies. His expul­sion of the teams was legit­i­mate, and the U.S. bomb­ing that fol­lowed was farce.

Karl Marx once wrote: “Hegel remarks some­where that all facts and per­son­ages of great impor­tance in world his­to­ry occur, as it were, twice. He for­got to add: the first time as tragedy, the sec­ond as farce.” We’re see­ing that today, with each suc­ces­sive mil­i­tary action by the U.S. against Iraq becom­ing ever more trans­par­ent and ridiculous.

Per­haps you haven’t heard the news. It was con­ve­nient­ly released the day before Pres­i­dent Clinton’s Sen­ate impeach­ment tri­al was to begin and the major Amer­i­can news net­works didn’t give it much atten­tion. They were too busy with seg­ments on how the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice designed his own robes. With hooks like fash­ion and sex attend­ing the impeach­ment tri­al, how could they be blamed for under-reporting more Iraq news.

But on Jan­u­ary 7th, the New York Times con­firmed rumors that Unit­ed States plant­ed spies on the Unit­ed Nations: “Unit­ed States offi­cials said on Wednes­day that Amer­i­can spies had worked under­cov­er on teams of Unit­ed Nations arms inspec­tors fer­ret­ing out secret Iraqi weapons pro­grams.” The Wash­ing­ton Post and Boston Globe fur­ther report­ed that the oper­a­tion was aimed at Sad­dam Hus­sein him­self. NBC News report­ed that U.N. com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment was used by U.S. intel­li­gence to pass along inter­cept­ed Iraqi messages.

This is exact­ly what Sad­dam Hus­sein has been charg­ing the U.N. teams with. He has long claimed that the teams, run by the Unit­ed Nations Spe­cial Com­mis­sion or UNSCOM, were full of “Amer­i­can spies and agents.” It was for this rea­son that he denied the inspec­tors access to sen­si­tive sites. And it was this refusal that prompt­ed Pres­i­dent Clin­ton to attack Iraq last month.

So what’s going on here? Senior U.S. offi­cials told NBC News that the main tar­gets of last month’s attack weren’t mil­i­tary but eco­nom­ic. The cruise mis­siles weren’t aimed at any alleged nuclear or bio­log­i­cal weapons fac­to­ries but instead at the oil fields. Specif­i­cal­ly, one of the main tar­gets was the Bas­ra oil refin­ing facil­i­ties in south­ern Iraq.

In a sep­a­rate arti­cle, NBC quot­ed Fad­hil Cha­l­abi, an oil indus­try ana­lyst at the Cen­ter for Glob­al Ener­gy Stud­ies in Lon­don, as say­ing Iraq’s oil pro­duc­ing neight­bors are “hop­ing that Iraq’s oil instal­la­tions will be destroyed as a result of Amer­i­can air strikes. Then the [U.N.-mandated] oil-for food pro­gram would be par­a­lyzed and the mar­ket would improve by the dis­ap­pear­ance of Iraqi oil altogether.”

Since the start of the Gulf War, Iraq has pro­duced relatively-little oil because of a com­bi­na­tion of the U.N. sanc­tions and an infra­struc­ture destroyed by years of war. A report by the Unit­ed States Ener­gy Infor­ma­tion Admin­is­tra­tion back in the sum­mer of 1997 stat­ed Iraq’s per cap­i­tal Gross Nation­al Prod­uct was at lev­els not seen since the 1940s.

Sau­di Ara­bia and Kuwait have picked up this slack in pro­duc­tion and made out like ban­dits. Before the Gulf War, Sau­di Ara­bia was only allowed to pump 5.4 mil­lions bar­rels a day under it’s OPEC quo­ta. Today it pro­duces 8 mil­lion bar­rels a day, a fifty per­cent increase that trans­lates into bil­lions of dol­lars a year in prof­it. If the sanc­tions against Iraq were lift­ed, Sau­di pro­duc­tion would once more have to be lim­it­ed and the Anglo-American oil com­pa­nies run­ning the fields would lose ten bil­lion dol­lars a year in revenue.

t’s time to stop kid­ding our­selves. This is a war over mon­ey. The U.S. and Britain are get­ting rich off of Sau­di Arabia’s increased oil pro­duc­tion and don’t want any­one muscling in on their oil prof­its. It is in the eco­nom­ic inter­est of the U.S. and Britain to main­tain Iraqi sanc­tions indef­i­nite­ly and their for­eign pol­i­cy seems to be to set off peri­od­ic crises with Iraq. France and Rus­sia mean­while both stand to get lucra­tive oil con­tracts with a post-sanctions Iraq so they rou­tine­ly denounce any bomb­ing raids and just as rou­tine­ly call for a lift­ing of sanctions.

Sad­dam Hus­sein is also mak­ing out in the cur­rent state of affairs. A economically-healthy Iraqi pop­u­la­tion wouldn’t put up with his tyran­ny. He cur­rent­ly rules Iraq like a mob boss, siphon­ing off what oil prof­its there are to pay for fan­cy cars and pres­i­den­tial palaces. He gets to look tough in front of the TV cam­eras and then retreats to safe under­ground bunkers when the bombs start falling on the Iraqi people.

It is time to stop all of the hypocrisy. It is esti­mat­ed that over a mil­lion Iraqis have died as a results of the post-Gulf War sanc­tions. These oil prof­its are blood mon­ey and it is long past time that they end.