Communist Party of Australia

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Journal of the Communist Party of Australia


United State military aid and Iraqi oil

by Victor Perlo

Reprinted from the September 21, 1996 issue of the People’s Weekly World, newspaper of the CPUSA.

An editorial in the September 12, 1996 edition of the New York Times put the US invasion of Iraq in perspective: “The vital [US] interest in the area is oil. Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to determine the availability or price of much of the global oil supply.”

Americans are the world’s largest consumers of oil and want to get it at reasonable prices. But the US-owned transnational oil corporations want high prices and are willing to resort to any means toward that end.

Since the US started [its latest missile attacks on] Iraq, the price of crude has climbed one third.

Basically, the vital interest of the major US oil companies is the privatisation of the nationally owned oil fields of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other major producers. Were Hussein to be overthrown, a newly-installed-by-Washington “democratic government” would almost certainly privatise Iraq’s oil.

And the US companies would get back more than the 50 percent prenationalisation share Exxon and Mobil had.

Before nationalisation, the oil producing countries were paid minute amounts for their oil. After nationalisation they were able, through OPEC, to substantially raise prices.

At that time the United States was unable to prevent nationalisation but now, in the euphoria of being the “sole superpower”, the State Department and the Pentagon feel confident in using military means to serve the oil companies.

The Republican controlled Congress has just added $9.5 billion to the US military budget.

Defense Secretary William Perry vows that the American response will be “disproportionate with the provocation against us”, prompting a Pentagon official to say, “It’s like he’s given us entree to turn everything into rubble.”

Simultaneously Washington is ending its humanitarian aid to the Iraqi Kurds, because, a government spokesman explained, the US “did not want to intervene in a Kurdish civil war” — and this from a government that has broadcast to the world it’s right to intervene in the internal affairs of any country.

The precedent for military intervention in the area by US imperialism was set in the aftermath of World War I when oil concessions in what is now Iraq were taken from the Germans and divided among British, Dutch and French companies.

Rockefeller’s Standard Oil influenced the US government to get in on the act which led to Standard Oil getting a large chunk of Iraqi oil and US companies getting 100 per cent in Saudi Arabia.

Opposition to further US attacks is not in contradiction to opposi tion to the Hussein dictatorship. Washington is no more concerned about that than it is about the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia.

Oppression by the Iraqi regime is no grounds for military action or embargoes against the people of that country. And one thing is certain: The greed for Iraqi oil certainly is no justification.

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