By Adib Rashad ~
Gil Scott Heron, poet, and pioneer rapper once stated that the military is
equal to monetary.
An African proverb states that War has no eyes.
I have amassed a number of sources which highlight some important facts
pertaining to the history of Iraq, the oil companies, and the profits and
carnage that war can generate.
First, I will briefly discuss Iraq and Saddam Hussein's connection to the
The CIA, The White House and Iraq
According to an article--which has historical authenticity--by Roger Morris
in the New York Times (March 14, 2003), who brings to light that it was only
forty years ago that President John F. Kennedy via the CIA in collaboration
with Saddam Hussein and other reactionary Arabs embarked upon the task to
overthrow the regime of Abdel Karim Kassem, or Qasim.
Kassem(Qasim) posed an ideological and political threat to Washington based
on his closeness to the former Soviet Union and Egypt's Gamel Abdel Nasser.
I hasten to add that Kassem at one point was a blood thirsty tyrant similar
to Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, from 1958 to 1960, President Dwight D.
Eisenhower and his administration courted Kassem because it regarded him as
a counter to Nasser, communism, and Pan-Arab Nationalism.
However, by 1961, Kassem had become more ideologically and politically
assertive. He embraced Nasser as a revolutionary hero.
As a result, he challenged and threatened Western oil interests in the
region; he also challenged American hegemony in the Middle East.
Furthermore, he sought weapons that would equal that of Israel.
Thus, with the above in mind, Washington regarded Kassem as a very
dangerous individual who must be removed at all cost.
In 1963, Britain and Israel backed US intervention into Iraq; France and
Germany, as was recently, refused involvement. Similar to President Bush,
President Kennedy was adamant about pushing forward. Therefore, a number of
covert operatives were employed to overthrow Kassem. A monogrammed,
personal handkerchief was one example.
The fatal day for Kassem occurred on February 8, 1963, the allies, along
with US armed Kurdish rebels, staged a coup in Baghdad.
Kassem was subsequently shot after a mock trial.
The Baath Party, and later its leader, Saddam Hussein, became instruments
for the CIA. As a matter fact, Hussein attempted to assassinate Kassem with
CIA blessings in 1958; the same year that Kassem ousted the ruling monarch.
Hussein failed; he fled the country, but maintained contact with the CIA.
The CIA regarded the Baath Party as a pragmatic instrument of
anti-communism, and Pan-Arab Nationalism espoused by Nasser.
The CIA provided a list of ideological leftists, communists, progressives,
and Arab Nationalists--particularly, Muslim revolutionaries to the Baath
Party. The Baath Party members engaged in a systematic pattern of blood
Afterwards, the United States sent arms (later chemical weapons) to the
Baath Party. Those weapons would later be used against the same Kurds that
the US supported against Kassem.
As we can see, history does indeed repeat itself.
Not long after, Western corporations like Mobile, Bechtel, and British
Petroleum were doing lucrative business in Iraq.
In 1968, after much infighting among Baath Party members, one General
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, again with CIA assistance staged a coup. This set the
stage for Saddam Hussein to assume the mantle of power.
In conclusion, there is more than ample evidence to prove that the United
States has played a major role in the contemporary political development of
Iraq and the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
Hussein is US manufactured.
He has never had an affinity with Islam in general, or Islamic
fundamentalism in particular. He was a secular, military opportunist.
His following statement gives credence to this fact: "We do not deal with
life by following a religious path. Today after 1,400 years, religion has
taken many new paths, new meanings, new conduct, new schools of thought. We
do not believe in life through religion because it would not serve the Arab
Militarism and Big Business
Whether it is oil, military contracts, or international arms deals, war is
Despite the oil concerns of the West and the United States, there are those
who foresee Iraq not only as a new source of oil, but of water also; why,
the question is asked, should canals not link the Tigris River to the
James A. Paul, Executive Director, Global Policy wrote a piece titled
"Iraq: the Struggle for Oil," (August, 2002). This article specifically
discusses the fact that Iraq possesses the world's second largest proven oil
reserves which is currently estimated at 112.5 billion barrels, about 11
percent of the world total and its gas fields are immense as well. A number
of experts believe that Iraq has additional undiscovered oil reserves which
could double the total output thereby placing Iraq on an equal footing with
Iraq's oil is of high quality and the experts claim that it is very
inexpensive to produce; thus making it one of the world's most profitable
oil sources. Oil companies are waiting with extreme monetary optimism
regarding the production rights over these rich Iraqi oil fields which will
be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. There is no doubt that Iraq's oil
will gain increasing importance in the global energy sphere. Every major
oil company in the world has its eye on Iraq
Curtis F. Jones, retired career diplomat, with extensive experience in the
Middle East points out that the United States for more than half a century
postulated three primary policy objectives:
1. To preserve Western hegemony during the Cold War over the region whose
strategic importance to the defense of Europe had been recognized from the
time of Napoleon.
2. To ensure affordable access to Middle East oil.
3. To ensure the security of the state of Israel.
Interestingly, America's hegemonic design was formally articulated in the
State of the Union address of January 23, 1980, as the "Carter Doctrine."
This was clearly summarized in this manner: "Any attempt by any outside
force to gain control of the Gulf would be viewed as an attack on United
States vital interests." "And such an assault will be repelled by any means
necessary, including military force."
Additionally, George F.Kennan, former United States Ambassador, strongly
suggested that the goal of American foreign policy is to preserve America's
disproportionate consumption of world resources.
Oil would be the prime example. With five percent of the world's
population, America consumes a fourth of the world's oil production. The
Pentagon has traditionally based its defense planning on the assumption of
special access to Saudi oil.
Curtis Jones, believes that President George W. Bush has embraced the thesis
that national security depends on energy security.
Major Companies that Import Middle East Oil:
Shell.......... 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco.......... 144,332,000 barrels A point worth noting here is
that Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor, was a board member of
Chevron and one of the company's supertankers was named after her.
Marathon/Speedway.......... 117,740,000 barrels
Amoco.......... 62,231,000 barrels.
It is also stated that Exxon Mobile hovers over the other oil companies, and
by some estimates it measures as the world's largest company.
The United States ranks first in the corporate oil arena; the United Kingdom
(Britain) is second and France is a distant third.
Top Ten Countries with Oil Reserves:
Saudi Arabia----------264 billion barrels
Iraq----------113 billion barrels
United Arab Emirates---------98 billion barrels
Kuwait----------97 billion barrels
Iran----------90 billion barrels
Venezuela----------73 billion barrels
Russia----------49 billion barrels
Libya----------30 billion barrels
Mexico----------28 billion barrels
China----------24 billion barrels
It becomes crystal clear why General Anthony C. Zinni, commander in chief
testified to Congress in 1999 that the Gulf region is a "vital interest" of
"long standing" for the United States and that the US "must have free access
to that region's resources. This has been the objective of the United
States since the end of World War II--that is to control the region through
military and economic means.
The United States, Oil and Africa
The war in Iraq could disrupt oil supplies from the Middle East for some
time; therefore, the US and Europe must seek and secure alternative sources.
A number of industry lobbyist have relentlessly tried to impel the US to
turn from Mideast to African oil. Michael Wihbey, a resource specialist,
stated, regarding African oil, "It's like the Persian Gulf in the 1960s."
Africa contains 7.2 percent of the world's proven reserves of oil--76.7
thousand million barrels--more than the proven reserves of North America or
the former Soviet Union. The area of Sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly
the Gulf of Guinea, has seen a large increase in oil exploration and
production; consequently, a number of major oil companies are gravitating in
that direction. Moreover, the Gulf of Guinea is far from the political and
ethnic turbulence of the Persian Gulf.
West Africa, led by Nigeria, supplies the United States with 15 percent of
its oil; this approximates Saudi Arabia's share of the US market.
The US National Intelligence Council projects that US. Oil supplies from
West Africa will swell to 25 percent by 2015--more than from the Persian
There are several reasons why African oil is so attractive to US oil
companies; it is geographically closer than the Middle East; its crude oil
production exceeded four million barrels a day in 2000--more than Iran,
Mexico, and Venezuela. West Africa exported almost twice as much crude oil
to the US in 2001 as it did to Europe (68.1 million tonnes to the US, 34.9
million tonnes to Europe). major oil companies have snatched up promising
oil fields from Morocco and Western Sahara down the Atlantic Coast to
Companies such as Chevron/Texaco, Exxon/Mobile, and some lesser known ones
such as Amerada Hess and Ocean Energy expect to triple their Africa
production over the next few years. As it stands now, their investments
will total $10 billion dollars annually by next year.
Exxon/Mobile has a growing and major commitment to West Africa, a region
significant to US interests and Exxon/Mobile's long-term future.
On the other hand, Chevron/Texaco has made the biggest move into West Africa
with exploration and production interests in the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) member Nigeria. Nigeria, Angola, the Congo
(Brazzaville), and Equatorial Guinea have more than two-thirds of the
region's oil reserves.
Then presidential candidate, George W. Bush, declared in 2000 that Africa
"doesn't fit into the national strategic interests as far as I can see
them." This very impractical statement has been viewed as globally
unrealistic. Walter kansteiner, US Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs, said it is "undeniable ... that African oil has become of national
strategic interest to us."
Furthermore, the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, a lobby group for the
oil industry, have emphatically encouraged the Bush administration in a
white paper to declare the Gulf of Guinea "area of vital interest" to
America. The oil companies' huge investments are also bringing increasing
pressure from the industry for a greater US military presence in the West
The white paper strongly recommends establishing a military subcommand for
the Gulf of Guinea.
The interest in African oil is predicated on the fact that it is high in
quality, and for the eastern part of the US, shipping distance is half that
of oil from the Persian Gulf.
In addition, the key West African wells are offshore, away from any social,
ethnic, or political turmoil.
US and Global Military Expenditures/Military Budget Request.
The following is the Fiscal Year 2004 Discretionary Budget Request in
Billions of Dollars:
This report was prepared by Christopher Hellman CDI Senior Analyst (Center
for Defense Information).
Military................399 ($ in Billions)
Natural Resources & Environment.............28
Science & Space................24
Training, Employment & Social Services.............20
Other Income Security...............16
Social Security & Medicare.................8
The Fiscal Year 2004 budget request totals $782 billion for discretionary
spending; as we can see $399 billion will go to the Pentagon--that accounts
for over half (51.0 percent) of all the discretionary spending.
War, Death and Suffering
Derrick Z. Jackson wrote an article in the Boston Globe (Tuesday, February
18, 2003) titled "What about the Death Toll?" This article discusses the
casualties and deaths of civilians in the first Iraqi war. Beth Osborne
Daponte, a Middle East Analyst, was assigned to report her numerical
findings. I am compelled to say, before I continue, that Osborne was almost
fired because of her candor regarding the chilling number of deaths and
carnage in that war.
She estimated that a total of 158,000 Iraqis were killed, with only 40,000
of them being soldiers in battle.
The number was larger the second time she reported; she estimated that
70,000 Iraqis died through easily preventable diseases that lingered by way
of US bombs and that in turn poisoned the sewage, water, and power supplies.
Her first report estimated that of the estimated 158,000 deaths, 40,000 were
women and 32,000 were children.
Well, this did not rest well with her supervisors at the Census Bureau;
therefore, they told her that she would be terminated for reporting "false
information," "untrustworthiness," and "unreliability."
It was the strong support from civil libertarians that made her employers
Ironically, a year later she published an even more scathing report with
even more horrific numbers. Her second report appeared in the "Physicians
for Social Responsibility." She estimated the final death toll to be
205,500. The war itself resulted in 56,000 deaths to soldiers and 3,500 to
civilians. In her second report, the number of women who died from health
effects of the war decreased to 16,500, but the number of children who died
increased to 70,000. Additionally, 8,500 senior citizens died. I repeat
these statistics appear in the Boston Globe and was reiterated by reporter,
Derrick Z. Jackson.
These numbers have not been refuted to date; I would strongly accept them
based on the fact that bombs and war have no vision even when they proclaim
to do so.
Bombs and War
The above numbers are only reflective of a history of bombing of nonwhite
people by Europeans and Americans. Swedish author and historian, Sven
Lindqvist, wrote a very historically provocative book titled, "The History
of Bombing," (Published by The Free Press, New York, 2000, Translated and
Reviewed by Linda Haverty Rugg,2001). His primary thesis examines the
evolution of bombs as they were used to spread panic and terror; the
Europeans deployed the bomb as a means to terrorize; the Italians dropped
the first bomb near Tripoli on October 26, 1911; Europeans bombed their
colonies with the objective to "civilize the barbarians."
Lindqvist posits that the European decision to bomb the indigenous (people
of color) peoples they were attempting to colonize was not an accident or
just an act of war; rather it was the advancement of bombing, in and of
itself, as a military technique that was situated firmly in the context of
racial stratification and ethnic phobia.
Native peoples were viewed as subhuman and uncivilized--the Italians, for
example, justified their bombing of civilians in Tripoli based on the above
Lindqvist is objective in that he addresses the British firebombing of
Germany as an economic and ideological act.
On the other hand, Americans refused to engage in broad area bombing with
the intent of killing or displacing civilians in Germany. However, in
Japan, this moral imperative was abandoned. The US Air Force perpetrated
some of the most horrendous civilian massacres known in the history of
warfare--particularly the firebombing of Tokyo. The motivation was a deep
seated racial animus toward the Japanese as the "Asian other."
Bombing, undoubtedly, is a very different form of warfare; it is
distinguished by its area-wide effect and usefulness against targets that
cannot be separated from the civilians that surround them. The history of
the bomb verifies conclusively that it was designed to slaughter
Thus the above report by Osborne cannot be off the mark. Innocent civilians
do suffer during war--especially women and children--primarily because of
Another more alarming report came from "PeaceAware"
(http://www.peaceaware.com) that states that the number of civilians
that suffered in the first Gulf War were 1.2 million Iraqi dead.
And 500,000 of those were children.
Let us see what the number(s) will be after this war.
1. The Prize The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, by Daniel Yergen
(Simon & Schuster, New York, 1991)
2. The Political Economy of World Energy, by John G. Clark (The University
of North Carolina Press, 1990)
3. A Preponderance of Power National Security, the Truman Administration,
and the Cold War, Melvyn P. Leffler (Stanford University Press, California,
4. Thy Will Be Done The Conquest of The Amazon Nelson Rockefeller and
Evangelism in the Age of Oil, by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett
(HarperCollins, New York, 1995)
5. Instruments of StateCraft 1940-1990, by Michael McClintock (Pantheon
Books, New York, 1992)
6. A Peace To End All Peace Creating The Modern Middle East 1914-1922, by
David Fromkin (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1989)
Adib Rashad (RashadM@aol.com) is an education consultant, education
program director, author, and historian. He has lived and taught in
West Africa and South East Asia.
This article was previously published by theMarcusGarveyBBS (an entity of TheBlackList)
and TheBlackList at http://lists.topica.com/lists/TheBlackList/read