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03 Jul

Oil Industry Execs Suggested Invasion

Eager to Tap Iraq’s Vast Oil Reserves, Industry Execs Suggested Invasion

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report, Friday 03 July 2009

An Iraqi oilfield worker. Two years before the invasion of Iraq, reports suggested invading to end Saddam Hussein’s control of the oil. (Photo: Getty Images)Two years before the invasion of Iraq, oil executives and foreign policy advisers told the Bush administration that the United States would remain “a prisoner of its energy dilemma” as long as Saddam Hussein was in power.

That April 2001 report, “Strategic Policy Challenges for the 21st Century,” was prepared by the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy and the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations at the request of then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

In retrospect, it appears that the report helped focus administration thinking on why it made geopolitical sense to oust Hussein, whose country sat on the world’s second largest oil reserves.

“Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East,” the report said.

“Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets. Therefore the US should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and political/diplomatic assessments.”

The advisory committee that helped prepare the report included Luis Giusti, a Shell Corp. non-executive director; John Manzoni, regional president of British Petroleum; and David O’Reilly, chief executive of ChevronTexaco.

James Baker, the namesake for the public policy institute, was a prominent oil industry lawyer who also served as secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, and was counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign during the Florida recount in 2000.

Ken Lay, then-chairman of the energy trading Enron Corp., also made recommendations that were included in the Baker report.

At the time of the report, Cheney was leading an energy task force made up of powerful industry executives who assisted him in drafting a comprehensive “National Energy Policy” for President George W. Bush.

A Focus on Oil

It was believed then that Cheney’s secretive task force was focusing on ways to reduce environmental regulations and fend off the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

But Bush’s first treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, later described a White House interest in invading Iraq and controlling its vast oil reserves, dating back to the first days of the Bush presidency.

In Ron Suskind’s 2004 book, “The Price of Loyalty,” O’Neill said an invasion of Iraq was on the agenda at the first National Security Council. There was even a map for a post-war occupation, marking out how Iraq’s oil fields would be carved up.

Even at that early date, the message from Bush was “find a way to do this,” according to O’Neill, a critic of the Iraq invasion who was forced out of his job in December 2002………………………………………………………………..

Two years after the Baker report, the United States – along with Great Britain and other allies – invaded Iraq. Now, more than six years later, the US oil industry finally appears to be in a strong position relative to Iraq’s oil riches.

However, the price that has been paid by American troops, Iraqi civilians and the US taxpayers has been enormous.

Indict! Indict! Indict!

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