Most everyone has come to understand that the U.S. rulers’ invasion of Iraq was all about oil. But not even the oil barons knew just how much was up for grabs. Now it’s revealed that Barack Obama has 8.2 million reasons not to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq anytime soon. That’s how many barrels of oil companies like Exxon Mobil claim they can pump every day — if it ever becomes safe for them to operate there.
Stunning production targets emerging from Iraq’s ongoing oilfield licensing talks with major firms put it on a strategic par with oil kingpin Saudi Arabia. The rising stakes underlie the recent upsurge in Iraqi factional violence and guarantee not only a permanent U.S. military occupation but future deadly “surges” to help Exxon & Co. realize their goal. Production today stagnates around 2.3 million barrels a day (mbd).
Invading Iraq was the brainchild of U.S. Big Oil. Occupation plans took shape in a high-level joint project of the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the James A. Baker Institute, imperialist think-tanks both closely linked to Exxon Mobil and J.P. Morgan Chase. Just before the 2003 invasion, the CFR-Baker cabal issued a report, “Iraq: The Day After,” promising that “U.S. and allied military forces will quickly occupy, control, and protect oil fields” in order to “achieve more significant increases — say, to 6 mbd by 2010.”
When the Bushites bungled the invasion by sending too few troops, the liberal, imperialist wing of U.S. capitalists blamed renegade neo-cons like Cheney and Rumsfeld for launching a misguided “war of choice.” But U.S. imperialists cannot afford to walk away from the 8 mbd windfall that new technology makes possible.
Saudi Rulers Unreliable Allies for U.S. Rulers
Controlling 8 mbd of Iraqi crude would sharply reduce U.S. dependence on shaky Saudi Arabia as the world’s sole “swing producer,” meaning a country having enough spare capacity to adjust production in an economic or military crisis.
But Saudi royals rule a powder keg. Though they profit from the most lucrative long-term deal in capitalism’s history, serving as Exxon’s biggest oil supplier, their 30 million subjects receive nothing from this bonanza. They sympathize more with al Qaeda and Hamas than with Washington. Prince Turki al-Faisal, former chief of Saudi intelligence, in an op-ed piece in the NY Times (9/13/09), said it would be unwise for his country to normalize diplomatic relations with U.S. ally Israel. The prince fears that Saudi workers’ anger at Israel’s concentration-camp treatment of Palestinians may dethrone his oily dynasty.
So Exxon Mobil-led groups have bids in for 6.3 mbd, or almost four-fifths of Iraq’s potential [See Table]. Meanwhile the U.S. war machine remains ever poised to invade Saudi Arabia to prop up its ruling princes if the masses were to rebel. The Pentagon has massive bases to the north (Iraq), to the east (Bahrain and Qatar), to the west (Djibouti) and to the south (Diego Garcia).
However, Exxon & Co. shouldn’t start counting their Iraqi chickens just yet. Iraq still has no national law governing oil contracts. And no sooner had Iraq held its first oilfield auction in June, “the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government condemned it as unconstitutional.” (Energy Intelligence, 9/7/09)
More ‘Surges’ On The Agenda?
Fighting among rival Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and attacks on U.S. bases have intensified since the oil projects were revealed. The NY Times (9/13/09) suggests that U.S. troops may have to seize the streets again: “After the withdrawal of most American combat forces from Iraq’s cities on June 30, violence has remained a constant, with attackers able to plant and detonate bombs….seemingly with impunity.”
U.S. rulers and their allies are ready to worsen an already sickening equation: over one million dead Iraqis and more than 4,000 dead GIs “in exchange for” eight million daily barrels of crude.
We need a sharpening fight against U.S. imperialism — in the shops and unions, the communities and churches, among GIs, and in all mass organizations — to mount militant battles against the U.S. bosses’ deadly goals. Out of these class struggles, tying the mountainous racist and economic attacks on the working class to the need to exterminate the profit system, we can build a mass PLP that can lead a communist revolution to destroy capitalism and its endless oil wars.