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    War and Terror: God for oil: The mother of all backroom deals
    Posted on Friday, February 11 @ 21:11:45 UTC
    Topic: Oil rig and Tanker
    Oil rig and TankerBy Chris Floyd, The Moscow Times

    The hoary adage that "there are none so blind as those who will not see" should be carved in stone at the National Press Club in Washington. Surely there can be no better motto for the cozy clubhouse of America's media mavens, who seem preternaturally incapable of recognizing the truth -- even when it stands before them, monstrous and unavoidable, like a giant Cyclops smeared with blood.

    For just as they botched the most important story of our time -- the Bush Administration's transparently deceptive campaign to launch a war of aggression against Iraq -- the clubby mavens are now missing the crowning achievement of this vast crime: the mother of all backroom deals, a cynical pact sealed by murder, unfolding before our eyes.

    The Administration's true objective in Iraq is brutally simple: U.S. domination of Middle East oil. This is no secret. Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz began writing about this "strategic necessity" in 1992, as Alternet reminds us; and in September 2000, a group led by Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld openly called for a U.S. military takeover of Iraq -- even if the regime of Saddam Hussein was no longer in power. At every point in their savaging of Iraq, the Bushists have pressed relentlessly toward this oily goal.

    The objective was revealed -- yet again -- in a recent Washington appearance by Iraqi Finance Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi. Standing alongside a top State Department official, Abdel-Mahdi announced that Iraq's government wants to open the nation's oil fields to foreign investment -- not only the pumped product flowing through the pipes, but the very oil in the ground, the common patrimony of the Iraqi people. The minister said plainly that this sweet deal -- placing the world's second-largest oil reserves in a few private hands -- would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies," InterPress reports. These are the spoils for which George W. Bush has killed more than 100,000 human beings.

    The American media completely ignored Abdel-Mahdi's declaration, but this is not surprising. After all, it occurred in the most obscure venue imaginable: an appearance before oil barons and journalists at the, er, National Press Club. Where better to hide open confessions of war crimes than in the very midst of the Washington hack pack? Yet here was a story of immense importance. For Abdel-Mahdi is not only a functionary in the discredited collaborationist government now in its last days. He is also one of the leading figures in the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite faction that has been swept to somewhat more legitimate power by the national election that was forced on George W. Bush by Islamic fundamentalist Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In fact, Abdel-Mahdi is frequently mentioned as a leading choice for prime minister in the new government; whatever happens, he will certainly play a primary role.

    So we have a top official -- perhaps the top official -- in the incoming government offering American oilmen ownership rights in Iraqi oil. We have top American officials -- such as Cheney and Rumsfeld this week -- taking a benign view of the UIA's demand that the new Iraqi state be based solely on Islamic law, with crippling restrictions on women's rights, free expression, free association, plus, if Sistani has his way, Talibanic bans on music, dancing and even playing chess, Newsweek reports.

    What we have, in other words, is the making of a monstrous, Cyclopean deal: not just "Blood for Oil," as the anti-war critics have said all along, but also "God for Oil." The Shiite clerics -- who eschew direct control but whose precepts can be translated into state power by secular representatives like Abdel-Mahdi -- seem willing to trade a goodly portion of Iraq's oil wealth in exchange for establishing a de facto "Islamic Republic" in the conquered land, with tacit American approval.

    Sistani's word could move millions into the street to hamstring U.S. forces; but despite his notional disapproval of the occupation, he has stayed his hand, waiting for power to fall like a ripe fruit into the Shiite basket. Like Bush, he is apparently willing to countenance mass slaughter by the U.S.-led "Coalition" to achieve his objectives; but then, like Bush, Sistani is not an Iraqi either: He's an Iranian. Now these two foreigners are rolling dice to settle the nation's fate.

    But there's yet another glaring truth that's escaped the media mavens, and most of the war's opponents as well. Even if the grand objective of oil control slips away somehow -- through a falling-out with Sistani, say, or civil war -- Bush has already won the game. The war has transferred billions of dollars from the public treasuries of the United States and Iraq into the coffers of an elite clique of oilmen, arms dealers, investment firms, construction giants and political operatives associated with the Bush family. And this goes beyond the official, guaranteed-profit contracts to favored firms; Bush's own inspector general reported this month that $8.8 billion in unaccounted "reconstruction" funds have simply vanished -- much of it in bribes for Bush officials and corporate kickbacks, the BBC reported.

    This blood money will further entrench the Bushist clique in unassailable power and privilege for decades to come, regardless of the bloody chaos they cause, or even the occasional loss of political office. The American power structure has been permanently altered by the war -- just as American society has been immeasurably corrupted by Bush's proud embrace of aggression, torture, lawlessness and militarism as national values.

    Bush lied. He stole. He murdered. In broad daylight. And he got away with it. That's the story. But you'll never hear it at the Press Club.

    Annotations

    Of Oil And Elections
    AlterNet.com, Jan. 27, 2005

    US to Take Bigger Slice of Iraq's Economic Pie
    InterPress News, January 2005

    Al-Sistani to Have Detailed Involvement in Iraq's Political Process
    Knight-Ridder, Feb. 6, 2005

    Abdel Mahdi: Maoist Turned Free Marketer Emerges as Consensus Candidate
    Agence France Presse, Jan. 29, 2005

    American Dominance
    Bergen Record, Feb. 23, 2003

    The Republicans' Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iraq
    Informed Comment, Feb. 7, 2005

    What Sistani Wants
    Newsweek, Feb. 14, 2005 issue

    Iraq Shiite leaders demand Islam be the source of law
    Agence France Presse, Feb. 6, 2005

    What They're Not Telling You About the Election
    OccupationWatch, Feb. 1, 2005

    Sistani Begins on His True Agenda
    Asia Times, Feb. 8, 2005

    Fraud and Corruption
    The Guardian, Feb. 8, 2005

    Two Front-Runners Vie for Iraqi PM Post
    Knight-Ridder, Jan. 28, 2005

    Iraq Reconstruction Funds Missing
    BBC, Jan. 30, 2005

    Officials Lose Track of $8.8 Billion in Reconstruction Funds
    The Age, Jan. 31, 2005

    Army Won't Withhold Halliburton Payments Despite Dispute
    Reuters, Feb. 3, 2005,

    Leading Shiite Clerics Push Islamic Constitution in Iraq
    New York Times, Feb. 6, 2005

    United and Divided: Shiites in Power
    Salon.com, Feb. 8, 2005

    Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President
    Glasgow Sunday Herald, Sept. 15, 2002

    Rebuilding America's Defenses
    Project for a New Century, September 2000

    Statement of Principles
    Project for a New American Century, June 3, 1997

    National Security Strategy of the United States
    The White House, September 2002

    Uncle Sugar: How the WMD Scam Put Money in Bush Family Pockets
    CounterPunch, March 5, 2004

    Copyright 2005 The Moscow Times

    Reprinted from The Moscow Times:
    http://www.moscowtimes.ru/stories/2005/02/11/120.html


     
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