Posts Tagged ‘Iraqi oil’

Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder

January 28, 2010

Socialist Worker Online, January 29, 2010

Sabah Jawad from Iraqi Democrats Against the occupation

‘Tony Blair should be tried for his crimes against Iraq—and the legacy the war has left there.

A million Iraqis have died, leaving millions orphaned and widowed. The war and occupation have made as many as four million people into refugees.

The whole infrastructure of Iraq has been devastated by the occupation. Our heritage has been looted and destroyed, the environment has been poisoned and vital water sources have been lost.

Continues >>

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End the Occupation of Iraq — and Afghanistan

July 30, 2008

Published on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
by Marjorie Cohn

So far, Bush’s plan to maintain a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq has been stymied by resistance from the Iraqi government. Barack Obama’s timetable for withdrawal of American troops has evidently been joined by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Bush has mentioned a “time horizon,” and John McCain has waffled. Yet Obama favors leaving between 35,000 and 80,000 U.S. occupation troops there indefinitely to train Iraqi security forces and carry out “counter-insurgency operations.” That would not end the occupation. We must call for bringing home — not redeploying — all U.S. troops and mercenaries, closing all U.S. military bases, and relinquishing all efforts to control Iraqi oil.

In light of stepped up violence in Afghanistan, and for political reasons — following Obama’s lead — Bush will be moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Although the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was as illegal as the invasion of Iraq, many Americans see it as a justifiable response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the casualties in that war have been lower than those in Iraq — so far. Practically no one in the United States is currently questioning the legality or propriety of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. The cover of Time magazine calls it “The Right War.”

The U.N. Charter provides that all member states must settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and no nation can use military force except in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After the 9/11 attacks, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan. Resolutions 1368 and 1373 condemned the September 11 attacks, and ordered the freezing of assets; the criminalizing of terrorist activity; the prevention of the commission of and support for terrorist attacks; the taking of necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist activity, including the sharing of information; and urged ratification and enforcement of the international conventions against terrorism.

The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the Charter because the attacks on September 11 were criminal attacks, not “armed attacks” by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after September 11, or Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign. The necessity for self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the U.N. General Assembly.

Bush’s justification for attacking Afghanistan was that it was harboring Osama bin Laden and training terrorists. Iranians could have made the same argument to attack the United States after they overthrew the vicious Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and he was given safe haven in the United States. The people in Latin American countries whose dictators were trained in torture techniques at the School of the Americas could likewise have attacked the torture training facility in Ft. Benning, Georgia under that specious rationale.

Those who conspired to hijack airplanes and kill thousands of people on 9/11 are guilty of crimes against humanity. They must be identified and brought to justice in accordance with the law. But retaliation by invading Afghanistan is not the answer and will only lead to the deaths of more of our troops and Afghanis.

The hatred that fueled 19 people to blow themselves up and take 3,000 innocents with them has its genesis in a history of the U.S. government’s exploitation of people in oil-rich nations around the world. Bush accused the terrorists of targeting our freedom and democracy. But it was not the Statue of Liberty that was destroyed. It was the World Trade Center — symbol of the U.S.-led global economic system, and the Pentagon — heart of the U.S. military, that took the hits. Those who committed these heinous crimes were attacking American foreign policy. That policy has resulted in the deaths of two million Iraqis — from both Bill Clinton’s punishing sanctions and George W. Bush’s war. It has led to uncritical support of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian lands; and it has stationed more than 700 U.S. military bases in foreign countries.

Conspicuously absent from the national discourse is a political analysis of why the tragedy of 9/11 occurred and a comprehensive strategy to overhaul U.S. foreign policy to inoculate us from the wrath of those who despise American imperialism. The “Global War on Terror” has been uncritically accepted by most in this country. But terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. You cannot declare war on a tactic. The way to combat terrorism is by identifying and targeting its root causes, including poverty, lack of education, and foreign occupation.

There are already 60,000 foreign troops, including 36,000 Americans, in Afghanistan. Large increases in U.S. troops during the past year have failed to stabilize the situation there. Most American forces operate in the eastern part of the country; yet by July 2008, attacks there were up by 40 percent. Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor for Jimmy Carter, is skeptical that the answer for Afghanistan is more troops. He warns that the United States will, like the Soviet Union, be seen as the invader, especially as we conduct military operations “with little regard for civilian casualties.” Brzezinski advocates Europeans bribing Afghan farmers not to cultivate poppies for heroin, as well as the bribery of tribal warlords to isolate al-Qaeda from a Taliban that is “not a united force, not a world-oriented terrorist movement, but a real Afghan phenomenon.”

We might heed Canada’s warning that a broader mission, under the auspices of the United Nations instead of NATO, would be more effective. Our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan should emphasize economic assistance for reconstruction, development and education, not for more weapons. The United States must refrain from further Predator missile strikes in Pakistan, and pursue diplomacy, not occupation.

Nor should we be threatening war against Iran, which would also be illegal and result in an unmitigated disaster. The U.N. Charter forbids any country to use, or threaten to use, military force against another country except in self-defense or when the Security Council has given its blessing. In spite of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency’s conclusion that there is no evidence Iran is developing nuclear weapons, the White House, Congress, and Israel have continued to rattle the sabers in Iran’s direction. Nevertheless, the antiwar movement has so far fended off passage of HR 362 in the House of Representatives, a bill which is tantamount to a call for a naval blockade against Iran — considered an act of war under international law. Credit goes to United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Peace Action, and dozens of other organizations that pressured Congress to think twice before taking that dangerous step.

We should pursue diplomacy, not war, with Iran; end the U.S. occupation of Iraq; and withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.

Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and her new book, Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (co-authored with Kathleen Gilberd), will be published this winter. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com.

It’s the Oil, stupid!

July 10, 2008
BY NOAM CHOMSKY | Khaleej Times, 8 July 2008

The deal just taking shape between Iraq’s Oil Ministry and four Western oil companies raises critical questions about the nature of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq — questions that should certainly be addressed by presidential candidates and seriously discussed in the United States, and of course in occupied Iraq, where it appears that the population has little if any role in determining the future of their country.

Negotiations are under way for Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners decades ago in the Iraq Petroleum Company, now joined by Chevron and other smaller oil companies — to renew the oil concession they lost to nationalisation during the years when the oil producers took over their own resources. The no-bid contracts, apparently written by the oil corporations with the help of U.S. officials, prevailed over offers from more than 40 other companies, including companies in China, India and Russia.

“There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract,” Andrew E. Kramer wrote in The New York Times.

Kramer’s reference to “suspicion” is an understatement. Furthermore, it is highly likely that the military occupation has taken the initiative in restoring the hated Iraq Petroleum Company, which, as Seamus Milne writes in the London Guardian, was imposed under British rule to “dine off Iraq’s wealth in a famously exploitative deal.”

Later reports speak of delays in the bidding. Much is happening in secrecy, and it would be no surprise if new scandals emerge.

The demand could hardly be more intense. Iraq contains perhaps the second largest oil reserves in the world, which are, furthermore, very cheap to extract: no permafrost or tar sands or deep sea drilling. For US planners, it is imperative that Iraq remain under U.S. control, to the extent possible, as an obedient client state that will also house major U.S. military bases, right at the heart of the world’s major energy reserves.

Continued . . .

What is imperialism?

June 28, 2008

Events in Iraq – a major power dominating a much less developed one – seem to fit the popular image of imperialism.

This picture also reflects the form that imperialism took as it emerged in the late 19th century. From then into the first half of the 20th century, imperialism was characterised by military takeover and direct colonial control, the search for profitable investment opportunities and cheap labour, the ripping off of raw materials, and the use of the colonies as markets for the products of the imperial powers.

As capitalism developed, the boundaries of a single nation state had become too small and the search for raw materials and markets extended to encompass the entire world. States expanded their functions to protect and project the interests of the capitalists of their country over others.

The Russian revolutionary Lenin was one of the first to recognise that the rise of the great militarised states and the competition between them to carve up the world lay behind the slaughter of World War I.

He recognised that while economic, military and political domination by a small number of advanced economies over most of the world is the form that imperialism takes, it stems from something else – the rivalry between the powerful states. Sometimes this rivalry consists of economic competition for materials or markets, but ultimately it is backed up by military might.

Explaining in 1935 how the US military had extended US economic control over Central America, Major General Smedley D. Butler described his role like this:

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force – the Marine Corps…And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capital…

Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in… I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903.

US imperialism’s aims have changed little since then. Today, multinational corporations need the state not only to control and if necessary suppress the workers that they exploit. They also need the military might of the state to protect their interests from rival multinationals and the rival states that protect them.

The USA is the world’s biggest military power. It intends to use its military might to ensure its role as the world superpower for the indefinite future.

As the example of Iraqi oil shows, control of raw materials continues to be a priority for the imperialist powers in the 21st century. But this example also shows how the rivalry between the major powers is the central dynamic of imperialism. Europe and Japan are more dependent on Middle Eastern oil than is the US. A military occupation of Iraq would give the US increased leverage over its main economic competitors.

Why does it matter if we think imperialism is about big powers dominating small ones and ripping off their resources, or if it is about the competition between the big powers themselves?

The first explanation makes sense of the attack on oil-rich Iraq, but how can we explain the US war on Afghanistan in 2001, or the projected attack on the resource-poor state of North Korea?

If we are looking for resource explanations for imperialism, it’s hard to make sense of the US’s war on Vietnam. Vietnam had no resources of value to the US. The millions of deaths did however have a strategic purpose in the imperialist rivalry between the US and the USSR, just as the Korean War of the early 1950s had.

As George W. Bush promises a century of war, he has his eyes on the major European powers, on Japan and on China, rather than on the particular impoverished country on which he may next unleash the US military machine.

Imperialism means the murder of thousands in countries like Iraq, and attacks on living standards and civil liberties in the imperialist powers, including small ones like Australia.

But imperialism is not invincible. At every stage of its bloody history, it has provoked revolt from below. As an international anti-war movement takes to the stage, the chance to once again organise and fight opens up.


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