IT is a document that fundamentally questions the
motives behind the Bush administration's desire to take out Saddam
Hussein and go to war with Iraq.
Strategic Energy Policy Challenges
For The 21st Century describes how America is facing the biggest energy
crisis in its history. It targets Saddam as a threat to American
interests because of his control of Iraqi oilfields and recommends the
use of 'military intervention' as a means to fix the US energy crisis.
report is linked to a veritable who's who of US hawks, oilmen and
corporate bigwigs. It was commissioned by James Baker, the former US
Secretary of State under George Bush Snr, and submitted to
Vice-President Dick Cheney in April 2001 -- a full five months before
September 11. Yet it advocates a policy of using military force against
an enemy such as Iraq to secure US access to, and control of, Middle
Eastern oil fields.
One of the most telling passages in the
document reads: 'Iraq remains a destabilising influence to ... the flow
of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein
has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon
and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil markets.
would display his personal power, enhance his image as a pan-Arab
leader ... and pressure others for a lifting of economic sanctions
against his regime. The United States should conduct an immediate
policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and
'The United States should then
develop an integrated strategy with key allies in Europe and Asia, and
with key countries in the Middle East, to restate goals with respect to
Iraqi policy and to restore a cohesive coalition of key allies.'
the moment, UN sanctions allow Iraq to export some oil. Indeed, the US
imports almost a million barrels of Iraqi oil a day, even though
American firms are forbidden from direct involvement with the regime's
oil industry. In 1999, Iraq was exporting around 2.5 million barrels a
day across the world.
The US document recommends using UN
weapons inspectors as a means of controlling Iraqi oil. On one hand,
'military intervention' is supported; but the report also backs
'de-fanging' Saddam through weapons inspectors and then moving in to
take control of Iraqi oil.
'Once an arms-control program is in
place, the US could consider reducing restrictions [sanctions] on oil
investment inside Iraq,' it reads. The reason for this is that 'Iraqi
[oil] reserves represent a major asset that can quickly add capacity to
world oil markets and inject a more competitive tenor to oil trade'.
however, may not be as effective as simply taking out Saddam. The
report admits that an arms-control policy will be ' quite costly' as it
will 'encourage Saddam Hussein to boast of his 'victory' against the
United States, fuel his ambition and potentially strengthen his
regime'. It adds: 'Once so encouraged, and if his access to oil
revenues was to be increased by adjustments in oil sanctions, Saddam
Hussein could be a greater security threat to US allies in the region
if weapons of mass destruction, sanctions, weapons regimes and the
coalition against him are not strengthened.'
The document also
points out that 'the United States remains a prisoner of its energy
dilemma', and that one of the 'consequences' of this is a 'need for
At the heart of the decision to
target Iraq over oil lies dire mismanagement of the US energy policy
over decades by consecutive administrations. The report refers to the
huge power cuts that have affected California in recent years and warns
of 'more Californias' ahead.
It says the 'central dilemma' for
the US administration is that 'the American people continue to demand
plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience'. With
the 'energy sector in critical condition, a crisis could erupt at any
time [which] could have potentially enormous impact on the US ... and
would affect US national security and foreign policy in dramatic ways.''
main cause of a crisis, according to the document's authors, is 'Middle
East tension', which means the 'chances are greater than at any point
in the last two decades of an oil supply disruption'. The report says
the US will never be 'energy independent' and is becoming too reliant
on foreign powers supplying it with oil and gas. The response is to put
oil at the heart of the administration -- 'a reassessment of the role
of energy in American foreign policy'.
The US energy crisis is
exacerbated by growing anti-American feeling in the oil-rich Gulf
states. 'Gulf allies are finding their domestic and foreign policy
interests increasingly at odds with US strategic considerations,
especially as Arab-Israeli tensions flare,' says the report. 'They have
become less inclined to lower oil prices ... A trend towards
anti-Americanism could affect regional leaders' ability to co-operate
with the US in the energy area. The resulting tight markets have
increased US vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue
political influence over the price of oil.''
described as the world's 'key swing producer ... turning its taps on
and off when it has felt such action was in its strategic interest''.
The report also says there is a 'possibility that Saddam may remove
Iraqi oil from the market for an extended period of time', creating a
While the report alone seems to build a
compelling case that oil is one of the central issues fuelling the war
against Iraq, there are also other, circumstantial pieces of the jigsaw
that show disturbing connections between 'black gold' and the Bush
administration's desire to wage war on Saddam. In 1998 the oil
equipment company Halliburton, of which Dick Cheney was chief
executive, sold parts to Iraq so Saddam could repair an infrastructure
that had been terribly damaged during the 1991 Gulf war. Cheney's firm
did 15 million of business with Saddam -- a man Cheney now calls a
'murderous dictator'. Halliburton is one of the firms thought by
analysts to be in line to make a killing in any clean-up operation
after another US-led war on Iraq.
All five permanent members of
the UN Security Council -- the UK, France, China, Russia and the US --
have international oil companies that would benefit from huge windfalls
in the event of regime change in Baghdad. The best chance for US firms
to make billions would come if Bush installed a pro-US Iraqi opposition
member as the head of a new government.
foreign oil firms have already met with leaders of the Iraqi
opposition. Ahmed Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi
National Congress, said: 'American companies will have a big shot at
Web report: Iraq