I noticed on page A3 of last Sunday's Empire a small advertisement for a public presentation by Antonia Juhasz entitled "The economic invasion of Iraq: Why we are fighting a war for oil."
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I have never met Juhasz, and I'm not entirely sure of what she's going to say. Nevertheless, I urge readers, especially those inclined toward skepticism of her thesis, to hear her out. Certain little-publicized facts support the idea that the primary reason for the U.S. invasion was to ensure access to Iraq's huge oil reserves.
First, the major publicly traded oil companies in the United States and Europe have direct ownership control over less than 5 percent of the worlds proven oil reserves. In contrast, more than a third is in the hands of national state-owned oil in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Brazil and Malaysia, who are able to dictate terms of access.
Second, Iraq contains the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world.
Third, the intrinsic cost of oil production in Iraq (excluding security costs) is less than $3 a barrel, the lowest in the world, making these reserves the most inherently profitable anywhere.
Fourth, the United States has the highest per capita oil consumption in the world, and we import about half our consumption.
Fifth, recall that the first national asset that was secured militarily during the invasion was Iraq's oil fields, at the expense of nearly everything else, including public security.
In light of these facts, perhaps it is not so implausible that the central objective of the invasion was and remains U.S. energy security. Perhaps the reason the Bush administration refuses to consider such an option is less because of the fear that "terrorists will follow us home," than the United States will have lost its ability to dictate the terms of access to Iraqi oil for U.S. oil firms. Perhaps this is what is meant by "defeat in Iraq would be a disaster for the U.S."
Indeed, Bush's apparent commitment to our indefinite occupation of Iraq is readily explained with this view.
For these reasons, I look forward to the perspective offered by Juhasz this Thursday, and I urge readers to attend to better inform their positions on this most important national issue.
Jeffrey W. Short
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