How Can We Lose?

...If the increased price of oil has already given the owners of Iraq's oil reserves a $496 billion profit by holding Iraq's oil production off world markets, then the same reasoning holds that continuing to control Iraq's future production will be tremendously profitable as China and India become larger users of the world's dwindling supply...

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They are playing a game they are playing at not playing a game, if I show them that I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me.  Therefore, I must play the game of not seeing that I see the game.    
- RD Laing

If this mind twister is hard to grasp, try following the convolutions of a small piece of American Foreign Policy and Project for the New American Century's aims toward ensuring that the "sun never sets on the control of the empire's needs" - namely the control of America's need for oil throughout this century.  This is not meant to exclude the means used for controlling the world's supply of other critically needed resources from oil through manganese, uranium and vanadium. 

There have been many recent contradictory articles written about "peak oil"; oil as a commodity and its meaning to the United States including many many articles written about oil as being the prime reason for our invading Iraq.  However, one of the most thought-provoking was recently written as a part of Greg Palast's new book, "Armed Madhouse" in which the author asked whether the invasion of Iraq by the US had been done to steal Iraqi oil or to steal it and then keep it in the ground.  Mr. Palast is the first author who has asked this second question aloud.

The question posed by the book presupposes that the invasion of Iraq was predicated on controlling its oil; the point of departure from the obvious is whether the objective was to steal Iraq's 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves valued at $30 dollars per barrel or was the intent of the invasion that of CONTROLLING Iraq's oil and taking 2 million barrels of oil per day off the world markets thereby causing an increase in world oil prices until prices reached a more acceptable level of $70 to $100 per barrel before tapping the 112 million barrel "mother lode".   Of course, until George Bush visits one of his foreign "black prisons" with its torture chambers as a "person of interest" we will probably not know the answer.  However, the record of Bush and Cheney in repaying their political contributors is probably the best guide in determining the truth of this matter.  The crowd with which these two run is much more inclined to take the longer-term view of the question at hand.

Besides the advantage of keeping this 112 billion barrel oil bonanza out of the hands of the Chinese, the sum involved in this treasure trove is truly staggering.  The $70 per barrel price of this pot at the end of the rainbow is 784,000,000,000 dollars - as opposed to its 336,000,000,000-dollar value only three years ago.  So, the reason for our being there and killing our own troops becomes obvious at first glance.  However, the profit margin must be examined more closely if a true picture is to be obtained.  The cost of the war at this writing is almost $288,000,000,000, leaving a tidy profit of $496 billion dollars with the loss of only 2500 of Henry Kissinger's "dumb animals that are to be used in the foreign policy needs of the US".  (Of course there have been almost 20 thousand of these "animals" wounded too).  But according to Henry Kissinger and George Bush standards, the cost has been well worth it.  It must also be recognized that the 100,000 or 250,000 Iraqi civilians killed so far are not even counted; nor are the untold numbers of Iraqi wounded civilians noted here. 

It must also be recognized that there are many, many other costs not mentioned here that have a direct application to our interest as Americans to the project of "nation building", freeing Iraqis from the control of a tyrant, searching for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, etc., etc.  Another cost associated with our "humanitarian concern" for Iraqis includes the debilitating effects of depleted uranium on our service personnel in terms of long-term illnesses and birth defects, to say nothing of the devastation being perpetrated on the Iraqi civilian population. Apparently our leaders (sic) feel that contaminating a whole country for 4.5 BILLION YEARS - including its proven and undeveloped oil fields - will not hinder we Americans from producing this oil once we have manipulated world oil prices to a point where our "windfall" profits may be reaped.  (I have yet to find a researcher who has been able to tell me how our oil field personnel are not going to be affected by this radiation.  Radiation is radiation and it does not respect skin color or flag country - it affects everyone with whom it comes in contact).

If the increased price of oil has already given the owners of Iraq's oil reserves a $496 billion profit by holding Iraq's oil production off world markets, then the same reasoning holds that continuing to control Iraq's future production will be tremendously profitable as China and India become larger users of the world's dwindling supply.

However, today world oil markets are reportedly becoming dangerously close to being glaringly glutted with  $70 dollar per barrel oil.  A recent Wall Street Journal noted that Saudi Arabia had taken 100,000 barrels of oil production off the market BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T FIND BUYERS.  Another article disagreed with the 100,000 barrel per day figure and said it was 400,000 barrels of production by which Saudi Arabia had decreased their production.  A third recent article, theoretically written by a Kuwaiti oil minister had said that today's price of oil is too high and that he expects oil prices to stabilize at around $50 dollars per barrel in the near future.  (Of course he didn't say that none of the oil producing states was NOT going to decrease its production in order to hold the price of oil at $70 or increase the price to $100 per barrel).

So where does the truth lie - especially when one factors in "peak oil" and all its ramifications.  Who knows? Answer.  No one.  Today's information age has its own set of pitfalls, one of which is the abundance of information.  The only thing one can view or say with certainty is that man's greed is a historical factor that has never been proven not to be a guiding principal of life.  To avoid trying to prove the "improvable" the focus will now shift to putting the price of oil and the theoretical profits thus far made by the United States into perspective.  The perspective will be established by viewing the value of these profits by trying to imagine the size of a billion of anything.  A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its press releases:  (Note:  This was written in 1959, but it serves its purpose of trying to comprehend the meaning of one billion by using a term with which we are familiar - time).

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

In 2006 a billion dollars ago was only 3 hours and 40 minutes, at the rate Washington is spending it.


Previously it was seen that the United States has so far made a 496 billion dollar profit on the control of Iraq's oil.  This profit has been earned with 2,500 American service men's lives.  This means that each serviceman's life was worth 198,400,000 dollars to our government.  Perhaps with this profit motive before us, it is easier to see why our politicians are so anxious to "spread democracy" to those able to pay.  Perhaps that is the reason we have not felt the need to spread democracy to Darfur or Rwanda.  It is easy to see why Afghanistan assumes second place in our "war on terror".  Perhaps this is what Marine Corps General Smedley Butler meant when he said, "War is a racket".  It is well to keep this in mind when one hears Democrats or Republicans in Washington talk about pulling our troops out of Iraq.  Do YOU think we will pull our troops out with this type profit incentive involved?

Written by Nolan K. Anderson [send him email], who is a retired engineer and a veteran of Korea who was once a "conservative" until he found there was nothing left to conserve and as a veteran hates to see a tour in Korea go to waste. Nolan is a regular contributor to

Tags: foreign policy, Iraq War, Middle East, Oil, Peak Oil, populist, world news (all tags)


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