Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Are U.S. Oil Companies Going to 'Win' the Iraq War?" (Antonia Juhasz)

"The U.S. invasion of Iraq was not preemption; it was ... an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages." - Michael Scheuer, the CIA's senior expert on al-Qaeda until he quit in disgust with the Bush administration, in Imperial Hubris.
Remember oil? That resource we didn't go to war for in Iraq?
Well, you'll have a tough time convincing anyone in Iraq of this particular claim if a new oil law set to go before the Iraqi Parliament within weeks (or even days) becomes the law of the land.
On Monday, the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies came one step closer to "winning" the war in Iraq when the Iraqi Cabinet passed this new national oil law.
The brainchild of the Bush administration and its corporate allies, the law is the smoking gun exposing Bush's war for oil.
The Oil Law
If passed, the law would transform Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model all-but-closed to U.S. oil companies, to a commercialized model, all-but-fully privatized and opened to U.S. corporate control.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies were shut out of Iraq's oil industry with the exception of limited marketing contracts.
As a result of the invasion, if the oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years.
The law grants the Iraq National Oil Company oversight only over "existing" fields, which is about one-third of Iraq's oil. Exploration and production contracts for the remaining two-thirds of Iraq's oil will be opened to private foreign investment. Neither Iraqi public nor private oil companies will receive any preference in contracting decisions.
The contracts allow for foreign companies to take ownership of Iraq's oil fields without actually having to get to work for as long as seven years. Thus, the companies can take advantage of the incredibly weak negotiating position of the Iraqi government at a time of foreign occupation and civil war, while simultaneously being able to "ride out" the current "instability" in Iraq.
Foreign companies do not have to reinvest any of their earnings in the Iraqi economy, hire or train Iraqi workers, transfer useful technology, or partner with Iraqi companies.

The above, noted by Charlie, is from Antonia Juhasz' "Are U.S. Oil Companies Going to "Win" the Iraq War?" (The Huffington Post). Juhasz is one of the few people who has followed this and can address it (Global Exchange's Raed Jarrar is another). If, like Mike, you're scratching your head over people who rush in to provide cover for the oil theft (after previously providing cover for Baker-Hamilton), well just remember that despite the myths of today, NAFTA was sold by more than the mainstream and some of the sellers were of the 'left.' Maybe someone's rebelling against Daddy, maybe someone thinks they can read an oil contract (the way they did the Baker-Hamilton garbage) and grasp it (obviously they can't) but if you're of the 'left' and you're providing cover for the theft of Iraq oil, you're raising questions not only about yourself but also about you're comprehension of the term "self-rule."

Skip notes that US war resister Joshua Key, and his new book The Deserter's Tale, garners "attention all over the world, or at least here in Australia." From "Courage under fire" (Australia's The Age):

After seeing Iraqi civilians brutalised by the US Army, Private Joshua Key made the bravest decision of his life - he walked away. Peter Wilmoth reports.
At night, Joshua Key often returns to Iraq. "You close your eyes and you go back there," he says. While the snow piles up outside his home in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, his wife Brandi and four children sleep. But Key can't.
When he sleeps, he "sees" the atrocities he witnessed as a reluctant private in the US Army and, later, as a deserter from it.
Maybe the worst memory that revisits him in these hours is the seven-year-old Iraqi girl who every day would run up to him when he was on guard duty at a hospital. Unafraid of his M249 machine gun, and ignoring his pleas to leave the area, the girl he called "little sister" would call out the only English words she knew: "Mister. Food."
Key would throw her one of his MREs ("meals ready to eat"). Every day, Key made sure he had one of the packets ready for her. He writes about the day their friendship ended in a new book,
The Deserter's Tale: Why I Walked Away From the War in Iraq.
"I saw the girl run out of the house, across the street and towards the fence that stood between us," Key writes.
"I reached for an MRE, looked up to see her about 10 feet (three metres) away, heard the distinctive sound of American machine-gun fire, and saw her head blow up like a mushroom. Even today I can't help thinking that it was one of my own guys who did it. And I can't help feeling I was responsible for her death. She would be 10 or so years old now, around the same age as my eldest son, Zackary."
Key's is a soldier's story that encompasses all the dark sides of life during and after a dirty and unpopular war. It's a story about untramelled power in the hands of young, gun-happy American grunts and commanders happy to avert their eyes; about terror imposed by those charged with rooting out terrorism; about the US Army's manipulation of America's poor, for whom signing with the US forces - the "poverty draft" - is often the only way out. It's a story you won't hear from the spin doctors in Washington or Canberra.
Joshua Key was born in 1978 and grew up in a two-bedroom trailer in a small town in Oklahoma. The family had no books or magazines around, but plenty of guns. He shot a .357 magnum rifle on his ninth birthday. It was a rough childhood characterised by teen drinking, brawling and sometimes brutal farm life. "(But) even in my earliest years I knew right from wrong," he writes. "It wasn't right to kill puppies with a hammer, which is why I shot and buried a litter of pups before my grandfather could get at them in his old-fashioned way."

By the way, I know people have problems with the Los Angeles Times, but remember that Martin Rubin reviewed Key's book. And for visitors who are asking "problems"? That's not content, that's access. The LA Times would do better to stop blaming editors and reporters for their online 'traffic' figures and instead work on making the paper's website accessible. Folding Star e-mailed Wednesday night about this. FS has the same problem everyone else does. You use a link and may get the story (the first one you'd be viewing that visit) or you may get asked to register. Yes, it's a free registration (like the New York Times) but it's also a repeated registration. Every time you visit, you're being asked to log in. It's not a cookies issue, as Brandon pointed out, because his computer has no problem remembering his log in at the Washington Post. It's an issue that the Los Angeles Times' website has and if someone's going to complain to the people in charge of content about the lack of 'traffic,' they damn well need to take a look at the issue of access. Kara doesn't even try to read anything but the excerpts anymore because she's sick of the repeated requests to log in and points out that not only should the website be able to fix that problem, they shouldn't be asking people to log in to read one story. (Kara has a log in and notes that when she visits the New York Times, she's always logged in unless she's cleared her history and cookies but with LA Times, they are asking her to log in again every time she visits.) We'll note it because it's a problem for members and because the paper has griped about the 'traffic' to people in charge of content. What they should be doing is fixing the issue of access -- that's where the 'traffic' problem is.

Staying on US papers, we'll note, from the New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's "Iraqi Soccer Players Killed; 16 Policemen Found Dead:"

Two soccer players in their 20s were killed Thursday night in front of their teammates in Ramadi by gunmen who claimed that the players had collaborated with a Sunni group that opposes insurgents and is believed to have ties to the Americans, according to witnesses and the police.
As the sun set Thursday, three cars carrying 10 masked men pulled up at a community field where two neighborhood teams were playing less than 300 feet from the main government building in Ramadi, a city west of Baghdad.
The men poured out of the cars and grabbed Muhammad Hammed Nawaf, 26, who plays for the Ramadi club, and his teammate Muhammad Meshaan, who witnesses said was in his early 20s.
They tied the men's hands and tried to drag them toward the cars. Both struggled to get away.
The armed men shot Mr. Meshaan dead. Mr. Nawaf then asked them to free him, said the team manager, who was standing nearby.
"He said, 'If you have anything against me, shoot me; but if not, leave me alone,' " said Khalid al-Ghargholi, the team’s manager. "Muhammad tried to run away, but he stumbled on a rock, fell on the ground, and the armed men shot him dead at once. They started yelling, 'This is the destiny of anyone who works with secret police.' "

And that's it from that paper because, unlike Thomas Friedman, I don't operate from a belief system that if someone doesn't denounce every action in the world, they must be in favor of it. (Those who, like Friedman, apply that belief -- at least to others, if not themselves -- can check out Edward Wong's article this morning.)

Lloyd notes Michael Abramowitz and Steve Vogel's "Army Secretary Ousted" (Washington Post) and we're going to zoom in on two paragraphs, pay close attention especially to the second:

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have strongly denounced the administration for what they call insufficient attention to the needs of returning soldiers. At least two committees are mobilizing to investigate the Walter Reed situation. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a subpoena yesterday to compel Weightman to testify at a congressional hearing Monday.
The committee also released an internal Army memorandum reportedly written in September in which the Walter Reed garrison commander, Col. Peter Garibaldi, warned Weightman that "patient care services are at risk of mission failure" because of staff shortages brought on by the privatization of the hospital's support workforce.

The privatization aspect -- again. And where the government should have been providing oversight, oversight was ignored.

Meanwhile, Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Sunni Insurgents Ascendant in Iraq's Caldron of Violence: 14 Police Officers Found Shot to Death After Call for Retribution in Rape Case" (Washington Post):

In the photos, the 18 men were blindfolded, their hands tied behind their backs. They appeared Friday on the Web site of a Sunni insurgent group that said it had kidnapped the men to avenge the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by members of Iraq's Shiite-dominated police force.
The Islamic State of Iraq said on its site that it had demanded Thursday that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hand over the accused policemen and free all female prisoners within 24 hours.

On Friday, officials found the bodies of 14 policemen in Diyala province east of Baghdad. All had been shot in the head.
"The government did not give any importance to their blood," the Islamic State of Iraq said. A government official said he doubted the dead were the men in the photos.
More than two weeks into a new Baghdad security plan, Sunni insurgents are asserting responsibility for an increasing number of violent attacks against U.S. and Iraqi security forces and civilian targets, while Shiite militias are lowering their profile.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

Saturday and Keesha beat everyone by noting Margaret Kimberley first (on Wednesday). From Kimberley's Kimberley's "Top Ten Questions for Would Be Presidents" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

It is early 2007 and the 2008 presidential race is already in full swing. Not that you would know it from the level of discourse the corporate media presents to the public. Republicans get positive coverage while Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama trade nasty barbs through surrogates in the entertainment industry. Dennis Kucinich, the most progressive candidate, is either ignored or ridiculed.
What should you say if you bump into Hillary, Barack, Dennis, John Edwards, Chris Dodd or Bill Richardson? None of the Democratic candidates should be given a pass by the rank and file. Fund raising prowess plays too large a role in the nominations process but it would be even more shameful if progressives shrugged off efforts to engage candidates and ask them hard questions about important issues.
Fortunately all of the candidates will have to debate one another and occasionally interact with the public. When they do they should have to tell us how they will restore democracy and end the terrible wrongs committed by the Bush administration. Here are ten questions they should answer before getting progressive support.
1. Will you end the occupation of Iraq?
The invasion and occupation of Iraq is a terrible crime committed against the Iraqi people. More than 600,000 of them have been killed by the U.S. military, their resources have been stolen, and Uncle Sam replaced Saddam as the Abu Ghraib jailer. Halliburton and other corporations have grown fat thanks to welfare provided courtesy of the American tax payer.
2. Will Jose Padilla still be in prison? Will you close Guantanamo?
Before George W. Bush became president, the United States government put suspects on trial. They had to be indicted and were then tried before juries comprised of civilian citizens. Even suspects in terror cases, whether American citizens or not, were entitled to due process. There were no "enemy combatants" driven to suicide by physical and psychological torture.
3. Will you enact a plan for universal health care?
The health care system currently in existence is the most expensive on the planet yet doesn't provide the best care or any care at all for millions of people. Insurance companies make enormous profits because they deny coverage to sick people. Only Americans are subjected to such an awful system.

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antonia juhasz
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