Monday, June 25, 2007

The Oil That Binds Us

Only a small minority of Americans approve of the Iraq War. Most want it ended and US troops brought home to safety. The Repugs are terrified of the prospect of having to fight an election on the war.

According to the LA Times, Bush administration officials such as Gates and Khalilzad are hinting that a compromise is in the works. Having forced the Democratic congress to back down once, the Bushies apparently realize that this is one battle they just can't keep winning. And so, some sort of deal is being thrown together, a political peace offering.

Will the US leave Iraq? Don't bet on it. The Bush regime may deny that oil was behind their decision to invade but oil certainly is a major factor, perhaps the major factor that will force at least some US military presence to soldier on. It may be smaller than the 150-thousand strong force deployed today (it will have to be) but it will stay on.

It's all about oil or, rather, the prospect of the Middle East's oil wealth falling into Shiite control. If you take Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, you have the lion's share of Arab oil. Iraq is obviously going to be dominated by Shia just as Iran has always been. Most folks don't know it but Saudi Arabia's key oilfields are in areas where that country's Shiite majority dominate and they're becoming restless. The prospect of a Shia bloc with its hand on the tap of Middle Eastern oil is more than Washington could bear.
It is Iraq's very instability that has Washington shoving and pushing, threatening and cajoling the Baghdad government to approve its draft oil law. Ostensibly it's about establishing an equitable arrangement for distribution of oil wealth among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. That's the window-dressing. The real significance of the law is that it would vest control of much of Iraq's oil wealth in foreign, i.e. American, companies. Once American companies have long-term rights to develop, produce and control Iraqi oil, the US government has rights it can protect and enforce, militarily if need be.

And that's why the United States won't be leaving Iraq anytime soon.

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