A War for Oil and Empire

George Gruenthal
NYC Working People’s Voice

May 15, 2003

The U.S. has invaded and occupied Iraq, as it earlier invaded and occupied Afghanistan. Other countries, both "enemies" and former "friends" of the U.S. government are under threat of attack. In the countries under occupation, resistance to rule by the U.S. and its puppets is continuing. Each day, thousands of Iraqis are in the streets, chanting "U.S. Go Home."

U.S. troops protected oil refinery in Kirkuk, Iraq, while looters ransacked other facilities undisturbed.

The war on Iraq was waged against the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world, including large numbers within the U.S. Bush went against the wishes of the majority in the UN, without the approval of the Security Council, with the opposition of many of its NATO allies. He was willing to risk alienating friendship with Russia and China. To understand the reasons for this, we must see what the war is about.

The U.S. is trying to ensure that it is the only superpower that can dominate the world. It aims to eliminate any government anywhere that maintains some independence from the rule of the U.S. monopoly corporations. That is why, in Bush’s infamous "axis of evil" speech, he targeted Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Iraq was the first of these countries to be attacked, largely because it possesses the world’s second largest oil reserves.


I Want Your

The U.S. wants to control this huge supply of oil. It needs this, not to provide cheap oil for the consumers, but to maintain the domination of the U.S. oil monopolies over the world market. And cheap oil is not in the interests of the profits of these monopolies.

Secondly, by dominating the world’s oil reserves it will force other powers in the world to depend on the U.S. monopolies for their oil. Iraq under Saddam Hussein was limited in its ability to sell its oil on the world market, due to the US/UN sanctions. However, it maintained normal trade relations with Germany and France, which do not have their own oil supply. What was worse, as far as the U.S. monopolies and their government were concerned, was that it kept the reserves from its oil sales in Euros (the new currency of the European Union countries) and not in dollars. It also purchased goods, including some military goods, from the European Union as well as Russia and China.

The Bush Regime and
the Oil Monopolies

While all governments in this monopoly capitalist system are representative of the major corporations, the Bush administration is made up heavily of those tied to major oil companies. For example:

  • Vice President Dick Cheney was chief executive of the giant oil conglomerate Halliburton, which specializes in oil pipelines. Halliburton has already been chosen as one of the companies to profit in multi-billion dollar contracts from the "reconstruction" of Iraq.
  • Condoleezza Rice was a director of Chevron before becoming National Security Adviser.
  • Don Evans, Secretary of Commerce, is President of Tom Brown Inc. and member of the board of Sharp Drilling.
  • Bush family adviser James A. Baker III heads the law firm of Baker Botts, which represents a consortium of companies drilling and exploring for oil in the Caspian Sea.

President Bush himself was the head of the former Texas oil exploration and distribution company Arbusto. George Bush Sr. is a member of the Carlyle Group (in which bin Laden’s family also had stakes), as well as a member of the board of Halliburton.

Iran is also relatively independent of the U.S., and also has good relations with the European Union countries, Russia and China. It, like Venezuela, has also been considering keeping its oil reserves in Euros. The EU has been rapidly developing its economic and financial power, even though militarily it is still far behind the U.S. It has been exporting its capital faster than the U.S. to certain key regions, including much of Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. This has led other countries in the Middle East, including key U.S. clients such as Saudi Arabia, to distance themselves from the U.S. Not only did Saudi Arabia refuse to take part in the U.S.-British war against Iraq, but it has also been considering keeping the money from its huge oil sales in Euros. Saudi Arabia has always used its dollar reserves to buy huge quantities of goods, especially military goods, from the U.S. If it too switched to Euros this would make it easier for it to purchase such goods from the EU. This could seriously affect the U.S. foreign trade and its balance of payments. This is the reason why one of the more reactionary but intelligent commentators in the capitalist press, Michael Kramer of the New York Daily News, stated on March 21 of this year that "After Iraq, three nations, all seen as supporting Al Qaeda in various ways, will be first up in America’s sights: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. None will be invaded, but all must be dealt with." If the U.S. is successful in occupying Iraq, it is very possible that one or more of these countries will be targets of a future U.S. invasion, even without evidence of any ties to Al Qaeda.

Since the end of the "Cold War," the U.S. has relished being the only superpower. But the development of a competing bloc of the EU, Russia, China and a number of strategically important "Third World" countries is a real possibility. Shortly after 9-11, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a visit to the German Parliament in Berlin. In his speech there he said: "No one denies the great value of Europe’s relationship to the United States. But I am of the opinion that Europe will in the long run only strengthen its reputation as a powerful and independent center of world politics, if its own potentialities are combined with Russia’s human, territorial and natural resources as well as with its economic, cultural and defense potential." (Quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 27, 2001.) Although this speech was not well publicized in this country, it was certainly taken seriously by the U.S. government.

U.S. Document Sets World Domination As Goal

The possibility of the development of a rival to the interests of the U.S. monopolies has led to some important shifts in U.S. strategic planning. The government released a very important document in September 2002 called "National Security Strategy of the United States of America" (on the web at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.pdf). Although it is expressed in sanitized form for public opinion, it makes clear that the U.S. will attempt to maintain its status as the world’s only superpower. Among other things it stated: "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States" (p. 30). This same document also put forward new military doctrines, including the need to fight preemptive wars. In connection with this, it stated that: "the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. forces" (p. 29). It has already acquired permanent bases in Afghanistan and expects to gain them in occupied Iraq, and it has gained temporary bases in Central Asia as well as in the Persian Gulf.

Open Plans for U.S. World Domination

The U.S. government has been using the attacks of 9-11-01 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to justify its new round of wars. In light of this it is important to note that many of the same elements in the Bush administration were planning such wars even before 9-11.

The revealingly named "Project for a New American Century" is a conservative think-tank formed in 1997 in Washington DC. Among its founders were current Vice-President Dick Cheney, current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, current Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former Vice-President Dan Quayle, and current Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In September of 2000 it published a document called "Rebuilding America’s Defenses" (on the web at: http://newamericancentury.org/
). It stated that: "If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence" (p. 4). It talked of the need to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars" (p. iv) and of building new nuclear weapons to use against underground bunkers (p. 8). Lastly, it stated: "Further, the process of transformation [in U.S. military doctrine – WPV], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor" (p. 51).

Conveniently for these forces, if not worse, such a new Pearl Harbor did take place just one year later on 9-11-01.

These are the reasons for the split in the UN Security Council and particularly among NATO powers over the invasion of Iraq. During the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. was able to form a broad coalition with the European countries, Russia, China and most Middle Eastern countries against Iraq. This coalition basically held through the war against Yugoslavia in 1999 and the war against Afghanistan in 2001.

But this coalition began to crumble when France, Russia, China and the majority of the Security Council opposed any Security Council resolution backing the U.S. war against Iraq. France and other EU countries would still like to get a share of the spoils by participating in "rebuilding" Iraq under a UN cover. However, the opposition of all these countries forced the U.S. to go it almost alone in its war on Iraq. (Britain, its only significant ally, is the only country in Europe with its own supply of oil from the North Sea, and it has refused to join the other countries of the EU in accepting the Euro as its currency.) This helped to expose the aims of the U.S. government in its war for oil and for the interests of the U.S. monopolies as a whole.

The U.S. war on Iraq is only the latest in a series of unbridled wars of aggression. Hitler began World War II by proclaiming the right to invade any country that stood up to the dictates of the German monopolies and their fascist government. The Bush regime has also promised a period of "endless wars" against those who do not submit to the interests of the U.S. monopolies. Besides its major wars, the U.S. has recently sent troops to the Philippines and Colombia to fight against the national liberation movements in these countries; it has even sent troops to the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Hitler’s drive to war was accompanied by the total elimination of the rights of the German working people. Bush too is leading an attack on the civil liberties of U.S. working people, though at a somewhat slower pace. He is promoting mass unemployment as a source of cheap labor and has announced his intention to eliminate some 800,000 unionized federal jobs. This U.S. drive towards war and the suppression of democratic rights must be defeated by the united actions of all working people and democratic forces worldwide. In this united action, the working people of the U.S., who already oppose this war in large numbers, must stand together with the majority of people of the world. It is the task of all progressive forces to help organize this resistance!

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