Original version published July 15, 2005, in The Moscow Times.
They were still scraping body parts out of the blasted carriages in the London Underground last week when the terrorists brazenly announced a harvest of blood fruits from their murderous campaign. The declaration – bone-chilling in its moral nullity, its brutal cynicism – was made in the fearsome name of Jihad.
That would be Asim Jihad, of course, spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry. Yes, just one day after London's agony, the state terrorists who perpetrated the ongoing mass atrocity of aggressive war in Iraq celebrated an important victory in their campaign of violence and fear: 11 juicy oil fields are being put up for tender to international investors, Italian news agency AdnKronos International reports.
The corporate cornucopia of these fertile fields in oil-laden southern Iraq – 3 million barrels a day, said Jihad – will surpass the nation's entire current output of 2.2 million bpd: rich pickings indeed for the oil barons whose branch office in the White House has done such outstanding advance work for them. With oil prices soaring past $60 a barrel – on their way to the $100 mark in the near future, some experts say – the $25 billion ante that the Iraqis are seeking will be a small price to pay for a seat at this game.
But goodness gracious me – as Pentagon pump-jockey Don Rumsfeld would say, in that prim spinster patois he likes to affect when wiping blood off his hands – nobody in their right mind believes all that money will actually go to the Oil Ministry, which will maintain ostensible control of the sold-off fields for the alleged benefit of the Iraqi people. Heavens to Betsy, no!
Some of the loot will be skimmed by Bushist-favored bagmen in the new Baghdad regime. Some will be siphoned off to fund the death-dealing, torture-happy goon squads now operating on behalf of various factions in the government. Some will be kicked back to the oil barons. And some will be smuggled into slush funds for covert ops, mercenaries, campaign hijinks in the Homeland and "retirement packages" for good and faithful servants of the Bush war machine.
How do we know this will happen? Because it's already happened to Iraqi oil money that fell into the hands of the profiteer-in-chief, George W. Bush. According to detailed audits and investigations by Congress, the Pentagon, the General Accountability Office, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, more than $8.8 billion in Iraqi money under Bush's control simply went walking between October 2003 and July 2004, the London Review of Books reports. These were revenues supposedly earmarked for the Iraqi government – but no one knows where they actually went, except for a few dollops that investigators found were bankrolling many of the worthy endeavors outlined above.
And this epic rapine – looting on a scale not seen since the days of the Mongol Horde – is just a single rivulet in the vast delta of corruption draining the conquered land. Christian Aid estimates that an additional $4 billion in unmetered oil export revenue was sold off under the counter, Saddam-style, to Coalition cronies. Then there were the plane-loads of cold cash spread around by Bush's "Provisional Authority" – off the books, natch – to"couriers," brokers, Western contractors, tribal leaders, "intelligence assets" and anyone else who had the moxie to put their hands out at the right time.
All of this money was stolen from the Iraqi people. In fact, every bit of Iraq's oil money was seized by Bush and transferred to New York's Federal Reserve Bank in May 2003. Perhaps this was the operation Bush was referring to in his ballyhooed "Mission Accomplished" declaration that same month. (He certainly couldn't have been talking about the military mission – not with "major combat operations" still being launched even as we speak.) And oil revenues kept flowing to Bush's bank account after the conquest. All told, by the time Bush's personal viceroy, Jerry Bremer, did his "last days of Saigon" bug-out from Baghdad last year, the Crawford Caligula had run through $20 billion of Iraq's oil money.
No one has been brought to justice for this monstrous – indeed murderous – thievery. And the oil barons preparing to feast on the new tenders needn't worry about such "quaint" notions as legality either. That's because Bush – hugger-muggger as usual – recently renewed his infamous Executive Order 13303, the blanket immunity for all U.S. corporate interests involved in any way with Iraq's oil, Deep Blade reports. The original edict was issued in that fateful, fruitful month of May 2003.
Bush's ukase applies to all traffickers in Iraqi oil – as long as their loot finds its way, by hook or crook, into the coffers of "United States persons or entities." Bush declares flatly that any "judicial process" launched against these protected entities – not excluding criminal proceedings for, say, fraud, corruption, extortion, even murder – "shall be deemed null and void." But what if some rogue nation still clinging to the outmoded principle of law and order tries to take Bush's cronies to court? Not to worry: one of the many agencies authorized to "employ all powers" to "carry out the purposes of this order" is none other than Spinster Rumsfeld's own little parlor – the Pentagon.
Money and power, grabbed through violence and deceit: that's the real point – the only point – of Bush's "war on terror." It is in fact a war of terror, where both sides use senseless murder and mass slaughter to advance their degraded ambitions. No doubt the innocent victims of the London bombing are happy to have died in the service of such a noble cause.