This is a bit lengthy but forms a worthwhile study for anyone willing to consider that the Iraqi people and Iraqi sovereignty and a shining beacon of democracy for the new middle east and even the defeat of al Qaeda might all be smoke and mirrors for Bush Cheney. Add to this analysis, the importance of getting East Caspian oil and gas to market but away from Russia and China to better appreciate Afghanistan cum Iraq.
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US eyes still on the Iraqi prize
By Michael Schwartz
The struggle over Iraqi oil has been going on for a long, long time. One could date it to 1980 when president Jimmy Carter - before his Habitat for Humanity days - declared that Persian Gulf oil was "vital" to US national interests. So vital was it, he announced, that the United States would use "any means necessary, including military force", to sustain access to it.
Soon afterward, Carter announced the creation of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, a new military command structure
that would eventually develop into US Central Command (Centcom) and give future presidents the ability to intervene relatively quickly and massively in the region.
Or we could date it back to World War II, when British officials declared Middle Eastern oil "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination" and US officials seconded the thought, calling it "a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history".
The date when the struggle for Iraqi oil began is less critical than our ability to trace the ever-growing willingness to use "any means necessary" to control such a "vital prize" into the present. We know, for example, that before and after he ascended to the US vice presidency, Dick Cheney has had his eye squarely on the prize. In 1999, for example, he told the Institute of Petroleum Engineers that when it came to satisfying the exploding demand for oil, "The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."
The mysterious Energy Task Force he headed on taking office in 2001 eschewed conservation or developing alternative sources as the main response to any impending energy crisis, preferring instead to make the Middle East "a primary focus of US international energy policy". As part of this focus, the task force recommended that the administration put its energy, so to speak, into persuading Middle Eastern countries "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment" - in other words, into a policy of reversing 25 years of state control over the petroleum industry in the region.
The Energy Task Force set about planning how to accomplish this historic reversal. We know, for instance, that it scrutinized a detailed map of Iraq's oilfields, together with the (non-US) oil companies scheduled to develop them (once the United Nations sanctions still in place on Saddam Hussein's regime were lifted). It then worked jointly with the administration's national-security team to find a compatible combination of military and economic policies that might inject US power into this equation.
According to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, the National Security Council directed its staff "to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: 'the review of operational policies towards rogue states', such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields'".
While we cannot be sure that this planning itself was instrumental in setting the US on a course toward invading Iraq, we can be sure that plenty of energy was being expended in Washington planning for the disposition of Iraq's massive oil reserves once that invasion was successfully executed.