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One drop of blood in every gallon

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: June 26, 2008 12:05 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2008 5:03 a.m.
After an absence of 36 years, the big Western oil companies are back in Iraq.

You might have missed the news story last week. A very big thing, but announced without fanfare for reasons of "sensitivity and security."

Thirty-six years after losing their half-century-old Iraq oil concession, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Chevron, and British Petroleum are again returning to Iraq to service that nation's war-crippled oil industry.

Back in the day, these "majors," as they are called, were the original members of the Iraq Petroleum Company. They were booted out in 1972 when Saddam Hussein rose to power and nationalized Iraq's oil industry.

Now, thanks to opportunities provided by the war, they're back in the saddle. Prevailing over companies from many competing nations, these "majors" are being dolled out half-billion-dollar no-bid managerial contracts by the Iraqi Oil Ministry - a ministry staffed, in part, by American advisers.

Leaders of Exxon, Shell, Chevron and BP are reported as being concerned over appearances of war profiteering.

No-bid contracts are highly unusual, and while the deals are expected to last just two years, they are strong footholds to the long-term management of Iraq's oil industry by the American and British firms.

Said the International Herald Tribune of the story, "There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism."

The Herald Tribune severely understates the deep public suspicion over administration motives.

Five years into the "not for oil" war, the same companies holding you and me hostage with $4.75 gasoline are locking down Iraq's oil wealth with no-bid contracts made possible by our fallen and maimed soldiers.

These "majors" are right to be concerned over appearances of war profiteering. And George Bush would be right to be concerned over appearance of war crimes.

As all recall, Bush's initial sales job for the war was so much smoke and mirrors. Alarms loudly sounded of yellow cake, mobile weapons labs, hidden chemical warheads.

Bush, Cheney and Rice gravely assured Americans the war was absolutely necessary to remove dangerous terrorism threats posed by a rogue dictator.

The war was never - oh, gosh, never - about blood for oil. But over these five years, as the smoke has cleared from the mirrors, all we're left with are smoking guns. The majors are back in town.

The case looks open and shut. Blood for oil. Bush and oil execs may contest that there is no linkage, and that Western firms are the most competent to aid the Iraq oil industry.

But whether the plot existed from the start, or whether it just coincidentally turned out that way, there's no getting around that blood was spilled and oil now flows while American GIs provide the cover.

It's a straightforward chronology:

America preemptively attacks Iraq. We cause and incur much blood, death, and misery. We search high and low for weapons of mass destruction, but despite solid assurances of their existence, none are ever found.

American GIs soldier on, but now for ever-changing purposes. We lose 5,000 troops, with 20,000 more maimed. We build the world's largest U.S. embassy and construct permanent military bases.

Now, five years after "mission accomplished" and 1 trillion American tax dollars later, insanely rich Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and Shell have accomplished their mission toward restoration of pre-Hussein positions of power.

The new deal with Iraq should take just a few months before the tainted oil reaches our shores. And when it does, Exxon, Shell and the others will be selling it with a new fuel additive.

Not Techron. Not some engine-cleaning detergent. Rather, this additive is "A DROP OF AMERICAN BLOOD IN EVERY GALLON."

Blood and oil have sadly long been mixed. But this time we were promised it wouldn't be.

This travesty will long haunt us. The assurances to families of fallen soldiers - "Your martyred solider died for freedom's cause" - rings hollow with announcement of these oil deals.

That Exxon, Shell and Chevron are back in Iraq - even while our soldiers continue to fight and die providing their security - is beyond decency.
But, as with the run-up to the war, Americans are again being made fearful. Afraid of gas shortages. Afraid of high fuel prices. Afraid of the very disruption of our oil-based lifestyles.

Perhaps in the back of our minds, we're just a little relieved that, given the alternatives of running out of gas, maybe war for oil isn't such a bad trade, after all.

But in the moment you think it, you've bought into the lie and sullied yourself with American blood. That drop of blood in every gallon taints our tanks and souls with degrading corruption.

Now is not the time to buy gasoline; it's the time to boycott oil companies. Now is not the time to fear Big Oil; it's time to fight it. Now is not the time to commit to drilling more oil; it's the time to declare our independence from it.

Make no mistake: Those handles and hoses at the gas pumps are the hands and limbs of our sacrificed soldiers.

The gas flowing from the nozzle is the blood that flowed from their torn and shattered bodies.

The high price you pay at the pump is the low price the Bush administration put on their lives.

Next time you grasp the handle of an Exxon, Shell or Chevron gas nozzle, feel the handshake of the American GI who died for that fuel.

Your grip on that nozzle is your tactile bond with American soldiers from beyond the grave. When you pull the nozzle from the pump, pull out your memorials, as well. At least in remembering them, we pay a due respect.

Is America really willing to forget this national travesty and passively accept coerced subjection to oil tyranny?

Yes, you should rightly be outraged.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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