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Reasons behind the war with Iraq


Project: History of US Interventions

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       US FBI chief William Webster meets with the Emir of Kuwait and plots the seizure of Iraqi oil fields and the slant-drilling with which Kuwait and western oil companies would steal $14 billion worth of Iraqi oil, and which provided one of the main incentives for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. [Article; Article; Article]


       It was recently revealed that a purpose of Rumsfeld's meeting with Saddam in '83 was to negotiate a deal for an oil pipeline to be built by the company Bechtel (now in line for post-war construction contracts) through Iraq. Despite much work and dirty-dealing by US officials, the plan would later by rejected by Saddam in '85. [Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article]

May 1990

       The Soviet Union has collapsed, and the American people are clamoring for a peace dividend. A new bad guy is needed fast. In May 1990 (three months before the first Gulf War), a National Security Council white paper states that Iraq and Saddam Hussein are 'the optimum contenders to replace the Warsaw pact as the rationale for major military expenditures.' [Essay; Article; Article]


       PNAC formed, its members including Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Bush's brother Jeb among others. The group lobbies the government to go to war with Iraq and remove Saddam, writing in 1998 in this letter that '"We should establish and maintain a strong US military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the Gulf - and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power' and in this letter that the government 'strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Husseins regime from power'. [Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article]


       The International Energy Annual reveals the oil reserves/production ratios for a number of countries, revealing that at current rates, the US, Canada (the US's main supplier of oil) and Britain's proven oil reserves will be exhausted within 5-7 years. In contrast, Iraq's will last the longest, 142 years, at current production rates, and Kuwait's second longest. [Graph]


       The PNAC Report of 2000 talks about using Saddam as an excuse for extending the US role in the gulf - 'the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.' [PNAC Report; Article]

April 2001

       A report entitled 'Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century' is submitted to Vice President Dick Cheney, advocating a policy of using military force against an enemy such as Iraq to secure US access to, and control of, Middle Eastern oil fields.

''Iraq remains a destabilising influence to ... the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil markets.'. The document also points out that 'the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma', and that one of the 'consequences' of this is a 'need for military intervention'. It says the 'central dilemma' for the US administration is that 'the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience'. [Sunday Herald article; Article]


May 2001

       The US energy department frighten politicians with a study known as the Cheney report (after the former head of Halliburton oil services group, now US vice-president, who wrote it). He predicts that imported oil would need to rise from 10.4 million barrels a day at present to 16.7 million barrels a day by 2020. [Guardian article]

Aug 2002

       Cheney launches the new initiative against Iraq, arguing that the danger Iraq would pose if it obtained nuclear weapons would be that it could 'manipulate the world's energy supplies because Iraq holds 10 percent of the world's oil reserves'. [CNN article; Article]

Oct 2002

       US Govt report shows Iraq has signed several multi-billion dollar deals with foreign oil companies mainly from China, France, and Russia. Deutsche Bank estimates $38 billion total on new fields ... having reportedly signed a flurry of deals in recent weeks and months with companies from Italy (Eni), Spain (Repsol YPF), Russia (Tatneft), France (TotalFinaElf), China, India, Turkey, and others. Spot who's missing :). [US Gov report]

Oct 2002

       Energy companies start to position themselves for a role in the revival of Iraq's oil industry. British companies are concerned they may not get their share of the pie. [Article]

Jan 2003

       Guardian reports on international oil companies jostling for rights to post-war oil, and also provides a nice summary of the close ties between the Bush administration and oil companies [Guardian article] Among these companies is Halliburton, to which US vice-president Dick Cheney has deep ties. [BBC article]

Mar 25, 2003

       Halliburton is one of two companies to receive the first contracts for rebuilding Iraq. [CNN article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article]

May 2003

       US and Britain present a resolution to the UN which gives the US and Britain control over how the profits from Iraqi oil sales should be spent, and gives the US and UK an open-ended mandate to stay in Iraq and run the country 'until an internationally recognized, representative government is established by the people of Iraq'. A modified draft is eventually accepted by the UN. [BBC article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article]


       Halliburton is reaping billions of dollars in contracts in Iraq. [AJC article; Article; Article]
       Total petroleum demand in the US is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.7% each year through to 2025, with Petroleum imports required to meet this demand expected to almost double in that time from 23.29 to 41.23 (quadrillion Btu). [US Govt report; Article; Article]
       Another factor that shouldn't be forgotten is the defense industry's influence on the US government. Conservative estimates are that defense contractors have been the source of $72.5 million in contributions to federal candidates and parties from 1989 to present. 32 major appointees of the Bush Administration - including the deputy secretaries of defense and state, and the secretaries of the Navy and Air Force - are former executives, consultants or major shareholders of top military contractors. Further, 95 out of the 100 members of the US Senate received contributions from the defense sector. [Article]

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