blogenlust
12.10.2004

The Ironic War


Sometimes you read something and it just makes you shake your head and wonder WTF is going on. This article via Reuters is one example. Iraq, keeper of the world's second largest oil reserves, and invaded by the United States for control over that very same oil, is in a fuel crisis:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. officials in Baghdad fear that a fuel crisis, which has left Iraqi homes cold and dark and drivers waiting days for petrol, may inflame unrest before the election. "If the current situation does not improve quickly, public confidence in the government may deteriorate significantly," a diplomat wrote this week in a note circulated among the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq and obtained by Reuters. Blaming sabotage, banditry and guerrilla attacks on convoys, the note urged "extraordinary efforts" to ease shortages in Baghdad and elsewhere that have sent fuel prices soaring. [...] For Iraqis, who are to vote for a national assembly on Jan. 30, shortages of electricity and fuel are, aside from insecurity in much of the country, prime complaints since the war. With Iraq in the grip of winter, when temperatures drop close to freezing during 12 hours of darkness, electricity seems in shorter supply even than a few months ago, despite constant U.S. efforts to repair war and sabotage damage. Typically many households have two hours of power before a four-hour blackout. [...] On Friday, the North Oil Company said it was halting output at its refinery in Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of the capital, because of sabotage. An explosion also hit a pipeline near Baquba, northwest of Baghdad. Baiji and Baquba are both areas populated by Iraq's once dominant Sunni Arab minority, where loyalties to Saddam Hussein were once strong and where the insurgency against the occupation and pro-U.S. Iraqis is in full swing. U.S. and Iraqi officials fear violence could increase as the election nears. The cost of paraffin for heating has risen fivefold in the capital and bottled cooking gas tenfold, causing serious hardship for the many Iraqis without jobs or regular income. Lines several km (miles) long snake from the city's petrol stations where drivers can fill up for a subsidized 3 U.S. cents a liter. The choice is to pay 20 times as much to profiteers. Anger has boiled over, fights and shooting have broken out.
This war was about oil, plain and simple. There was never any other rational excuse, even in spite of the litany of reasons we were told in the run-up to the war. Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney aren't stupid--they knew their excuses were bullshit, and knew they couldn't come out and say, "Yeah, it's the oil, stupid." And so it is that irony, and not oil, is Iraq's greatest export at the moment. We invaded Iraq for the oil, but don't have enough troops to protect the oil industry, which we were told would pay for the entire misadventure and help fund Iraq's blossoming democracy. Like just about everything else with this war, this great plan backfired, and the only people paying the consequences are those who didn't make the decision. The cost of these consequences is quickly escalating to the point that all the oil in the world won't be able to cover it:
The latest energy problems come as sources in Congress said the U.S. government, facing mounting violence and demands from troops for better equipment, is assembling a funding package for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that could outstrip earlier estimates, by as much as $75 billion to $100 billion.
But not to worry, as the "greatest Secretary of Defense the United States has ever had," Donald Rumsfeld has a plan:

"I don't believe that the United States has the responsibility for reconstruction, in a sense...[Reconstruction] funds can come from those various sources I mentioned: frozen assets, oil revenues and a variety of other things, including the Oil for Food, which has a very substantial number of billions of dollars in it."
[Source: Senate Appropriations Hearing, 3/27/03]

We're in good hands.