In a well choreographed public relations event just a little over five years ago, President George W. Bush landed his SV-3 Viking on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego, CA. Emerging from the aircraft in his flight suit, he was greeted by cheering crew members and gave his victory speech under the prematurely furled 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED' banner.
Fast forward to June 2008: five years, 4,000+ American lives lost, 20,000 troops permanently wounded and $800 billion of a potential $3 trillion spent, plus untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and almost 5 million displaced. Now it's time to dust off that banner and have a more truthful replay. We've heard all the justifications of our invasion of Iraq from weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds (non-existent), to Saddam as a cruel and evil man (true, but he was boxed in), to the Al Qaeda/Iraq connection (false), to spread democracy for a peaceful role model in a turbulent region (possibly), etc. Some even went so far as to link the Iraq theater to some Oedipal psycho-drama between W and H W to prove that sonny had overcome his past irresponsibilities and failures to achieve something his dad wouldn't even have tried.
Frequently the "O" word came up. Alan Greenspan gave that theory credibility in his book "The Age of Turbulence." The administration threw all kinds of justifications at the media to see if anything would stick. Even Congress bought into the nonsense. Some even went so far as to "vote against the war, before I voted for it." We should have paid more attention to the pleading of Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) to "stop the madness."
Two weeks ago a news item came out barely making it above the radar that gives credence to oil as the "casus belli" for this whole fiasco. Thirty-six long dry years after nationalization of the oil fields in Iraq, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Total signed a no-bid contract with the Iraqi Oil Ministry to develop the oilfields and boost production in the country with the third largest proven reserves in the world.
I suggest we dust off the old "Mission Accomplished" banner, smear it with something resembling a combination of light crude and a bit of hemoglobin, hoist it high on an ExxonMobil oil rig somewhere offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and have our president do a more timely replay of the victory speech. He could land in an Apache helicopter, jump out in his flight suit and confirm in a redux of the first message that we have found out how all our oil collected under Iraqi's sand. Even Paul Wolfowitz said that "Iraq floats on a sea of oil."
Like they say "Follow the money." At over $4.00 per gallon the petroleum folks are smiling, while the rest of us common folk are struggling and facing economic uncertainty. Congress talks about drilling in ANWR and offshore, but that's just a ruse. The only way the oil companies can get there is under the present oil friendly administration, so they want to act now before the Democrats take over Washington. Big oil is sitting on 41 million acres of federal oil leases, of which they are only drilling 11 million, but they have to get to ANWR, which at best will take 10 years to develop and will reduce the price by only 10-20 cents a gallon. So we're approaching peak oil, and the Saudis will increase production by 200,000 barrels a day. At $140 a barrel I would, too.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi is laughing all the way to the bank. We haven't built a new refinery in more than 30 years, and we're near capacity now. So when there's a Katrina or a changeover blend, production suffers, but the demand stays high and so does the price. Don't blame market forces alone, sure China and India are competitors for a restricted supply, but why "flood" the market with oil when a restricted supply creates obscene profits for ExxonMobil of $31 billion in the first quarter of 2008 alone. Their executives will tell you that they've made large investments in renewable energy resources (about 1% is what it comes to). Big deal! How about the speculators, betting that the prices will go up creating a self fulfilling prophecy through deregulation adding anywhere from 25-40% to the cost at the pump!
Six years after the fact wouldn't we all like to know what went on behind closed doors with Vice President Cheney, the CEOs and the lobbyists for the oil, natural gas and coal industries as they crafted our energy policy? Why have they never let the American people know what we have a right to know? (Kind of reminds me of the tobacco CEOs in front of Congress, denying the hazardous effects of smoking).