USA - IRAQ: a commercial war

by Adriano Autino


The war of Troia and the war of Baghdad

We wrote, in a recent editorial, that the economy alone could not answer to the need of development of Humanity, and we wished a strong coming back of the Politics on the Earth's scene. Someone thought to perform a short circuit and to pass directly to the war the (I don't remember who said it) is the continuation of the politics by other means. About the rationales of this war, I refuse to fix my attention on the superficial and sensational analysis showing us a Bill Clinton, capricious as a modern Caligola, dealing heavy blows at right and left in order to cover his own misdeeds in face of the USA Congress, during his trial. A war for Monica? I don't believe it. Since thousands years more or less fatal women were taken as pretext for wars having other, more concrete, economic rationales. Neither the war of Troia was leaded, by Grecians, for the beautiful eyes of the mythic Elena! But to open markets and to stole the properties of the Trojans.

First data: as the economist commentators say, we have nowadays the lowest price of the oil since 30 years, thanks to the abundance of the black gold on the market. Second: Iraq owns, alone, the potential to produce the half of the whole world oil production. Third: this enormous amount of oil is sanctioned and out of the market since eight years. If the sanctions were suddenly taken away to Iraq, this amount of crude would flow on the world markets, and we would have a further drop of the crude price. The oil lobbies of the planet, USA ones at first place, will then suffer very heavy losses.

Table 1. World Crude Oil Prices

 

1973

1975

1980

1990

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

OPEC official average sales pricea
US $ per barrel 3.39b 11.02 30.87 21.76 18.33 16.08 15.44 16.84 19.83
1996 US $ per barrelc 10.51 28.65 56.07 25.50 20.11 17.19 16.15 17.17 19.83
World average price
US $ per barrel NA NA NA 22.12 18.24 16.13 15.27 16.62 19.75
1996 US $ per barrelc NA NA NA 25.92 20.01 17.25 15.97 16.94 19.75

a F.o.b. prices set by the OPEC governments for direct sales and, in most cases, for the producing company buy-back oil. Weighted by the volume of production.

b Posted prices.

c Nominal price deflated by the US GDP price deflator.

The above can also explain the tepid behaviour that the rest of the Arabian countries held vs. this war. Probably nobody feels sympathy for Saddam Hussein, but we must consider that the Governments of the Arabian Countries knows perfectly which is their interest, and the interest of all the oil lobbies. The air raids will have the only effect to further make wicked the Iraqi dictator, and to strengthen his power. Consequently, Saddam will surely commit other acts which will irritate UNO and USA, the sanctions will be renewed, and the Iraqi oil will remain out of the market (at least until the present juncture will be passed).

Sources surely not suspect to feel sympathy for the Iraqi regime (the CIA) say that: (i) the USA war actions are aimed more to ruin the Iraqi industrial plants than to strike hypothetical military settlements (ii) the Iraq was systematically prevented to enhance its productive capability of oil, both by sanctions and by direct intimidation to the companies in charge to recover and/or to modernise the extractive plants. The oil industry of the south Iraq was drastically decimated by the Gulf War, with a drop of the productive capability from 2.25 millions of b/d (barrels/day) to 75.000 b/d in 1991.

Before 1990 Iraq was just beginning to recover the damages of the previous Iran-Iraq war. Thus, since much time, the Iraqi productive capability doesn't develop itself at its maximum, and one of the potentially richest populations of the planet is reduced to beg for charity. The above to remark once again, if we still need proofs, which tremendous and lasting damages can be made by the mix of ignorance and pride, on one side, and the cunning of who is able to exploit this mix, on the other side. Mafious and dictatorial powers of any kinds can extend their survival over any reasonableness, when such components are present.

Economic Card (Sources: Il Sole 24 Ore, web site of CIA):

Besides the (modest) incomes coming from the contraband of oil with Iran and other neighbouring countries, the incomes of the dictatorship comes from the application of the UNO oil-for-food resolution, that, from November 1996, allows Baghdad to cash 2.6 billions US$ each sic months (doubled last year to 5.2 billions). By this money the regime sustained levels of mere survival for 23 millions people but also, according to many accusations issued by USA and UK, the last efforts of clandestine rearming. Iraq is, substantially, a country re-plunged into the gloomiest underdevelopment:

  •  
  • The medium per head income is more or less 300 US$ / year,
  • The hope of life if fallen to 62 years,
  • The rate of infantile mortality is 101%, one of the worst in the world.

All the above while the Country literally floats on the second oil reserve of the world.

The comprehensive cost (including material damages, war expenses and war recovers due to Kuwait) can be esteemed in 250-300 billions US$.

IRAQ holds assessed oil reserves for 112 billions of barrels. According to estimates of the Oil Minister, Amer Rasheed, endorsed by John E. Fletcher, vice-president of the Canadian company Ranger Oil, which is contributing to the complex task of restructuring the Iraqi oil industry -- and, with clenched teeth, by the USA Energy Department itself -- other 215 billions of barrels of probable resources should be added.

The assessed reserves of gas amount to more than 3100 billions of m3. A considerable part of these resources remains completely to be exploited (and more precisely esteemed), since the long war vicissitudes paralysed the research and prospecting activities.

USA: the policemen of the Planet? At the most bodyguards.

Seen under the above light, the operation named "Fox in the desert" appears thus quite another thing from the police operation that all the media present us, according to the most in fashion cliché', naming USA the planet's sheriff, and UK the vice-sheriff. It is, indeed, a commercial war, aimed to conserve a market barrier, erected time ago around the maximum oil producer of the world. Be it clears, and on this I will come back later: Saddam is and remains a criminal and genocide, butcher of ethnic minorities and starver of his people. But even more disturbing appears then the story, to who likes to remember it, of the friendship between Iraq and USA, before the invasion of Kuwait (not so different from the "friendships" held by USA with dictators of any latitude, like Pinochet). Even too easy, then like nowadays, to drive in a trap the small chief of Baghdad, pushing him to make false steps, in order to exclude him from the world market. Please see how many reached goals, by means of one only war effort:

  1. To half the global amount of crude oil on the planet market.
  2. To get new commitments for the war industry (of which USA remains market leader).
  3. To keep indefinitely open a kind of military show-room, where USA keep on showing (to everyone was going to forget it) who is ruling on this planet, and who are the masters of the "free" market.
  4. As soon as some European government raises its voice, to have the pretext to adopt useful protectionist measures and strategic mini-embargoes.

Police? Power of the order? No. The Earth Police, if any, would arrest Saddam Hussein and would bring him in face of a Court, to answer of his crimes. Where did you ever see a police, even the most reactionary, to bombard a town instead of arresting a delinquent living in it? No, they can say anything about policemen, but not that they don't risk their own life each day, for little money, among the people. This operation was, instead, leaded in the most complete detachment from the people, using missiles and bombers. USA didn't send their soldiers among the people, to play "the Americans", presenting chocolate and cigarettes, to support a resistance and a revolt against the dictator. More cowardly, they presented only bombs and missiles to the Baghdad people. We heard about the results of the so-called "surgical bombs": burnt children, operated without anaesthesia, stroked hospitals and schools, thousands of dead and injuries. How could now the Iraqi people not see the West as a tyrant even more ferocious than their dictator? How many years will occur for soothe the hates raised by this new terrible violence and a dialogue can start? The ones really thinking that bombs and missiles are efficacious in the police operations is completely out of road: a Civilisation calling itself human, advanced and globalized should punish the offenders, not the innocents.

Instead of make a choice of civility the American Administration preferred once again to keep a very much lower profile:

No, USA don't deserve the name of "Earth's Policemen", at the most bodyguards of the most powerful mafias of the planet.

The oil: richness, ecological menace and protectionism

A legal initiative against Saddam Hussein would surely raise strong consensus in Iraqi land as in the rest of the planet; it would surely open a process of democracy and development in Iraq and would notably enhance the hopes of Humanity, to pursue a development more right and civil. Such a process would re-put in the game the Iraqi oil, in a context of better availability of the resulting economic benefits for the people and for the enterprises of that Country. This would ignite, maybe even there, that process of social transformation, globalisation and growth of the number and quality of the enterprises, able to lead to a growth of the economy and of the possibilities of work and welfare for all the Terrestrials. How is it still possible, in fact, to be afraid of the birth of a competitor, and not to see the potentialities of a new emerging market? Only a shabby soul can allow so much short-sightedness. Only the philosophy closed and egoist of the barriers, of the armour-plated fortresses, of the closed frontiers and of the bombers, in a Planet claimed to be globalized.

The other face of this war shows clearly the connection and the objective convergence of economic interests, of so-called ideals and regressive spurs, in this end of millennium. On one side we have the power lobbies that, as we wrote in recent articles, firmly hold in their hands the so-called free market. On another side we have social-democratic, ex-communist and ecologist currents, which look favourably on such "government of the economy", and accept to share the power with it. The economic power finds maybe more efficient and capable these leftist bureaucrats instead of the various right wing currents, rogue, astute or arrogant, often emphatic, not able to get and keep the popular consensus or even only to make politic initiative, out of the history and anyway not credible with their profession of "liberalism" while to yesterday (and even to date, out of the TV talk-shows) they were authoritarian and iper-statist.

Recently we saw the establishment of the carbon-tax (see our previous editorial), the stated goal of which is to keep high, "for the sake of the environment", the price of the fuels, vs. an oil price continuously decreasing. The ecologist gentlemen think, evidently, that, if the fuel price would decrease, we will have fun, in a kind of revival of the sixties. If ever the Iraqi oil would comeback on the market, what should they invent, to keep in check us bad boys? A carbon-tax multiplied by 10, to keep the price absurdly high as it is, in Italy and Europe? Maybe even the greenest among the ecologist gurus will then realise that this would sound not so popular and will lead to a (let's hope) vertical loss of consensus. It is much more convenient then, even for the ecologist lobby, that the Iraqi oil remains closed where it is, behind the wall of the sanctions, for at least other ten years. Here we also owe to underline the pernicious effect that a sanction will have on the market, if kept for many years. The sanctions will end to encapsulate a part of goods, that become no more commerciable and out of the market: a kind of cyst in the body of the globalized economy. The illness evolves, up to a situation in which the break of the capsule is seen with terror, and thus opposed by any means by the rest of the producers of that kind of goods; because they will suffer an enormous damage from a sudden enter of a new competitor, absent to date. This situation, where the "cyst" was not immediately cut, and free outlet was not given to the generated economic tensions, could become a menace well worse than the one aired as a bogey by Tony Blair, surely able to ignite other and never soothed tensions of the Arab region.

At this point it is also understandable why the European governments -- belonging to the statist left converted to that vague and surrealistic doctrine called new-liberalism, with strong green veins -- made a very mild opposition, to the decision of the so-called "World Olive Three" (remember the meeting, in September 1998, among Prodi, Clinton e Blair), to give a blow to UNO and start the "Fox in the Desert" operation. It is now clear, even through these vicissitudes, what is the plan of the social-liberalist and green currents: to go in perfect harmony with the strong and monopolistic powers, owners of the planetary economy, arriving even to give a hand in the defence of the market barriers erected against possible competitors, old and new. Such powers don't split hairs. Their philosophy is pragmatic, and old as the world: until when you are useful to me I'll keep you, when you will no more be useful to me I will use you as an example, as public enemy or dead man walking (as is the case of Saddam, or Pinochet).

In favour of a choice of global development

But we don't support all this. We wish that Saddam -- like Pinochet, Pol Pot and all the other butchers of human flesh of our time -- will be taken as soon as possible in front of a Court and will pay for their crimes. We support Casson, Borrelli, and all the brave magistrates which fight to imprison the mafiouses and the criminal of this planet. But we don't support that the Iraqi People, the Kurd People, the Palestinian People and all the other ill-threaten ethnic groups in that unhappy and very rich region that was the first cradle of Humanity, keep on being deprived of their rights, to use the natural resources of their ground to pursue their welfare and development. The development, of those people as the other co-planetaries people, will not keep on basing forever on the oil. Since long time, in our naivety (that we don't want never to abandon) we wait for one of the Oil Lords (one would be enough, to pull the others in cascade) to make us, some Christmas, a nice surprise: instead of bombers, to guard his obsolete market. He will make us find under the Three, a massive investment for the construction of a solar plant in orbit, for instance. And that Oil Lord becomes a supplier of energy services, assuring, at least, the development of a plurality of energy sources.

The oil, anyway, can still give a substantial hand to Humanity, to go over the challenges that we must face. Instead of a misfortune (as the greens seem to perceive it) we still see a richness in the oil, that came in extremis (and maybe in a hopeless frame of increasing alarmism about the decline of the resources of this planet), but still deserving to be exploited. In the USA, for instance, the price of the fuel is the lowest of the post-industrial world. Surely this factor had, and has, a first place role in keeping USA in a position of industrial and space world leadership. If it is true, and I'm sure of it, that the critical step for humanity, to go over the current development crisis, is to win the earthly gravitational well, to start building orbiting infrastructures, the abundance of oil and the consequent lowering of the fuel prices can help, and should not be seen as a misfortune! Furthermore, the economy in general can get big benefits from a saving on the cost of fuels, and the saved money can be invested in the space enterprise!

The claimed planetary political leadership showed once again its backwardness, its thought poverty and its absolute lack, not only of ideals, but even of social and economic acumen: they still indulge in the feudal conviction that the brute force, the closure and the arrogance govern better than the help and the friendship. It is still convinced that it will keep its richness only at the price of the poverty and the submission of others. It still believes that is better to spend 500 millions US$ to decimate a people instead of spend the same money to build, for instance, Space Universities and schools in all the Countries of the Earth. It should not be too difficult to express an alternative to such leadership, that is bakwarded, cowardly, socially advanced only by words, in realty more reactionary than the declared conservatives! It is only the matter to come round the idea and to start.

Therefore come on, terrestrial small entrepreneurs, technicians, scientists, co-planetaries, and everyone who take care of the future of our children: it is the moment to co-ordinate, to invest, to start working for our future! Nobody will never present the future to us, and in any case a small encouragement (e.g. a new emerging economy ;) will only make well.

Adriano Autino

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