Published on Thursday, October 22, 2009 by ReutersEssentially, Pickens is saying America can only get a piece of Iraq's oil if we have a gun in their face.
Pickens says US Firms 'Entitled' to Iraqi Oil
by Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON - Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq. Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to develop Iraq's vast reserves while American companies have mostly been shut out.
"They're opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world ... We're entitled to it," Pickens said of Iraq's oil. "Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars."
President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. troops in Iraq.
"We leave there with the Chinese getting the oil," Pickens said.FULL TEXT
There are a couple of problems with that calculus though.
First, even if American oil companies get oil concessions in Iraq, there is no guarantee that means they will sell it to American citizens for less, or reward us for the sacrifices of tax dollars and our troops lives that it took to get those contracts.
And while we are rightly focused on the thousands of our troops who have died, the Iraqis might be thinking more about the over one million Iraqis killed, with every other family having lost at least one member.
The other thing to note is that China and other countries were somehow able to negotiate contracts with Iraq without invading or occupying the country. Could it be that one way to negotiate is to offer more favorable terms than you competitors instead putting a gun in the face of the people you're negotiating with?
That might be hard to grasp if you are used to calling up Washington and getting the CIA or Pentagon to remove leaders who don't agree to your terms. Military action is a form of welfare for oil companies.
That certainly seemed to be the case in Iraq since as soon as Dick Cheney came into office, he formed a secretive energy task force, and the only revealing document anyone could pry out of it was a map of Iraq's oil fields divided up and a list of foreign suitors for those fields.
And if you think taking care of the oil companies also meant getting cheap gas for the rest of us, think again. BBC journalist Greg Palast was told by a top CIA oil analyst that the war was to prevent the price of oil from going down. The industry's own journal said in 2002 that once sanctions came off Saddam, he could pump too much oil and drive the price DOWN. President Bush even seemed to confirm this when he sent Russia's Putin reassurances that an Iraq War would NOT result in lower oil prices.
The other thing the awarding of contracts to other countries proves is that the oil companies are lying, and getting politicians in DC to lie for them, about Iraqis demanding unreasonable terms that make it impossible for them to drill there and make a profit. Somehow those other countries think Iraq's terms are manageable.
In reality, it is our oil companies who are making unreasonable demands on the Iraqis. After the invasion, President Bush hired an American consulting firm to write an oil law for the Iraqis that gave 88% of their oil income to big oil companies, a deal none of Iraq's oil rich neighbors wouldn't take without a gun to their head, and a provision rarely discussed in the American press, who instead focus on the ethnic division of oil income. The Bush administration pushed so hard for this law that at one point Iraq's prime minister said Bush would fire him if it wasn't passed, and while the Iraqi cabinet approved the law, the full parliament wouldn't vote for it even when the big oil companies offered them bribes of millions of dollars each.
If the war was not about oil, then US politicians would not be browbeating the Iraqis to accept American oil company terms as Joe Biden recently did--they would be twisting the arms of the oil companies to make them give Iraqis the best possible deal so it wouldn't look like oil was why we invaded and to reduce animosity toward the US in the region.
The fact that the likes of T. Boone Pickens are complaining about the Iraqi government shows that we might have done the Iraqis one favor--given them a government that actually looks out for their interests instead of politicians simply lining their own pockets. Now if we could just do ourselves the same favor.