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Working-Class Soldiers Shed the Blood, ExxonMobil Gets the Oil

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In the fall of 2002, and most dramatically on February 15, 2003, anti-war protesters across the world carried placards reading: "No Blood for Oil!" The American punditocracy sniffed at these displays of dissent and heaped scorn on the peace demonstrators for suggesting that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would start a war so American conglomerates could steal Iraq's oil. Five-plus years later, and today we see on the front page of the New York Times: "Deals With Iraq Are Set To Bring Oil Giants Back, Rare No-Bid Contracts, A Foothold for Western Companies Seeking Future Rewards."

The article details how U.S. oil companies with close ties to the Bush administration have used the leverage of the military occupation to muscle out competitors and win no-bid contracts to exploit Iraq's vast oil reserves. "A total of 46 companies, including the leading oil companies of China, India and Russia, had memorandums of understanding with the Oil Ministry, yet were not awarded contracts." This praiseworthy piece, by Andrew E. Kramer, goes on to point out that "in a twist of corporate history for some of the world's largest companies, all four oil majors that had lost their concessions in Iraq are now back." Kramer ends the story with a quote from the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, Lee Raymond, (who recently retired with a $600 million golden parachute), saying in a fleeting fit of honesty: "There is an enormous amount of oil in Iraq. We were part of the consortium, the four companies were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country."

So there you have it.

The oil conglomerates that were tossed out when the Baathist regime nationalized Iraq's oil industry are today back in place with the help of 140,000 American soldiers and $750 billion from the American taxpayer.

But the Iraq war had nothing to do with oil, right?

All the pro-war commentators who assured us repeatedly that the Iraq war had nothing to do with the control of oil owe all of the soldiers who served in Iraq a sincere and heartfelt apology. Although the list of warmonger pundits is far too long to record here among those who should send their apologies to the troops are Christopher Hitchens, Michael Ignatieff, Michael O'Hanlon, Kenneth Pollack, Michael "Just War" Walzer, Fouad Ajami, Michael Barone, Thomas "Flat Earth" Friedman, Michael Gordon, and Judith Miller (to name just a few).

More importantly, there are 4,100 families who lost loved ones in Iraq who also deserve apologies from these warmongers who assured us that the war had nothing to do with the corporate control of oil. The widows, widowers, and orphaned children of the American dead in Iraq might appreciate some kind of acknowledgement of remorse from the war's cheerleaders.

And don't forget, you who supported this war, to drop a note to the nearly 30,000 wounded veterans too. The thousand or so blinded vets might want to hear an apology from you Mr. Ignatieff; so might the thousand or so vets who lost both their arms and both their legs. And don't forget, Mr. Ajami, to send your apology to all of the vets who will piss and shit through plastic tubes for the rest of their lives, and all the others who are paralyzed and wheelchair bound. And maybe Thomas Friedman and Michael Barone could address their notes of apology to all of the Iraq war vets who suffered disfiguring injuries. And the rest of the cheerleaders for the war can send their apologies to the hundreds of thousands of Iraq war vets who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

These war hawks also owe the peace protesters an apology. I was among the protesters in San Francisco so they should feel free to send their apologies directly to me via email or provide them in the comments section below. I think most peaceniks will be magnanimous in offering their forgiveness, except to Christopher Hitchens, whose supercilious douchebaggery is unforgivable.

I suggest everyone go out and read Michael Klare's book Blood and Oil, and watch the new superb documentary of the same title.

Can we all finally accept the facts, which the Senate Intelligence Committee and Scott McClellan most recently confirmed, that the Bush Administration lied to the American people about its true motives in attacking Iraq and that one of the major hidden objectives was the control of Iraq's oil reserves for U.S. companies intimately intertwined with Bush and Cheney and the Republican Party?

The only way the people of the United States could begin to "apologize" for the pain and suffering inflicted in their name on the Iraqi people is to hold war crimes trials, convict and punish the war's perpetrators, and pay reparations.