June 11, 2007

Thieves and Murderers for the Corporate State

Those thieves and murderers would be the governing class of the United States and the military that it continues to fund, the military that pursues its criminal occupation and destruction of Iraq through day after endless day. Even if we should reduce the number of combat troops in Iraq over the next few years, we will maintain a presence of tens of thousands of military personnel for decades to come. We are not leaving. Almost no one among our ruling elites wants us to leave.

It is a measure of the contemptible dishonesty of our governing elites and of the similar dishonesty, coupled with an overwhelming triviality, of their enthusiastic enablers, our national media, that the story of the theft of Iraqi oil for Western oil companies goes largely unnoticed and almost entirely ignored. So, as just one of the latest examples, you may be completely unaware of these developments:
The Bush administration has no love for unions anywhere, but in Iraq it has a special reason for hating them. They are the main opposition to the occupation's economic agenda, and the biggest obstacle to that agenda's centerpiece - the privatization of Iraq's oil. At the same time, unions have become the only force in Iraq trying to maintain at least a survival living standard for the millions of Iraqis who still have to go to work every day, in the middle of the war.

This week, Iraqi anger over starvation incomes and oil ripoffs boiled over. On Monday, June 4, the biggest and strongest of the Iraqi unions, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, launched a limited strike to underline its call for keeping oil in public hands, and to force the government to live up to its economic promises. Workers on the pipelines carrying oil from the rigs in the south to Baghdad's big refinery stopped work. It was a very limited job action, which still allowed the Iraqi economy to function.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded by calling out the army and surrounding the strikers at Sheiba, near Basra. Then he issued arrest warrants for the union's leaders. On Wednesday, June 6, the union postponed the strike until June 11. Labor unrest could not only resume at that point, but could easily escalate into shutdowns on the rigs themselves, or even the cutoff of oil exports. That would shut down the income stream that keeps the Maliki regime in power in Baghdad.

Some of the oil workers' demands reflect the desperate situation of workers under the occupation. ...

But one demand overshadows even these basic needs - renegotiation of the oil law that would turn the industry itself over to foreign corporations. And it is this demand that has brought out even the US fighter jets, which have circled and buzzed over the strikers' demonstrations. In Iraq, the hostile maneuvering of military aircraft is not an idle threat to the people below. This standoff reflects a long history of actions in Iraq, by both the Iraqi government and the US occupation administration, to suppress union activity.


President Bush says he wants democracy, yet he will not accept the one political demand that unites Iraqis above all others. They want the country's oil (and its electrical power stations, ports and other key facilities) to remain in public hands.

The fact that Iraqi unions are the strongest voice demanding this makes them anathema. Selling the oil off to large corporations is far more important to the Bush administration than a paper commitment to the democratic process.


The Bush administration won't leave Iraq in part because that economic agenda is still insecure. Under Washington's guidance, the Iraqi government wrote a new oil law in secret. The Iraq study commission, headed by oilman James Baker, called it the key to ending the occupation.

That law is touted in the US press as ensuring an equitable division of oil wealth. Iraqi unions say it will ensure that foreign corporations control future exploration and development, in one of the world's largest reserves.

Hassan Juma'a Awad, president of the IFOU, wrote a letter to the US Congress on May 13. "Everyone knows the oil law doesn't serve the Iraqi people," he warned. The union was banned from the secret negotiations. According to Juma'a, the result "serves Bush, his supporters and foreign companies at the expense of the Iraqi people." The union has threatened to strike if the law is implemented.
The latest Iraq funding bill includes certain benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet -- and one of those benchmarks is passage of the Iraqi oil law.

This law.

This law.

Opposition to that law -- which will place control of most of Iraq's oil in Western hands -- is not a priority for anyone in government, save for a few dedicated mavericks like Dennis Kucinich, who wrote a long letter to his Democratic colleagues about the law, to no effect whatsoever.

But frankly, why would anyone expect the members of the governing class to oppose this law? They are all dedicated, enthusiastic servants of the rapacious corporate state, a state which requires plunder, exploitation and even murder for its continued existence. The corporate state ensures their ongoing power and influence, and it makes possible their lives of immense comfort.

What's the destruction of a country that never threatened us, or the murder of well over half a million innocent Iraqis, or the theft of Iraq's most critical resource compared to power and wealth? Why, nothing. Nothing at all.

If you had thought otherwise, you must have assumed that members of our governing class have consciences, or a minimal sense of decency. Except for a handful of politicians and government functionaries, you assumed incorrectly.

You made a very serious, if understandable and foolishly generous, error. Well, at least you didn't murder or torture anyone, or destroy an entire country, or steal its most precious resource, or sanction those heinous crimes. You obviously have no future at all in government service.