Privately Exploiting Iraq

All across Iraq there are scores of people with-out basic services. There are people who have no electricity or water, people who do not have access to hospitals, and people liv-ing in towns and communities without ef-fective policing. Appalling numbers of ordinary citi-zens: teachers, business owners, elderly men and women, and children among them, have been killed as a direct result of our military intervention. And thousands more have died as a result of the anarchy that has resulted. Some estimates peg this figure at 600,000, this is equivalent to every man, woman and child in the state of Vermont. And the numbers are growing. It is the responsibility of America to bear the burden of Iraq. It is our nation that has produced the challenges that the Iraqi people now face, and is our responsibility to address those challenges and to expend whatever resources we have to do so. And we have no right whatsoever to profit off of our incursion. Yet we continue to concern ourselves with just that. The CIA’s online Factbook entry on Iraq tells us that, between 2002 and 2005, oil production has actually increased an estimated 63,000 barrels per day. It is no trifling matter to drill oil. There are thousands of miles of pipeline to lay and maintain, refineries to staff and moni-tor, and thousands more associated person-nel to pay. Doing all of this in a war zone only ramps up costs and difficulties. Just keep-ing the infrastructure secure costs millions of dollars in personnel and equipment. And even these measures are not fool-proof, when attacks on pipelines and refineries are successful, even more is lost in missing revenues and repair costs. In other words tremendous resources, which could otherwise be spent for the good of the Iraqi people, are being expend-ed to drain the lifeblood of Iraq from its soils. Money which could be spent build-ing schools and hospitals, paving roads, or creating the necessary building blocks of a viable democracy, is instead spent on ex-tracting natural resources. But that’s not the end of it. A U.backed bill working its way through the Iraqi par-liament would give Exxon, Shell, and B.P. 30 year contracts to drill, and give them 75% of the profits earned until drilling costs are recouped. This is highly unusual in the Middle East, where there is almost no private oil drilling, and many take this as a sign that the companies involved, as well as the United States itself, are exploiting a coun-try that has little leverage and is desperate to ramp up production in order to fund a struggling and fledgling government