End Evil

The US and Oil

In October 2002 the RSUI (Royal United Services Institute, which considers itself a "professional forum for the study of defence and international security.") made the seemingly surprising statement that greater security for Great Britain and the United States will be achieved not by military control of the Persian Gulf, but by increasing energy efficiency and fuel economy at home.

Oil well in flames

This is not a moral position, and does not relate to the human rights abuses commonly attached to the attempts of rich western economies to control oil supplies in developing countries (such as Burma and Nigeria). It is in fact a direct contradiction to the "oil equals security" assumption common to US policy for the last few decades.

In the last 25 years, reserves of oil have increased by almost 70 percent. Even without the discovery of new deposits, the present supply would easily last 40 years. However, both corporations and countries such as the US have political and economic reasons for over and underestimating the reserves available.

Much of the US´s addiction to locating and controlling oil reserves around the world can be traced back to the embargo of oil shipments by Saudi Arabia on October 20th 1973, in protest at US support of Israel. This prompted the US secretary of defence to claim "there is no more serious threat to the long-term security of the United States and to its allies than that which stems from the growing deficiency of secure and assured energy resources."

This paranoia was not helped by the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. In fact, President Carter went on record stating that any "attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States, which would justify a defence of National Interest by "any means necessary, including military force."

Shortly after this statement, the United States Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) was created. When Ronald Reagan became President, the RDJTF numbered at least 100,000 Army troops, 50,000 Marines, and additional Air Force and Navy personnel.

Oil well burning

The US also began courting other suppliers. For example,

Somalia

nearly 2/3rd of Somalia´s territory was given to oil concessionaries Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. This was overturned when the Pro US President was overthrown in 1991.

Caspian Sea

In 1997 the Trans-Balkan pipeline was proposed by Halliburton and BP. 2 years later a convenient US base was constructed in the area. It is the largest base to be constructed by the US since the Vietnam war.

Azerbaijan

In 2001 $4.4million of military aid was granted to Azerbaijan to "counter threats such as terrorism, to promote peace and stability in the Caucasus, and to develop trade and transport corridors.". This of course translated only to the protection of the oil pipelines.

Afghanistan

Using the argument that the Taliban were hiding Al-Qiada terrorists, the US managed to secure the oil pipeline that they had long wanted. A similar argument could be proposed to defend an invasion of the UK, to rid the world of the threat of the IRA, but for some reason this argument is never raised.

Columbia

US involvement in the civil war was clearly related to the ability of that country to export oil to the US. In 2002 $98million was provided by President Bush to protect Occidental Petroleum´s pipeline.

Georgia

President Bush offered to provide $64 million and 180 special forces advisors noting that "servicemen trained under the U.S. Train and Equip program might help provide security for the [Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan] pipeline."

US trooper on tank with flames behind

Iraq

The sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussien´s Iraq allowed the US to control Iraq´s portion of the world´s oil resources, an estimated 11 percent of the world´s known reserves. When that wasn´t enough, the human rights abuses of the Iraqi leader and the threat of weapons that no one can prove exists were used to justify an invasion. It is hardly surprising that the first reconstruction works in Iraq were exclusively to their oil production, and contracts were not awarded based on competitive tendering, but given exclusively to US companies.

With the addition of western technology it is estimated that Iraq´s production could rise as high as 8 million barrels a day by 2010. By controlling this supply, the US weakens the ability of Saudia Arabia to manipulate prices, and nullify the any threat by the Saudi´s to refuse to sell their oil to the West.

Whatever they claim, there is no doubt that "National Security" for Bush involves controlling resources seen as necessary to the US. No only does the US use more oil that any other country, they apply less taxation to domestic oil than any other country, and seem to be addicted to fuel guzzling cars. The refusal of the US Government to be involved in the Kyoto treaty or apply for real pollution controls highlights this problem.


Return to Top