JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
$4.4 Trillion Dollars on Middle East Oil Wars
I listened to John Kerry’s optimistic speech at the COP21 Paris climate talks about how the United States is allegedly stepping up to the financial challenge to help poor countries that are or will be facing life-threatening consequences from catastrophic climate change disasters with a sense cynicism.
Some might argue that it is possible that President Obama and John Kerry are trying, but their powers are limited for the reason that they owe their allegiance to the petroleum and weapon industries.
But why then would the US government spend trillions of dollars on missiles, drones, fighter jets, and an infinite supply of bombs to gain oil control in the Middle East if the White House and Congress cared about transitioning from fossil fuels?
Secondly, why has the Obama administration increased the number of dangerous, deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico from twenty-nine in 2011 to fifty-one in 2014 after BP’s 2010 world’s worst catastrophic oil spill? And why did he permit the reopening of BP’s explosive Macondo well after promising the American people that it would be sealed for good? BP’s Macondo explosion turned the Gulf’s ocean floor into a 3,000 mile toxic oil dump. When the food chain dies there’s no chance for regeneration of life. And when our oceans die, well, end of story.
Yes, the Obama administration is “canceling its plans to sell oil drilling rights” in the Arctic Sea through 2017, a rare exception that happened through public pressure to stop Shell from their Arctic Sea drilling plans. However, that may be a public relations move because Shell decided that there’s not enough oil to make the exploration expenses worthwhile.
The U.S. has spent trillions of dollars to control oil-rich nations in the Middle East. So let’s ask, how much did the US pledge in Paris to the climate fund to help poor nations? $3 billion.
Yeah, that sounds about right. The US government spends nearly $3 billion a day on new bombs to drop over the Middle East. Moreover, taxpayers currently subsidize the oil industry by as much as $4.8 billion a year.
According to The Costs of War, a study by theWatson Institute of International Affairs at Brown University:
- Over 370,000 people have died due to direct war violence, and many more indirectly
- 210,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting at the hands of all parties to the conflict
- 7.6 million — the number of war refugees and displaced persons
- The US federal price tag for the Iraq war is about 4.4 trillion dollars
- The wars have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad
- The wars did not result in inclusive, transparent, and democratic governments in Iraq or Afghanistan
How Many Bombs and at What Cost?
The US military has dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria over the last sixteen years. The more I researched the figures, the more shocked I became after combing through reliable sources that range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of bombs that have blown up cities, towns, mountain huts, caves, hospitals, and yes, they’ve even targeted news organizations, viz. Al Jazeera; you name it, and they’ve bombed it, except for oil fields and pipelines.
As reported in Alternet.org, in February 2003, the US conducted a blistering “shock and awe” campaign and, by mid-April, Iraq had been subjected to 41,000 sorties and 27,000 bombs dropped. The US air war would continue on as, year after year, U.S. planes attacked targets, killing enemy fighters and civilians alike.”
In fact, on December 7, CNN posted an article that announced that the Air Force chief of staff had announced that “The U.S. is running out of bombs to drop on ISIS.”
Think about it: That’s 9-11 repeated tens of thousands of times over and over again with no end in sight.
The Bush administration deliberately tried to blame Iraq for the 9-11 attack, and when that accusation was proven wrong, they came up with the lie that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. As early as 2004, we knew that both accusations were false. So why didn’t the US military exit Iraq? Why did they continue to bomb and torture a defenseless, innocent people that did no harm to Americans? The Iraqis were not our enemies because they did nothing wrong. So why did the US government continue to occupy Iraq?
Iraq has oil and plenty of it. The bombing continues…
The latest assessment, as reported by Truthout’s investigative journalist, Dahr Jamail, is that one million Iraqis have died between 2003-2015.
For more information on this tragic story, I highly recommend Truthout’s Dahr Jamail’s book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, And more recently, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: The Disintegration of a Nation: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible by Truthout journalists William Rivers Pitt and Dahr Jamail.
Fast-forward to the recent shock & awe US air attack at the Medical Charity Hospital / Doctors without Borders at the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. The supervisors at the hospital continued to warn the U.S. to stay clear from the hospital facility, and they provided the exact coordinates, but regardless of those warnings, the US military, under General John Campbell’s authority, made the hospital their target.
Al Jazeera reported: “There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again. When I made it out from the office, the main hospital building was engulfed in flames. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds. Twelve staff members and at least seven patients, including three children, were killed; 37 people were injured," the charity said. "This attack constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law."
Had General Campbell accidentally blown up a major oil pipeline, he probably would have been reprimanded on the spot.
Who's Profiting From Iraq's Oil Worth Hundreds of Billions of Dollars?
As Rebecca Solnit explained in a recent Guardian editorial, “The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was led by Bush the Second and Dick Cheney, politicians with deep ties to the petroleum industry. Though the United States lost that war, you might say the US oil companies won it. After years of sanctions, Iraq oil was up for grabs, and they grabbed, and profited and still profit.”
“While the US military has formally ended its occupation of Iraq,” reported Dahr Jamail for Al Jazeera, “some of the largest western oil companies, Exxon-Mobil, BP and Shell, remain.”
So while John Kerry is giving a speech on climate change, he should explain what the U.S. oil plan is for Iraq: increasing oil production up to 12 million barrels a day by 2017. We’re talking trillions of dollars in profits for a very small minority of multibillionaires.
Halliburton’s CEO David Lesar and his family travel on private jets valued at $463,329 last year. Again, how much is the US contributing to the climate fund again? $3 billion is about what the oil execs pay for their dinners, resorts and jet travel in less than a year’s time. Take a look at their luxury multimillion dollar playground in Dubai, the new Manhattan in the Middle East for the wealthiest polluters in the world. It’s perfect for them: not a tree or bird in sight, but lots of extravagant energy-consuming luxuries that release tons of carbon emissions. Now take a look at these photos showing the tragic effects that the wealthiest industrialists have had on the rest of the world.
This explains why the industrial oligarchs inside the US government want to secretly derail or squash green energy solutions that would save the earth for future generations.
A Profitable Relationship: Oil & Wars
It’s a relationship of profits: oil and wars: they both rely on each other for billions of dollars: Indeed, the oil companies profit handsomely from wars because the military is the single largest consumer of petroleum in the US at the cost of an estimated 350,000 barrels of oil a day. Who pays the $20.4 billion tab? You do: the taxpayers.
Mr. Kerry failed to explain in his speech on the $3 billion for the climate fund that the oil companies reap in a $100 billion dollars a year from pollution and wars, and the feds believe that a $100 billion dollars a year is not enough money for the billionaire industrialists. Thus, through oil subsidies, our compassionate elected officials have voted to give our hard earned tax dollars to Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobil, Shell and the top multibillion dollar oil families in this country—because after all, a $100 billion dollars a year is simply not enough money for them. They need our tax dollars as well.
In an excellent Mother Jones report, Triumph of the Drill: How Big Oil Clings to Billions of Government Giveaways, Andy Kroll explained that “over the past century, the federal government has pumped more than $470 billion into the oil and gas industry in the form of generous, never-expiring tax breaks. Taxpayers currently subsidize the oil industry by as much as $4.8 billion a year, with about half of that going to the big five oil companies—ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips—which get an average tax break of $3.34 on every barrel of domestic crude they produce.”
There are approximately 500-1,000 industrial families that own most of the world’s wealth - money that was made from polluting fossil fuels, and from wars that have contaminated our oceans, our water and forests with impunity.
“Oil fuels war and terrorists like ISIS,” wrote Rebecca Solnit. “But the climate movement can bring peace.”
Funny how our corporate reporters and warmonger politicians, senators’ Lindsey Graham and John McCain, have a hard time making that connection or figuring out the motives behind terrorist attacks. Here’s an idea: Why don’t they take a nice little hike into the barren, bombed-out rubble of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen—where they can get a postcard view at the devastating power that nearly a million U.S. bombs have done to several small countries over the course of sixteen years and then maybe the answer might dawn on them.
As for peace or ending the oil wars by shifting to clean, harmless energy—that message will fall on mute ears in the halls of congress. Bombs and oil-drilling speak far louder than saving our planet Earth.
The day our government officials refuse to take campaign money from the oil and weapon industries will be the day our earth may take a major step in being saved from mass extinction. If that day never comes—there is no hope.
Jacqueline Marcus’ new collection of poems, Summer Rains (Iris Books) is now available at Amazon.com. She is the author of Close to the Shore (Michigan State University Press), and Man Cannot Live on Oil, Alone / Time to end our dependency on oil before it ends us at Amazon/Kindle books. She taught philosophy at Cuesta College for 20 years. Marcus is the editor of ForPoetry.com and EnvironmentalPress.com.