EDITORIAL: Ending the war for oil

In 2002, this newspaper issued a bumper sticker that read, “No War for Oil.” Events show how “on target” we were.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil company representatives were installed as “advisers” in Iraq’s oil ministry. Apparently the Bush administration and its oil company friends thought this would give them an “in” to grab control of Iraq’s vast oil reserves.

You would think they would have cheered when, last month, Iraqi officials said they had offered Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total no-bid contracts to repair Iraq’s oil industry. But the oil giants are reportedly refusing to sign these deals unless they also get a long-term share of the profits. That’s something most oil-producing countries reject since they consider their oil a key national, public asset. So far, Iraq has declined to cave on this issue.

Bush and his oil corporation friends must be worried. Two things happen at the end of this year: the United Nations mandate for the U.S. occupation expires, and the oil industry’s best friends, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, leave office. Now Iraq’s prime minister is telling the lame-duck Bush administration that any U.S.-Iraq agreement must include a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Reps. Bill Delahunt and Rosa DeLauro wrote in the Washington Post last week:

“Everything we hear from the only elected branch of Iraq’s government — the Council of Representatives — tells us that Iraqis’ sense of sovereignty and grievances against Western domination in the past century will make a long-term U.S. presence a source of violence, not stability.” Iraqi Parliament members told Congress last month they wanted a clear timetable for withdrawal.

The outlines of how to get out are already well known.

More than a year ago, former Sen. George McGovern and diplomat/scholar William Polk presented Congress with a comprehensive “blueprint for leaving Iraq now” that would withdraw U.S. troops over six months and also help the Iraqi people achieve security and sovereignty and rebuild their country.

It’s unfortunate that Congress has been unable to compel the current administration to begin to end the occupation. The ball will be in the court of the next administration and Congress to finally and promptly end this war.