Wednesday, January 17

"Bait and Switch": Oil, War Profiteering Behind Dems' Dumped Anti-War Mandate (Part 3)

Though suppressed by American media, British and Canadian news reports earlier this month identified the $billions of reasons Democratic leaders of the 110th Congress betrayed voters' mandate to bring home the troops in Iraq a month before officially assuming power.

After attending a Democrat caucus meeting during the final week of the lame duck GOP-controlled Congress ending 8 December--a month before the Democratic majority officially convened the 110th Congress--House Democrat Dennis Kucinich of Ohio informed Truthdig.com's Joshua Sheer of his party's plans to continue funding the war in Iraq.

In the excerpt below from Sheer and Kucinich's 6 December interview, they discuss how Democratic leaders' support for continued war funding in Iraq is tantamount to a "bait and switch," a reneging of campaign promises that swept them to power.

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Dennis Kucinich’s Showdown With the Democratic Leadership

Editor’s note: In an interview with Truthdig research editor Joshua Scheer, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) criticizes the leadership of his own party for announcing Tuesday that it would support a massive increase in spending for the Iraq war.

Truthdig: What was the upshot of [Tuesday’s] Democratic caucus meeting?

Kucinich: At this point the Democratic leadership—the speaker and the majority leader and Rahm Emanuel—are all recommending that the Democrats support the appropriation that is going to be brought forward in the spring, for the purposes of [continuing to fund] the war in Iraq.

Truthdig: Why do you think that is?

Kucinich: The leadership feels that they can bring about greater transparency [in spending], that they can bring special committees to look at what’s gone wrong with the war, and that there’s going to be improved oversight.

Truthdig: Were there dissenting opinions ... ? Do you think this will pass?

Kucinich: I think this is going to be a serious test of the Democratic Party. We were put in power because people expected a new direction in Iraq. It goes without saying that they expect greater transparency and oversight, but they also expect us to do something to bring the troops home. Now, if Congress goes ahead under Democratic leadership and votes to approve what some are now estimating as an additional $160 billion for the war in Iraq, bringing the total for the fiscal year to $230 billion, the Democratic Congress will have bought George Bush’s war. Now, who would buy a used war from this administration?

Truthdig: Weren’t the Democrats elected because of the war in Iraq?

Kucinich: The Democrats came to power because of a strong desire on the part of the voters to get out of Iraq. That’s why people voted Democratic. So now, with the Democratic leadership taking a position saying they’re going to approve the supplemental budget in the spring, this could be seen by many as a breach of faith.

....Truthdig: For me this is really disheartening, because I feel like I have been lied to, and the American people have been lied to, because the [Democratic] Party was so against extra funds for the war. It’s almost like the party has done a bait-and-switch.

Kucinich: I think there’s going to be a concern around the country that this does represent a bait-and-switch. I’m hopeful that this position will be reconsidered and that the Democrats will not vote to keep the war going. But at this point, if the Democrats go forward and support a supplemental which by some accounts is now rising to $160 billion, they’ll be providing enough money to keep the war going through the end of George Bush’s term.

Now, this is a serious moment. I believe the public is largely unaware that this is happening, and I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised to learn that less than one month since this great realignment, that Democrats leaders, who came to power because of widespread opposition to the war in Iraq, are now saying that they will vote to continue funding the war.

Follow the Money to Where the Boys Are

To counter their leaders' cynical ploy, "progressive" Democrats--Wisconsin's Russ Feingold in the Senate and Californians Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters in the House--have joined Kucinich in sponsoring legislation establishing a timeline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. But they represent a minority within a party increasingly inhabited by closeted sell-outs like Connecticut's psuedo-Dem Joseph Lieberman, who Karl Rove offered White House assistance to help win back his Senate seat as an "Independent" candidate after Ned Lamont's surprise win in the August Democratic primary.

Though publicly posturing on the war to confuse the electorate who put them in power, Democratic leaders are quietly conducting behind-the-scenes arms-twisting and deal-making among freshmen and less tenured party members to garner support needed to continue the White House's agenda in Iraq.

And just what is that agenda? Now and since the US-led invasion, it's unchecked profiteering.

Milkhouse Mouse fingered the Dems' sordid sell-out, first on January 8 ("DC Dems' 'Sell-Out' of U.S. Voters Mandated by Iraqi Petro $Billions") and again on January 16 ("Oil and War Profiteering Driving Democratic Betrayal of Anti-War Mandate").

Record windfall profits for 100,000 American contractors--27,000 who owe the U.S. Treasury billions in back taxes for their Iraq contracts--will need continued protection by taxpayer-supported U.S. troops to conduct business, campaign promises and criminal investigations be damned.

But to fully appreciate why Dick Cheney repeatedly has claimed U.S. troops will remain indefinitely in Iraq, you must read London's The Independent's January 7 story on the Iraqi parliament's impending passage of a lucrative oil deal for the American oil industry. Now in the works for over a year, the legislation will give "big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972."

So until 2037, U.S. oil companies--also afforded billions in illegal tax windfalls--need the White House to contrive another faux-crisis to justify sending grandchildren of currently deployed soldiers in Iraq to protect American pipelines and business investments from "insurgents" or the enemy de jure. But sufficient funding for their medical needs by then is unlikely. Why? The unprecedented 25% troop disability rate--more than 200,000 soldiers deployed in the "war on terrorism" since November 2001--resulting from the U.S. military's use of radioactive depleted uranium munitions already has tripled Veterans Administration cost projections for Iraq War medical care.

Thundering Silence in American Press


Though U.S. corporate news sources refuse to address any part the Dems' sell-out and windfall profits underlying White House posturing on Iraq, the UK Guardian yesterday (16 January) weighed in on the topic.

Kahil Mahdi (K.A.Mahdi@exeter.ac.uk), an Iraqi academic and senior lecturer in Middle East economics at the University of Exeter, suggests the oil deal pending in "the U.S.-controlled Iraqi" parliament will cause further violence ("Iraqis will never accept this sell-out to oil corporations"). Moreover, the deal brokered by--and mainly, for--the U.S. oil industry will include Iran as an American oil partner. Go figure.

.... Government officials, including the deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, have announced that the draft oil law is ready to be presented to the cabinet for approval. Salih was an enthusiast for the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the Kurdish militia-led administration he represents has signed illegal oil agreements that it is now seeking to legalise. Given that parliament has not been meeting regularly, it is likely that legislation will be rushed through after a deal brokered under the auspices of the US occupation.

Iraq's oil industry is in a parlous state as a result of sanctions, wars and occupation. The government, through the ministry of oil's inspector general, has issued damning reports of large-scale corruption and theft across the oil sector. Many competent senior technical officials have been sacked or demoted, and the state oil-marketing organisation has had several directors. Ministries and public organisations are increasingly operating as party fiefdoms, and private, sectarian and ethnic perspectives prevail over the national outlook. This state of affairs has negative results for all except those who are corrupt and unscrupulous, and the voracious foreign oil corporations. The official version of the draft law has not been published, but there is no doubt that it will be designed to hand most of the oil resources to foreign corporations under long-term exploration- and production-sharing agreements.

The oil law is likely to open the door to these corporations at a time when Iraq's capacity to regulate and control their activities will be highly circumscribed. It would therefore place the responsibility for protecting the country's vital national interest on the shoulders of a few vulnerable technocrats in an environment where blood and oil flow together in abundance. Common sense, fairness and Iraq's national interest dictate that this draft law must not be allowed to pass during these abnormal times, and that long-term contracts of 10, 15 or 20 years must not be signed before peace and stability return, and before Iraqis can ensure that their interests are protected....

Read Mahdi's complete Guardian commentary here.

Postscript: The Downing Street memos reveal Bush White House officials have lied to and misled the American public on their misadventure in Iraq a year before the US-led invasion in March 2003. Have Democrat leadership been enticed to join the GOP liefest? Were they enticed to the Iraq War profits orgy via discreetly hidden and illegal offshore accounts that one source (scroll down to see Aug5/6 entry) linked to the oil-soaked Bush family? Inquiring minds want to know.



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