Oil Spots All Over the Baker Report
December 8, 2006
When you examine the Baker Report closely, you find oil spots all over it.
In their opening note, James Baker and Lee Hamilton the “long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East.” You don’t need to exercise your mental faculties very much to understand that the primary interest there is oil.
A big fear the Baker Report expresses is that a regional conflict could send oil prices sky high.
Not to bother. The report starts spelling it out, right there on pages one and two.
“Iraq is vital to regional and even global stability and is critical to U.S. interests,” it says on page one. Two sentences later, the report notes that Iraq “has the world’s second-largest known oil reserves,” a fact that opponents of this war tried to surface all along.
A big fear the Baker Report expresses is that a regional conflict could send oil prices sky high. Here, from page 34, is the quote:
“If the instability in Iraq spreads to other Gulf States, a drop in oil production and exports could lead to a sharp increase in the price of oil and thus could harm the global economy.”
In a section devoted to the oil sector, the Baker Report bemoans the fact that oil production is below prewar production levels. And anywhere between 10 per cent and 25 percent of current oil production is being siphoned off by corruption, it says. (It doesn’t mention, however, that some of that revenue may be going to fuel the militias.)
The report urges Bush to announce that the United States does not seek to control Iraq’s oil, and I should live that long. But the Baker Report is hardly anti-imperialist. In fact, it makes clear that the U.S. should keep its hand in.
“The United States should encourage investment in Iraq’s oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies,” it says. And “the United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise.”
That’s right, privatize Iraq’s oil industry, and let ExxonMobil march right in.
That’s the oily solution Baker offers.