Why 10 Years in Iraq? Oil.

Jack Bedrosian

Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, admitted six years ago what appears clear in hindsight: "Of course it's about oil, we can't really deny that."On the 10-year anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Antonia Juhasz looks back on how oil drove the war. From the perspective of private oil companies, the mission was indeed accomplished: Since the U.S. invasion, Iraq's once-nationalized oil fields have become fully privatized and rest in the hands of some of the world's largest oil companies, such as Shell, Exxon and the previously Dick Cheney-run Halliburton.This shouldn't come as much surprise. According to Juhasz, major U.S. oil corporations spent more on assuring a Bush-Cheney victory in 2000 than on any election previously. Upon election, Vice President Dick Cheney took the helm of the National Energy Policy Development Group, which wasted no time calling for the countries of the Middle East "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment."According to Paul O'Neill, Bush's former Treasury Secretary, "Already by February [2001], the talk was mostly about logistics. Not the why [to invade Iraq], but the how and how quickly."From the perspective of the Iraqi people, however, the war has been utterly devastating. Currently 80 percent of the oil in Iraq is being exported to other countries, while roughly one-fourth of the Iraqi population lives in poverty, unable to meet even the most basic energy needs.Stories around the web provide a sobering overview of the state of affairs in Iraq, ten years later.Al Jazeera's Dahr Jamail reports on the Iraqi health crisis. The country has seen spikes in diseases previously unheard of in the region, thought to be the result of pollution from American munitions, many of which contain depleted uranium: Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.The Washington Post's Ernesto Londoño examines Iraq's economic and ethnic turmoil: “Iraq used to be one of the developed countries of the region,” said Wassfi al-Assi, a tribal leader in Kirkuk. “Now we’re seen as a Third World country. There are many calls for dividing Iraq, even more than during the occupation time.”

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