Cheney and Oil in the Middle East
"U.S. officials are considering a prolonged occupation of Iraq after their war to topple Saddam Hussein. It is likely that a U.S.-controlled Iraq will be the linchpin of a new order in the world oil industry. Indeed, a war against Iraq may well herald a major realignment of the Middle East power balance.
The Bush administration’s ties to the oil and gas industry are beyond extensive; they are pervasive. They flow, so to speak, from the top, with a chief executive who grew up steeped in the culture of Texas oil exploration and tried his hand at it himself; and a second-in-command who came to office with a multi-million dollar retirement package in hand from his post of CEO of Halliburton Oil. Once in office, the vice president developed an energy policy under the primary guidance of a cast of oil company executives whose identities he has gone to great lengths to withhold from public view. Since taking office, the president and vice president have assembled a government peopled heavily with representatives from the oil culture they came from. These include Secretary of the Army Thomas White, a former vice president of Enron, and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, former president of the oil exploration company Tom Brown, Inc., whose major stake in the company was worth $13 million by the time he took office.
...Even so, the administration’s National Energy Policy Development Group, led by Vice President Cheney, acknowledged in a May 2001 report that U.S. oil production will fall 12% over the next 20 years. As a result, U.S. dependence on imported oil—which has risen from one-third in 1985 to more than half today—is set to climb to two-thirds by 2020.
...But there is no escaping the fact that the Middle East—and specifically the Persian Gulf region—remains the world’s prime oil province, for the U.S. and for other importers. Indeed, the Cheney report confirms that “by any estimation, Middle East oil producers will remain central to world oil security.” The Middle East currently accounts for about 30% of global oil production and more than 40% of oil exports. With about 65% of the planet’s known reserves, it is the only region able to satisfy the substantial rise in world oil demand predicted by the Bush administration. The Cheney report projects that Persian Gulf producers alone will supply 54-67% of world oil exports in 2020.
...The pariah state of Iraq, however, is a key prize, with abundant, high-quality oil that can be produced at very low cost (and thus at great profit). At 112 billion barrels, its proven reserves are currently second only to Saudi Arabia’s...All in all, Iraq’s oil wealth may well rival that of Saudi Arabia...But once the facilities are rehabilitated (a lucrative job for the oil service industry, including Vice President Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton) and new fields are brought into operation, the spigots could be opened wide
...An unnamed U.S. diplomat confided to Scotland’s Sunday Herald that “a rehabilitated Iraq is the only sound long-term strategic alternative to Saudi Arabia. It’s not just a case of swapping horses in mid-stream, the impending U.S. regime change in Baghdad is a strategic necessity.”
In preface to the passage of Security Council Resolution 1441 on November 8, there were thinly veiled threats that French, Russian, and Chinese firms would be excluded from any future oil concessions in Iraq unless Paris, Moscow, and Beijing supported the Bush policy of regime change. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an exile opposition group favored by the Bush administration, said that the INC would not feel bound by any contracts signed by Saddam Hussein’s government and that “American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil” under a new regime."
What he did believe was that the war was winnable and, therefore, would make a valuable "demonstration" of U.S. power that would deter any other hostile nation from allowing itself to become a "nexus" of common purpose with the Islamic extremists who attacked New York and suburban Washington, D.C., on 9/11. The possibility of such a "nexus" was, in Cheney's view, the great threat to American security. He embraced the neo-conservatives' notion of the U.S. as liberator, bringing democratic regime change to the Mideast, as a convenient rhetorical counterweight to Jihadist propaganda. Personally, he doubted democracy even was possible in the Middle East."
See Tim Rutten's L. A. Times review (Calendar page 1, 10-11, September 24, 2008) of "Angler," Barton Gellman's book about Cheney --