Thanks to War, United States Once Again
Has More Control over the Oil in Iraq

Alanna Hartzok

[This essay originally appeared in the Chambersburg, PA Public Opinion, 2 May 2003]

When I wrote my last guest essay on March 12, I was warned I might receive unpleasant phone calls if I published my phone number. I did receive calls. The two were from local World War II veterans -- ages 77 and 80 -- who called to tell me they agreed with what I had written. Both said that if they did not have to be hooked up to medical machines they would participate in our peace vigils.

Since then another war has been fought and "won."

Hasna Shallum has lost her beautiful 20-year-old daughter, Shaza, killed by a shard of shrapnel as she walked down the street. Neighbors brought Hasna's baby grand-daughter home to her, having found the infant in the arms of the fallen Shaza.

Sumaya Abed lost her three sons, ages 11, 18 and 20. She repeated over and over again as she sobbed, "My three boys are dead. What is left for me to live for? My whole life has been destroyed. I nursed them all my life and they're gone now."

Arouba Khodeir was wailing hysterically after her son Karar, age 11, was killed outside the house with his friends. "My son had his head blown off," screamed Khodeir. "Why are they hitting the people? Why are they killing the children? Why are they doing this to us?"

This past month, more than 2,000 Iraqi civilians were massacred. More than 100 of America's beautiful sons, and a few daughters, made the ultimate sacrifice. Untold thousands of beautiful Iraqi soldiers also lost their lives while fighting to defend their homeland.

Here is a brief historical perspective on what led up to the war against Iraq:

In 1917, the U.S. entered World War I on the side of Britain and France on condition that its objectives for gaining access to new sources of raw materials, particularly oil, be taken into account. In February 1919, Sir Arthur Hirtzel, a top British colonial officer, warned his associates: "It should be borne in mind that the Standard Oil Co. is very anxious to take over Iraq." At the end of the war, control of Iraqi oil was split with an equal percentage going to Britain, France, Holland and the U.S. Iraq received exactly 0% of its oil.

In 1927 the Iraqi Petroleum Co., composed of Anglo-Iranian (today British Petroleum) Shell, Mobil and Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) was set up and within a few years totally monopolized Iraqi oil production.

In the latter stages of World War II the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, dominated by big banking, oil and other big business interests, were determined to ensure the dominant position of the U.S. Britain had to accept its new role as the US's junior partner.

By the mid-1950s, Iraq was jointly controlled by the U.S. and Britain and the people lived in extreme poverty and hunger. The British maintained military airfields. Iraq was only independent in name and was ruled by a corrupt monarchy under King Faisall II and a group of feudal landowners.

On July 14, 1958, the Iraq Revolution deposed the king and his administration and took control of Iraq oil for the people of Iraq.

President Eisenhower called it "the gravest crisis since the Korean war."

A combination of factors forced U.S. leaders to accept the loss of control of Iraq.

After nationalizing its own oil, the people of Iraq used the funds to establish free medical care for all, free education up through graduate school and nearly full literacy. Women gained more human rights than anywhere else in the Arab world. Iraq was emerging as a first world nation.

Over the next three decades, the U.S. applied many tactics designed to weaken and undermine Iraq as an independent country. The U.S. applauded the suppression of the trade unions by the government of Saddam Hussein in the late 1970s.

In the 1980s, the U.S. helped to fund and arm Iraq in its war against Iran and at the same time was sending anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger revealed the real U.S. attitude about the Iran/Iraq war when he said: "I hope they kill each other."

A million people were killed and both countries were weakened.

Today, the U.S. has prevailed in its goal to once again control the oil resources of Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and no links with terrorists have been proven. The U.S. has secured the oil fields of Iraq and the Oil Ministry building in Baghdad, allowed the national museum and other centers of cultural treasures to be bombed, burned and looted, and established four permanent military bases in Iraq.

Exxon/Mobil and other U.S. corporations are following through on plans made several months ago for the "reconstruction" of Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, said this in a speech in 1933:

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. ..."