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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/story.jsp?story=448039 September 30, 2003 A Lesson in Obfuscation Don't Mention Oil or Ask About the Victims By ROBERT FISK The Independent "The right thing ... a magnificent job ... heroes ... pride". So off Tony went again yesterday on Breakfast With Frost, spinning and spinning about Iraq. I wonder what he'd think of the city morgue downtown from here when they bring the gunshot victims in every morning. Or down in the Basra area where the British rule and where, in the past few weeks, 38 corpses have been found, hands and feet tied, each neatly executed with a shot through the back of the neck. Baath party officials, we're told. Killed, quite possibly, by the Shia Badr Brigade. Yup, things are getting better and better in "New Iraq". And as for those weapons of mass destruction? "We know perfectly well he had these weapons, he had these programmes." But is there anyone who doesn't see through this obfuscation? For when Tony says: "We know perfectly well he had those weapons", he is, of course, referring to the chemical weapons Saddam had more than 10 years ago and which have not existed for years. The "programmes", which we still haven't discovered, are what Tony hopes the Iraq Survey Group will come up with when they admit in a few days' time that there weren't any weapons of mass destruction. No mention of course that when Saddam had these terrible things, the British and American government were happily doing business with Saddam. Why not talk about weapons of mass deception? Then we have my favourite line. "We were getting rid of one of the most terrible, repressive regimes in the world's history." Well, I've seen the mass graves and I've met the torture victims and I've been to Halabja and I was denouncing Saddam's wickedness when the Foreign Office were telling a former editor of mine that I was being too harsh on Saddam. But as for one of the most terrible, repressive regimes in the "world's history ..." Well, we'll just forget the Roman Empire with its system of mass slavery and crucifixion and we'll pass on Ghengis Khan and all the Goths, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, the Inquisition, the anti-semitic Tsars, Mussolini's Fascist Italy, Stalin's Soviet Union and that little man with the moustache who caused a wee problem between 1939 and 1945. I'm afraid that even by Saddam's demented values, he doesn't come close to the latter. But in the wheel of historical fortune in which our Tony lives, it doesn't matter a damn. Actually, I rather prefer Thomas Friedman's depiction in The New York Times of Saddam as a cross between Don Corleone and Donald Duck. But you can't bang your fist on your heart and clang your armour for such a creature. And how are the victors really faring? Well in Baghdad today, there are more roads blocked by the occupation authorities than there were under Saddam. There's a grey concrete wall along the Tigris river bank three miles in length and 20 feet high to protect the occupiers and another one of two miles to protect the so-called Interim Council and there are walls around the Baghdad Hotel where the CIA lads stay and there are soldiers on Humvees on every road pointing rifles at the Iraqis they came to liberate and there is a ruthless resistance movement increasing in size by the day. The Americans are keen to have some "rules of engagement" for their occupation soldiers and they've just received them - at Washington's request - from, wait for it, the Israeli Defence Force. So stand by, I suppose for yet more shooting at demonstrators and stone throwers and more brutal night raids with innocents killed. But according to Tony, it was all a jolly successful war. --------------------------------------------------- http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/story.jsp?story=448622 October 1, 2003 Oil, War and Panic Don't Tell Me America Would Have Invaded Iraq If Its Chief Export was Beetroot By ROBERT FISK The Independent Oil is slippery stuff but not as slippery as the figures now being peddled by Iraq's American occupiers. Up around Kirkuk, the authorities are keeping the sabotage figures secret--because they can't stop their pipelines to Turkey blowing up. And down in Baghdad, where the men who produce Iraq's oil production figures are beginning to look like the occupants of Plato's cave--drawing conclusions from shadows on their wall--the statistics are being cooked. Paul Bremer, the US proconsul who wears combat boots, is "sexing up" the figures to a point where even the oilmen are shaking their heads. Take Kirkuk. Only when the television cameras capture a blown pipe, flames billowing, do the occupation powers report sabotage. This they did, for example, on 18 August. But the same Turkish pipeline has been hit before and since. It was blown on 17 September and four times the following day. US patrols and helicopters move along the pipeline but, in the huge ravines and tribal areas through which it passes, long sections are indefensible. European oilmen in Baghdad realise now that Iraqi officials in the oil ministry--one of only two government institutions that the Americans defended from the looters--knew very well that the sabotage was going to occur. "They told me in June that there would be no oil exports from the north," one of them said to me this week. "They knew it was going to be sabotaged--and it had obviously been planned long before the invasion in March." Early in their occupation, the Americans took the quiet--and unwise--decision to re-hire many Baathist oil technocrats, which means that a large proportion of ministry officials are still ambivalent towards the Americans. The only oil revenues the US can get are from the south. In the middle of August, Mr Bremer gave the impression that production stood at about 1.5 million barrels a day. But the real figure at that time was 780,000 barrels and rarely does production reach a million. In the words of an oil analyst visiting Iraq, this is "an inexcusable catastrophe". When the US attacked Iraq in March, the country was producing 2.7 million barrels a day. It transpires that in the very first hours after they entered Baghdad on 9 April, American troops allowed looters into the oil ministry. By the time senior officers arrived to order them out, they had destroyed billions of dollars of irreplaceable seismic and drilling data. While the major oil companies in the US stand to cream off billions of dollars if oil production resumes in earnest, many of their executives were demanding to know from the Bush administration--long before the war--how it intended to prevent sabotage. In fact, Saddam had no plans to destroy the oil fields themselves, plenty for blowing up the export pipes. The Pentagon got it the wrong way round, racing its troops to protect the fields but ignoring the vulnerable pipelines. Anarchy is now so widespread in post-war Iraq that it is almost impossible for international investors to work there. There is no insurance for them--which is why Mr Bremer's occupation administrators have secretly decided that well over half the $20bn (lbs12bn) earmarked for Iraq will go towards security for its production infrastructure. During the war, a detailed analysis by Yahya Sadowski, a professor at the American University of Beirut, suggested that repairing wells and pipes would cost $1bn, that raising oil production to 3.5 million barrels a day would take three years and cost another $8bn investment and another $20bn for repairs to the electrical grid which powers the pumps and refineries. Bringing production up to six million barrels a day would cost a further $30bn, some say up $100bn. In other words--assuming only $8bn of the $20bn can be used on industry--the Bush overall budget of $87bn which now horrifies Congress is likely to rise towards a figure of $200bn. Ouch. Since the 1920s, only about 2,300 wells have been drilled in Iraq and those are in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. Its deserts are almost totally unexplored. Officially, Iraq contains 12 per cent of the world's oil reserves--two-thirds of the world's reserves are in just four other countries, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and the Emirates--but it could contain 20 per cent, even 25 per cent. It's possible to argue that it was Saddam's decision to switch from the dollar to the euro in November 2000 that made "regime change" so important to the US. When Iran threatened to do the same, it was added to the "axis of evil". The defence of the dollar is almost as important as oil. But the real irony lies in the nature of America's new power in Iraq. US oil deposits are increasingly depleted and by 2025, its oil imports will account for perhaps 70 per cent of total domestic demand. It needs to control the world's reserves--and don't tell me the US would have invaded Iraq if its chief export was beetroot--and it now has control of perhaps 25 per cent of world reserves. But it can't make the oil flow. The cost of making it flow could produce an economic crisis in the US. And it is this--rather than the daily killing of young American soldiers--that lies behind the Bush administration's growing panic. Washington has got its hands on the biggest treasure chest in the world--but it can't open the lid. No wonder they are cooking the books in Baghdad. __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search http://shopping.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk