More than two months after the fall of Baghdad, diplomats in Paris, Berlin, and Moscow are reportedly fearing a loss of credibility as evidence of American and British expropriation of Iraqi oil fields has yet to be unearthed. Indeed, not a single oil well has yet been discovered that has been secreted away by Exxon-Mobil, BP Amoco, or any other American or British oil conglomerate.
“This has the potential of being very embarrassing. After telling the world that this war was all about America seizing Iraqi oil, our credibility is on the line,” stated one unnamed high-ranking Belgian official. Le Monde, however, ran an editorial, which stated its confidence that evidence of American oil plundering would eventually surface. “Everyone in Europe knows that this war was about irresponsible American cowboys trying to steal oil to enable them to keep up their pretensions as a world economic and military power,” wrote Le Monde. “And if inspectors had been given more time, they would have eventually discovered evidence of the Americans stealing Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil fields from the first Gulf War.”
So far, however, the closest the European war critics have come to finding a “smoking gun” is a U.S. awarded contract to a subsidiary of Halliburton to rebuild portions of Iraq’s destroyed and dilapidated oil infrastructure. But as the Iraqi military was only able to destroy a small number of wells during its retreat, the value of this contract is less than originally reported. And analysts on the ground state that as Halliburton is highly qualified to do this work it is not necessarily evidence of thievery, but could just be an example of the “dual use” of a qualified company contracted to do legitimate work.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin responded to critics saying, “The important thing is not whether we discover Iraqi oil wells secreted off by the Americans. The important thing to realize is that France is a great country.”
In the United States, anti-war members of Congress are also feeling some pressure. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), however, remains staunch in his view that “…this was an imperialistic war to enrich the friends of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. This is so obvious that I don’t need facts to support this position.”
Anti-war congressional Democrats are also starting to feel some heat as it now appears that the cost of the war was far less than what they had claimed it would be. An anonymous member of the Bush administration, quoted in the New York Times as indicating that the administration may push for congressional investigations into whether cost estimates were “hyped” or “cooked” by anti-war Democrats has drawn ire from Senator Tom Daschle. “This would be just another example of the Bush administration politicizing foreign policy,” fumed the Democratic Senate leader. “I’m just sick of all this partisanship.”
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) when asked to comment on the charge only shook her head and muttered, “I am still in shock that Bill lied to me about that woman.”
In a related matter, Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) is asking for a congressional investigation into whether the United States actually defeated the Taliban government in Afghanistan. In remarks to the National Association of Muslim Women Business Executives for Choice, Senator Murray stated, “Does the Bush administration really think that we believe we just waltzed in to Afghanistan and took down the Taliban when the Russians couldn’t win in that country? You know, we aren’t liked around the world. And as I said before, Osama bin Laden is really popular in places like Afghanistan because of all the humanitarian work he does building schools, health clinics, and day care centers. We don’t do things like that. So the reports that we supposedly defeated such a popular government in Afghanistan are, to me, rather suspicious.”
This investigation, however, is likely to be stymied by Republicans. Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts chided his obstructionist Republican colleagues saying, “If the Republican Party was really the Party of ‘inclusion’ that it claims, it wouldn’t be so dismissive of people who just happen to be wrong about everything all of the time. And no one,” the Democratic presidential candidate added, “is working harder to win these people’s support than am I.”