Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
October 12, 2006
For years, there was one word that would not pass the President’s lips in regards to Iraq, and that word is oil.
No, we couldn’t possibly be in Iraq for that, Bush and his flunkies told us. The U.S. motives were so much more noble than that.
Never mind that Iraq sits upon the second largest oil reserves in the world, and that Bush and Cheney are oil guys, and that Cheney himself had maps of Iraq’s oil fields prior to the invasion, and that our invading forces took over the oil fields first, and once our troops got to Baghdad they protected only the oil ministry.
Throughout the lead-up to the war and well past the fall of Baghdad, oil was the great unmentionable.
But now Bush himself is mentioning it.
At his press conference on Wednesday, he brought up the dirty little word three times as a reason for the United States now to stay in Iraq.
“We can’t tolerate a new terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East, with large oil reserves that could be used to fund its radical ambitions, or used to inflict economic damage on the West,” he said the first time.
“Extreme elements” in Iraq “want to control oil resources,” he said at second reference.
“They’ve got the capacity to use oil as an economic weapon,” he said the third time.
This is beyond cynical.
Bush understood that oil wasn’t a sellable reason for invading Iraq, but now it’s supposed to be a selling point for staying there?
The Bush propagandists were right the first time. The American people won’t abide by another 2,745 U.S. deaths or another 20,687 U.S. injuries for oil in Iraq.
But at least now Bush admits what it’s all about.