Twin Oil Disasters: BP and Iraq
Bloody Friday in Iraq Leaves 27 Dead, over 80 Wounded

The wave of violence in Iraq on Friday, wherein guerrillas killed at least 27 and wounded dozens, underlined how fragile the country still is. In many ways, American Iraq resembles BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. In the cases both of Iraq and of Deepwater Horizon, oil men were trying to get a big reserves of petroleum that had earlier been out of their reach. Iraq’s 115 billion barrels of oil had been put off limits by sanctions pushed for in Congress by, among others, the Israel lobbies. The Deepwater Horzizon lay deep under the Gulf of Mexico, under a mile of water and 2 further miles of the earth’s crust– among the deepest oil wells in history.

In both Iraq and Deepwater Horizon, corners were cut and the people behind them tried to succeed on the cheap. Instead of nearly half a million troops in post-war Iraq, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent a little over 100,000, and they could not keep order. Instead of a whole range of safety measures on the Deepwater Horizon rig, BP made do with no relief well and skimped on a number of other key pieces of equipment.

Both Iraq and Deepwater Horizon are long-term catastrophes. Iraq has been destabilized into the foreseeable future. By the definition of the University of Michigan’s Correlates of War project headed by the late David Singer, Iraq is still in a civil war, with civilian deaths likely to range between 3000 and 4000 this year. Despite holding parliamentary elections on March 7, Iraq has been unable to form a government and there is not one in sight. There was no plan B once the Neoconservative fantasy of installing Ahmad Chalabi as a soft dictator was revealed as completely impractical. And, the US military is leaving Iraq a waste dump of toxic materials. Likewise, BP had no plan B once its rig blew up and killed 11 crewmen. Top kill, junk shot, etc., all failed. Millions of gallons of petroleum have jetted into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening it with dead zones and extensive damage to coastal marshes. The damage, as with Iraq, will last for many years.

Both the Iraq tragedy and the BP tragedy are testimonies to greed and hubris. They speak of gigantic endeavors undertaken with insufficient forethought and too few resources. They are enterprises that made a handful of ruthless men wealthy, and impoverished everyone else. In the cutting of corners for short term petty profit, in the extractive determination, in the disregard for any rule of law or prudent regulations, these two projects were both stamped with the personality of Dick Cheney (who met with energy corporations and worked tirelessly to remove them from regulatory oversight, so that he is at the matrix of both disasters).

Neither the Iraq catastrophe nor the BP calamity would have happened if we developed alternative forms of energy to replace petroleum.

Many of the attacks in Iraq on Friday took the form of reprisals by militant Sunni Arabs against what they see as collaborators, and some targeted Iraqi and US troops.

Near the Syrian border at Qa’im, gunmen killed 7 Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint. Since caretaker Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly blamed Syria for harboring Baathist Iraqi officers, the Qaim attack may well again inflame passions between Baghdad and Damascus.

In Fallujah, guerrillas fired a rocket at a US military base but it landed on three civilian houses and kill 4 persons and wounded 7. Those who want to put a US military base in Fallujah for the long term should keep in mind two words: in and coming.

In Tuz Khurmato north of Baghdad, the scene of much past violence, guerrillas set off a car bomb that killed 8 persons and wounded 69– with most of the casualties being women. The bombing may have targeted the home of Niazar Nomaroglu, a Turkmen provincial councillor.

Another target, in Salahuddin province, had been a translator for the Us military. He was killed as a collaborator by members of his own family. His plight increased the dread of many Iraqis who cooperated with US troops. There are now only 90,000, down from a peak of 160,00, and the number is headed for 50,000 this fall. As their numbers dwindle, both they and their Iraqi allies become more vulnerable.

13 Responses

  1. The irony is that the Deepwater Horizon gusher has wasted as much oil as we would have gotten from Iraq. Even if Iraq and its oil should come under our control, the net gain is zero, or close to it.

  2. “Neither the Iraq catastrophe nor the BP calamity would have happened if we developed alternative forms of energy to replace petroleum.”

    Antonia Juhasz in her book “The Tyranny of oil”:

    “From its very conception to the present day, the oil industry has been plagued with massive anticompetitive, undemocratic, socially, economically, and politically destructive practices. All the while, it has been coddled, subsidized, protected, and preserved by the U.S. government. ”

    And the author quotes senator George Hoar, in the late nineteenth century:

    “Under the declaration of independence, you cannot govern a foreign territory. You have no right at the cannon’s mouth to iimpose on an unwilling people your Declaration of independence and your constitution, and your notions of freedom and notions of what is good”

  3. Ut appears that the Atlantis oil well, also owned by BP is 7,000 feet, which is more than the 5,000 + or – feet for the Deepwater Horizon well. Many scientists are concerned about ti as well.

  4. ” …underlined how fragile the country still is,…”

    Another contributing factor to the mentioned fragility, could be Iranian interventions , up to but not limited to, tanks rolling in Iraqi Kurdestan and very busy artillery action, bombing the bejesus out of Kurdish villages, in hot pursuite of PKK!
    The sustained incursion into Iraqi Kurdestan ( still a part of Iraqi nation-sate) for the past two week, sending ‘humanitarian’ aid to Gaza, might be all part of a desperate attempt to displace internal crisis and problems to international arenas.

  5. Well said. The tragedy of hundreds of thousands lives lost, and millions of refugees, caused by greed and eliminating threats to Israel is more costly tragedy to humanity. The harm to the echo system in the later is unimaginable, and worth to be compared to Iraq, but Iraqis would have taken it any day over the lost of their children’s lives. Thank you for keeping their memories alive.

  6. I keep thinking about your Senate testimony at the beginning of the occupation. Anyone reading that, and I’m sure the Bush administration did, would have realized that the outcome of the occupation — in the South, at least — was going to favor Iran. I think Bush and company knew that going into the invasion. One of the analysts at the Center for American Progress told me back then that Cheney was actually advocating knocking Iraq down and letting someone else pick up the pieces, but Bush chose a nation-building strategy instead. So I think the chess game is more complicated than it seems. Maybe the end game will be designed to control Iraq’s oil, but I see the invasion as a gambit in a strategy designed to bring down Iran. We’re offering Southern Iraq as a pawn Iran can’t afford to take.

  7. Loss of human life resulting from associated loss of the food chain in the Gulf will dwarf the loss of life in Iraq. It might take a few years, but with ecosystems already stressed, the impact is magnified. To think, Dick Cheney did more damage by accident than he could manage purposely. A truly world class screwup.

  8. When people around the world look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and now the Gulf of Mexico, they don’t blame Iran, Brazil or Turkey.

  9. Still not the deepest well in history.

    30 seconds of Googling will show that you’re wrong. By about 17,000 feet.

  10. Dear Juan,

    I think your analogy of BP and Iraq is very correct. The way I look at it is that in both cases there were people that wanted to start a project that with conventional wisdom, following well know procedures and process, it didn’t make sense. If Donald Rumsfeld was truthful about the cost of the war, it would have never happened. If BP was truthful about potential issues, the drilling would not have taken place as it would have probably been impractical and too risky. In both cases they had to come up with a new revolutionary way of conducting the project, there by sidestepping the normal reviews and silencing any rational opposition as the opposition could have never provide a satisfactory challenge to their “revolutionary” new technologies.

  11. Does Deep Water Horizon = Chernobyl(26 April 1986)? . USSR ‘final’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan May 15, 1988- February 15, 1989. End of USSR 1990 whenever it was.

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