The oil industry has gone to great lengths to distance itself from any planning related to the potential post-war opening of Iraq's massive fields, now partly in U.S. and British hands. But it is becoming clear that a number of companies played significant advisory roles in military operations taking place on those fields, underscoring an unusual partnership between the military and private companies in the Iraq campaign.
BP PLC employees in Kuwait showed the Royal Engineers and other combat troops how oil fields operate before their assault on South Rumeila, along the Kuwaiti border. Houston fire-fighting firm Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. helped draw up emergency and contingency plans for securing the field, and private-sector U.S. oil executives, serving as U.S. reserve officers, ran soldiers and combat engineers through fields in West Texas in preparation for the attack.
Army engineers have been working with Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root for months, drafting a plan of action for rebuilding Iraq's oil infrastructure. The Army Corps of Engineers plans to dole out other contracts to oil-field service companies in the days and weeks ahead.
But it is now apparent that oil companies have played a greater behind-the-scenes role in military planning than previously known. For centuries, private companies and citizens have volunteered to help their governments in time of war. But Iraqi oil -- a primary focus of the Pentagon's military campaign -- has been a thorny political issue for the Bush administration, which has strong ties to the oil industry. Vice President Dick Cheney ran Halliburton until 2000, for instance, when he resigned to run for office. He has since divested his stock in the company.
Cheney divested his stock, but is even today still on the Halliburton payroll.
With the Bush administration eager to avoid accusations that it is going to war for oil -- and executives sensitive to appearing opportunistic as soldiers fight and die in Iraq -- companies have shied away from talking about their discussions with U.S. or British officials concerning Iraqi oil.
Of course Texas oil executives are sensitive about appearing opportunistic — because they are opportunistic, exchanging human lives for illegitimate claims to foreign oil. And while US soldiers fight and die in Iraq to protect oil fields while US civilians sit mesmerized by CENTCOM and FoxNews, guess who's making off with all the money — in the form of tax cuts for the wealthy, war profiteering, no-bid government contracts, and a whole raft of corporate fraud schemes that will never stop surfacing as long as we all live on this faith-based, god-forsaken planet.