"It's Not A Fight For Humanity, It's A Fight For Oil"
By Darryl Mason
Heath Ledger, like the million other Australians who marched against the War On Iraq, was right, as Paul Bignell details in the UK Independent (excerpts) :
Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.Rupert 'Always Wrong On Iraq' Murdoch knew all about the deal making on Iraq's oil future, and could barely keep his trap shut, boasting a month before the war :
Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change.
The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq "post regime change". Its minutes state: "Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity."
The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq's reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.
Lady Symons, 59, later took up an advisory post with a UK merchant bank that cashed in on post-war Iraq reconstruction contracts.
"The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be US$20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country."
A bit later, after publicly giving his full and solid backing to the war, Rupert Murdoch explained why, in his deluded old man fantasy world, the War On Iraq was likely to fuel economic recovery :
"We're keeping our heads down, managing the businesses, keeping our profits up. Who knows what the future holds? I have a pretty optimistic medium and long-term view but things are going to be pretty sticky until we get Iraq behind us. But once it's behind us, the whole world will benefit from cheaper oil which will be a bigger stimulus than anything else..."People actually believed that. They really, really did.
At least, until the truth about Australia's ongoing involvement in the War On Iraq became a little clearer in 2007 :
Amusingly, it was Rupert Murdoch's own Australian media empire that spread this bit of truth far and wide. At least they did for a few hours, until Don't Make Rupert Angry censorship survival instinct kicked in and they tried to make their own headlines disappear and went delete crazy on one of the biggest stories of the past decade.
From The Orstrahyun, July 6, 2007 :
The phone calls from John Howard's office to the head office of Rupert Murdoch's News Limited in Sydney yesterday were less than pleasant.
The News.com.au website, the main portal for Murdoch's network of Australian newspaper websites, reaching some more than 1.5 million Australian readers per day, ran a number of headlines claiming John Howard had said that oil was now a key reason to stay in Iraq. Some of the headlines said the Iraq War was a war for oil. Just like all those protesters back in early 2003 claimed it would be.
By the time Howard moved to deny he said anything such thing, it was too late. The story was out, columns and articles had been written and sent to the printers for today's news racks, and there was no going back.
John Howard's office knew there was little point trying to get Fairfax newspapers to retract their stories, in print or online. Howard Admits War For Iraq's Oil was the story many journos for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age had been waiting more than four years to write.
But Howard knew the Murdoch media were likely to play ball. If not in print, then at least online, where news.com.au now reaches more Australians than the same company's newspapers do, in print.
But even until the early afternoon today, almost 24 hours later, some of the Murdoch websites were still carrying 'Howard Says Iraq War For Oil' headlines and stories, even though the main news.com.au site had rewritten headlines and stories, inside its own archive, and published the following correction....oh sorry, clarification :
An earlier version of this story from the Australian Associated Press incorrectly reported the Prime Minister as saying oil was a reason for Australia's continued military presence in Iraq.He said "energy", but as we all know, "energy" is "oil" when it comes to the Middle East, unless Howard is thinking about cutting natural gas deals with Iran sometime soon.
The phone calls from Howard's office to News Limited HQ clearly worked.
News.com.au chose to blame Australian Associated Press for supplying the wire news story that claimed Howard had admitted to a war for oil in Iraq.
Here's the pre-furious phone calls from Howard's office Uncorrected Version as it appeared online yesterday :
And here's the spiffy new Corrected Version :
Note that the sub headlines now put the words relating to 'Iraq War For Oil' squarely in the mouth of defence minister Brendan Nelson, when it was also Howard who publicly talked of needing to "secure" energy resources in Iraq and the Middle East.
The sub headlines were also edited to remove the dead giveaway line 'Another Reason Is To Uphold Prestige Of US, UK', to be replaced with the far more Freedom And Democracy Agenda-friendly 'We'll Stay Until Iraq No Longer Needs Us, Says PM'.
But perhaps more importantly, note that on both the 'corrected' and 'uncorrected' stories above, the byline clearly reads "By Staff Writers And Wires".
AAP may have supplied a story that claimed Howard said Australia had an interest in staying in Iraq to secure future oil supplies, which is, of course, exactly what he said, but unless the byline is a total lie, more than one journo rewrote or added to the text and headline and sub headlines before it went online. Hence "by staff writers and wires".
But to Howard's utter horror, that correction, sorry clarification, only made it onto the story on the main news.com.au site.
The calls for clarifications to the story must not have gotten through to other city newspaper editors and staff in Murdoch's network. Unless, of course, they chose to ignore the clarifications because the story didn't need any clarifying at all. It was true.
And if that was the case, then good on them for not following directions from head office, via the Howard office.
The below pages were all still online through the Murdoch online stable at 10-11am today, and later.
From the Adelaide Advertiser :
Australia's biggest selling daily newspaper, The Herald Sun, ran the following editorial today, hitting the presses before it could be pulled, and staying online, unchanged, well into the late morning :
The Tasmania Mercury still had this up on their site at midday :
And the Murdoch site in Perth still had this posted after midday today :
Even though the story of Howard's Iraq Oil Slick was running up hundreds of comments an hour on websites around Australia, any mention of it was gone from the news.com.au front page by 10.30am this morning.
Over at Murdoch's flagship 'The Australian' newspaper website, at least three key columnists weighed in supporting Howard's claim that he didn't say what he said, and it really didn't matter even if the prime minister and the defence minister did say what they said. Which they did.
Just to jog your memory, here's a reminder of what John Howard had to say about claims that the, then, still coming War On Iraq was about something other than WMDs and deposing Saddam Hussein back in February, 2003 :
And here's what the Murdoch media's favourite political whipping post, Greens Leader Bob Brown had to say in that same week, in 2003 :
"No criticism is more outrageous than the claim that US behaviour is driven by a wish to take control of Iraq's oil reserves."
This is not Australia's war. This is an oil war. This is the US recognising that, as the economic empire of the age, it needs oil to maintain its pre-eminence.Back then, 76 percent of Australians were opposed to a War On Iraq.
By midday today, the Australia In Iraq For The Oil scandal was making international news, in a big way.
And the hundreds of headlines from around the world were immune to Howard's attempt to reframe his own comments, and those of his defence minister. They went in hard, using Howard as the first leader of a Coalition Of The Drilling country to finally admit the truth about a war so blackened and poisoned with so many lies :
Herald Sun, Melbourne : PM's war for oil
Daily Times, Pakistan - Oil key motive for Iraq involvement: Australia
The Scotsman, Scotland - Oil keeps Australia in IraqThe Independent, UK : Australian troops 'in Iraq because of oil'
RTE, Ireland : Mideast oil priority for Australia
The BBC : Australians 'are in Iraq for oil'Turkish Press, Middle East : Oil a factor in Australian role in Iraq: minister
Voice Of America : Australia Says Oil Key Motive for Involvement in Iraq
The Guardian, UK : Oil a factor in Iraq conflict, says Australian MPXinhau, China : PM: Australian troops to stay in Iraq for oil
Aljazeera : Australia admits Iraq war about oilForbes : Australia says securing oil supply means no Iraq withdrawal
Press TV, Iran : Aussies in Iraq for Oil
Gulf News, United Arab Emirates : Oil 'key factor for Australia's role in Iraq'Stratfor (key military intel site) : Australia: Oil A Reason For Iraq Presence
Alsumaria, Iraq : Oil supply is an essential factorZee Tv, India : Mid-east oil crucial to our future: Australian PM
Alalalam News Network, Iran : Australia: Oil Means no Iraq Pullout
Some of those same news sites ran Howard's attempts to deny that he said what he said, but his retraction was given mostly backwater coverage. Those international editors knew, like some editors of Murdoch's Australian newspapers knew, that Howard was trying to scam them.
Like he tried to scam the entire nation back in late 2002 when he said he hadn't decided whether or not he would send troops to Iraq, when they were already in the Gulf. And in early March, 2003, when Howard said he hadn't decided yet whether or not commit troops to the coming war, when some of those already deployed troops had already written letters to their children in case they died during the fighting.
Read The Full July 6, 2007 Post Here
So when are we going to have an investigation into the real reasons why Australia became involved in the War On Iraq?
When are we going to have an investigation into Howard government foreign minister Alexander Downer's meetings with some of the world's biggest oil companies in 2002-2004?
When are we going to have an investigation into the false intelligence circulated so enthusiastically by the Howard government and the Murdoch media back in 2002 and early 2003?
Taxpayers who were swindled of almost $20 billion over eight years for the War On Iraq deserve the truth.
The thousands of Australian soldiers who served in Iraq, the hundreds physically & psychologically wounded, those who committed suicide after they got back, the families ruined, deserve nothing less than the truth.