Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good news

"My prediction is that we will see ourselves more and more connected to
the quantum field, not physically but through the mind. This "mind field"
is invisible and universal; it encompasses all living things; it weaves the
fabric of nature. As our prejudice in favor of solid, concrete things fades
away, certain fringe phenomena will become everyday. Healing without
touch will be legitimized, since the human body can be altered by altering
the field. Telepathy and clairvoyance will seem ordinary, since time and
distance are compressed to a single point in the field; Intuition and
epiphanies will be explained as subtle field interactions.

"The best outcome would be that wisdom will reemerge as a vital human
capacity, for there is no doubt that our spiritual forebears were deeply in
touch with the same invisible reality that still surrounds us. We have shut
out that reality in our stubborn, rigid insistence on believing our senses,
but seeing with the eyes of the soul is possible. In the end, a new
humanity is also possible once we escape the prison we have sentenced
ourselves to for far too long. The so-called sixth sense isn't a separate
sense at all, but a new opening for human evolution with unlimited

-Deepak Chopra, *Forbes* magazine

Well, that's good news! We need some of that, these days. Yesterday I got some good news, too. The proof that this war is about oil, about Imperialism, a new world order, has been amassing, and finally, a scholar from the Institute of Policy Studies, seems to have put it succinctly into a book, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time." The author, Antonia Juhasz, was one of yesterday's guests on my favorite gut-wrenching show, Democracy Now! She was very articulate, and for once, I didn't have to re-read the transcript to get the gist of the guest's train of thought. She laid out the pre-invasion plan, outlining the details of firing and shutting down Iraqi institutions so that they could be taken over - privatized - by multi-national corporations. You know all the players already. She said:

Now, there's two intimate connections between the war and the price of gas. But first, I think it’s very important for people to understand that the vertical integration of the oil industry, which has been absolutely exacerbated under the Bush administration. For example, ChevronTexaco and Unocal merging into one company, the completion of Exxon and Mobil's merger, all of these little companies merging into enormous behemoths, so that you have ExxonMobil being the company that has received the highest profits of any company in the world, over the last two years, ever in the history of the world. That is because of the vertical integration and monopoly power of these companies. That means that they control exploration, production, refining, marketing and sales.

The price of oil at the pump is about 50% the price of a barrel of oil, about 25% taxes, and then the rest is marketing and just the price determined by the company at the pump. So that means that about 18% to 20% is absolutely determined by the oil companies themselves and governed by the companies themselves. So they could reduce the price of oil and reduce their profit margin, or they could jack up the price of oil and increase their profit margin. They have chosen to do the latter.

And one of the things that has helped them do that is, first of all, the United States is receiving a tremendous amount of oil from Iraq. Oil is down in overall export and production, but not tremendously so. We were -- at prewar was 2.5 million barrels a day. We’re now at about 2 or 2.2 million barrels a day. But 50% of that, on average, is coming to the United States, and it’s being brought to the United States by Chevron and Exxon and Marathon. The myth of dramatically reduced supply has helped them create an argument to the American public, which is, you know, it’s a time of war, we’re suffering, gas prices are going to go up, everyone needs to come in and support this because this is war. Well, that's just not true. The companies are using that as a myth to help make it okay for them to receive these utterly ridiculous profits.

AMY GOODMAN: In your chapter "A Mutual Seduction," you have a quote of Ken Derr, the former C.E.O. of Chevron, 1998. I know his tenure well. It was the time in the Niger Delta that Chevron was involved with the killing of two Nigerian villagers, who were protesting yet another oil spill of Chevron and jobs not being given to the local community as they drilled for oil. But your quote here says, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas, reserves I would love Chevron to have access to.” And then you follow that by a quote of John Gibson, Chief Executive of Halliburton Energy Service Group, who says, “We hope Iraq will be the first domino and that Libya and Iran will follow. We don't like being kept out of markets, because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage.”

ANTONIA JUHASZ: I love it when they’re honest. It doesn’t happen very often. Yeah, these companies have been explicit, for decades, that they want in, particularly to Iraq. The reason is obvious. Iraq certainly has the second largest oil reserves in the world, but some geologists believe it has the largest, at least on par with Saudi Arabia. That's a tremendous pool of wealth. And not just have the companies been clear that they want access to that oil, U.S. leaders -- for example, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Donald Rumsfeld -- have all been explicit for the past 20 years that what the U.S. needs to do is gain increased access to the region's oil, and most explicitly during the ‘90s, Iraq's oil, that this is something that shouldn’t be in the hands of Saddam Hussein.

The difference, going into the current Bush administration, was that the rhetoric changed to and the reality changed to not just we need a new leader, we need a new -- a fully new political and economic structure in Iraq, and we need to be in that country to make sure that that structure gets put into place. And that is exactly what they have achieved, and now Halliburton, Chevron, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin have profited tremendously from this process already. Chevron’s -- the U.S. value of Iraqi oil, imported Iraqi oil, has increased by 86% between 2003 and 2004. Those profits have gone to Exxon, Chevron and Marathon.

She goes on to explain how, when these companies actually get into Iraq and start working, they will need security.

Chevron, Exxon, the other companies are sort of hovering on the outside. They’ve signed what are called “memoranda of understanding,” essentially free services. Chevron has been training Iraqi workers in the United States for years, mapping -- doing mappings, free services, so that they are ready, when the permanent government is in place, to sign contracts. And then, I believe, once those contracts are signed, they will get to work, but they need security. And what better security force than 150,000 American troops. And I do not think that those troops will leave, unless we all have something to do about it, until the oil companies are safely at work.

And she talks about the rebuilding effort:

The most harmful provision thus far has been the national treatment provision, which meant that the Iraqis could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and therefore, U.S. companies received preference in the reconstruction. They hired workers who weren't even from Iraq, in most cases, and utterly bungled the reconstruction.

And the most important company, in my mind, to receive blame is the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. They have received $2.8 billion to rebuild water, electricity and sewage systems, the most important systems in the life of an Iraqi. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis rebuilt these systems in three months' time. It’s been three years, and, as you said, those services are still below pre-war levels.

It sounds like a good book, but sure to keep you tossing and turning at night. You check out the transcript of the show here.

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