U.S. uses wars and sanctions to jack up oil profits

Saudi oil refinery burns after Yemeni drone strikes, Sept. 14.

U.S. fracking interests want war with Iran and Venezuela. They are a powerful voice in the Trump regime. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt speak for them directly. 

When he was on Capitol Hill, Pompeo was called the “Congressman from Koch.” The Koch family has made billions off the fracking trade. 

Wall Street’s cash cow

Wall Street bankers control hundreds of billions of Saudi petrodollars. JPMorganChase is the lead banker for the planned stock sale of Saudi Aramco, the world’s most profitable company. 

Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs also have their hands in the Saudi pie. These bankers want Iran’s state-owned oil off the world market. But they fear an all-out war that could endanger their Saudi cash cow. 

Four major Western oil companies — ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell — control Saudi Aramco’s exports. They’ve also made major investments in the U.S. fracking industry. 

The U.S. military-industrial complex depends on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the other five monarchies on the Arabian Peninsula. At a Sept. 16 joint press conference with Prince Salman of Bahrain, President Donald Trump bragged that Saudi Arabia had spent $400 billion on U.S. arms “in the last few years.” 

Bahrain’s Al Khalifa dynasty, which is propped up by Saudi troops, is also a client. Lockheed Martin keeps the F16 in production to fill its orders. Bahrain is also home base for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

These sometimes-competing interests drive U.S. sanctions and war threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Before the 1979 revolution, the Shah of Iran kept tens of billions of dollars in Chase Manhattan Bank (now JPMorganChase). He was also the U.S. arms industry’s biggest overseas paying customer. He owed his throne to a 1953 coup organized by the CIA. 

Yemen’s blood on U.S. hands

On Sept. 14, Yemeni freedom fighters blew up two Saudi Aramco production facilities. The U.S.-armed Saudi tyranny has bombed and starved the people of Yemen for five years. It has created what the United Nations calls “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.” 

The U.N. expects the death toll from the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen to surpass 235,000 by the end of this year. That includes over 100,000 children dead from disease and starvation.

The Yemeni people have been resisting, fighting back. But the Trump regime, without evidence, blamed the strikes on Iran. 

In April, Congress passed a bill to limit (mildly) direct U.S. involvement in the murder of Yemen’s children. Trump vetoed it. Now he rages against what he calls Iran’s ”sponsorship of terror.”

U.S. attacks global energy supply

Pompeo called the Yemeni strike on Saudi Aramco “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” That’s a lie. The U.S. has been waging war against the world’s energy supply for over 30 years. 

What else could you call the 13 years of bombing and blockade that killed over half a million Iraqi children between 1990 and 2003? (In 1995, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, told CBS, “We think the price was worth it.”) Or the 2003 invasion of Iraq that caused the death of perhaps 2.4 million more? 

How about the 2011 bombing of Libya that brought chaos and poverty to that oil-rich and once prosperous African land? Or the campaign of sanctions and sabotage that has already killed over 40,000 Venezuelans?

“Economic sanctions will kill tens of thousands of innocent Iranians,” professor Muhammad Sahimi wrote on LobeLog on July 30. 

Then there’s the 16-year invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which sits astride potential pipeline routes from Central Asia to South Asia and the Indian Ocean. 

The bloody U.S.-Saudi-funded proxy war in Syria is now in its eighth year. It has prevented the construction of a pipeline to bring Iran’s oil and gas to the Mediterranean. 

There are nine countries in the world with over 40 billion barrels in proven oil reserves. Five of them — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Russia and Venezuela — have been sanctioned, bombed or invaded by the U.S. These five countries hold 614 billion barrels between them. Russia and Iran also have huge natural gas reserves.

Three others — the Saudi Kingdom, Kuwait and United Arab EmIrates — pay tribute, protection money, to the U.S. ruling class. U.S. companies own the lion’s share of Canada’s known reserves, the world’s third largest. 

Rise of fracking

What did all this death and suffering accomplish? The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq drove the price of oil from $30 a barrel to $147 a barrel in four years. Gas, coal and ethanol followed suit. Oil company profits rose nearly 300 percent. Oil majors like Exxon, Chevron and BP had their most profitable years ever. So did Saudi Aramco. 

It also opened huge new markets for capital investment. Not in the countries bombed and sanctioned, but in the vast deposits of shale rock found across North America, in Canadian tar sands and mountaintop removal projects in Appalachia. It enabled the fracking boom that has made the U.S. the world’s top oil and gas producer. 

Another new market was in the waters of Israeli-occupied Palestine, where Texas fracking firm Noble Energy struck natural gas in 2010. U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for Noble. 

A July study by the University of Colorado found children born near fracking fields have a 40 to 70 percent higher risk of congenital heart defects. The poisoning of Iraq’s children with depleted uranium made the poisoning of children in North America profitable. 

‘U.S. energy dominance’

Fracking has caused methane spikes in the atmosphere and artificial earthquakes in the western U.S. and Canada. It may cause a financial earthquake as well. 

The boom has ended, and prices are falling below the cost of production. “Could Fracking Debt Set Off Big Financial Tremors?” asked the online journal of the Wharton School of Business on Sept. 21. 

The Trump regime’s oft-stated dream of “U.S. energy dominance” depends on war, sanctions and environmental destruction. Will it launch yet another war to sustain it? 

When the Iraq war pushed fuel prices sky-high, Bolivarian Venezuela provided free oil to poor and oppressed communities in the U.S. and around the world. Now, U.S. sanctions have made that impossible. “Without Venezuela’s Oil, Haiti Struggles to Keep Lights On,” the Associated Press reported on May 16. “War With Iran Could Send Oil to $250 a Barrel,” OilPrice.Com wrote on May 20. 

In his Sept. 25 address to the United Nations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced U.S. sanctions as “international piracy” and “economic terrorism.” He invited other countries in the region to join with Iran in a security coalition to guarantee the free flow of oil in the Straits of Hormuz. 

But “Iran will never negotiate with an enemy that seeks to make Iran surrender with the weapon of poverty,” he said. “The security of our region will be provided when U.S. troops pull out.”

The Iranian president is right! No more blood for fracked oil! No more wars for monopoly profits! End the murderous sanctions! Bring all U.S. troops home right now! 

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