Statement by Ralph Nader about Oil and the War Against Iraq - February 4, 2003

Ralph Johansen michele at
Tue Feb 4 16:28:13 MST 2003

Statement by Ralph Nader about Oil and the War Against Iraq
February 4, 2003
Despite well-known ties to Big Oil, Bush Administration officials have
managed to keep a straight face as they insist that the drive to war against
Iraq is motivated only by an effort to eliminate weapons of mass destruction
and establish democracy. Tomorrow we’ll see what evidence Secretary of State
Powell presents to the United Nations. It is not credible that there would
be such a strong push for war if there were no oil in Iraq. Oil is power and
this is in significant measure a struggle over that power.

The connections between the Bush administration and the oil industry are
clear and pervasive. A remarkable 41 members of the administration have ties
to the industry, and both the President and the Vice President are both
former oil executives. National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice is a former
director of Chevron. President Bush took more than $1.8 million in campaign
contributions from the oil and gas industries in the 2000 election. The Bush
people and the oil moguls do agree with one another in part because they are
one another.

With influence like that, it’s no surprise that big oil corporations like
ExxonMobil (with an annual lobbying budget of nearly $12 million) and
Halliburton (the Vice President’s former employer) have had an unprecedented
role in determining the nation’s energy policies. What we don’t yet know is
whether Vice President Cheney and members of the American Petroleum
Institute specifically discussed Iraq in the secretive meetings of the
national energy task force, since he absolutely refuses Congressional
demands to release many of the task force documents. But we do know that the
Vice President’s energy strategy casts a growing dependency on oil as an
inevitability, recommending "that the President make energy security a
priority of our trade and foreign policy."

The energy situation we have now is precarious. The United States currently
consumes 19.5 million barrels a day, or 26% of daily global oil consumption.
With just 2% of the world’s proven reserves, the U.S. imports 9.8 million
barrels a day, or more than half the oil we consume. Instead of remedying
this dangerous dependence with increased fuel efficiency standards and other
efficiency measures, the Vice President’s national energy strategy propels
the country down an even more perilous road that it says will require 17
million barrels of imports a day by 2020, lining the pockets of
multinational oil companies while polluting the environment and committing
the United States military to continued international hostilities.

The surest way for the U.S. to sustain its overwhelming dependence upon oil
is to control the sixty-seven percent of the world’s proven oil reserves
that lie below the sands of the Persian Gulf. Iraq alone has proven reserves
of 112.5 barrels, or 11% of the world’s remaining supply, with possible
reserves of almost twice that. Only Saudi Arabia has more.

U.S. oil multinationals have been banned from Iraqi oil fields for more than
a decade. While French, Russian and Chinese companies are lined up to
profitably tap into Iraq’s reserves, Bush Administration officials
incredulously claim that Iraqi officials installed by the U.S. will
independently choose who produces the oil after a war.

Plans are already being laid. The Wall Street Journal reported on January
16th that officials from the White House, State Department and Department of
Defense have been meeting informally with executives from Halliburton,
Shlumberger, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips to plan the
post-war oil bonanza.

The American people have a right to know what is being discussed in these
meetings about the oil industry's designs on this gigantic pool of petroleum
and what, if any, assurances they are being given by what is supposed to be
our government.

Clearly, there is a better means of achieving U.S. energy security. Instead
of relying on costly military ventures in unstable countries to ensure a
steady source of oil, we need a national energy security strategy that is
expeditious, self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable.

Forty percent of all U.S. petroleum demand goes to fuel the country’s cars
and light trucks. The average fuel efficiency of the nation’s passenger
vehicles is at its lowest level since 1980. We must and can reverse this
downward trend.

President Bush’s much-vaunted hydrogen-vehicle initiative will do virtually
nothing to improve the efficiency of the 17 million passenger vehicles that
will roll off the assembly lines each year between now and 2020, when some
hydrogen vehicles may be viable. This is assuming renewable energy is
available to generate the hydrogen in the first place.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, conventional technological
improvements are currently available which could boost average fuel
efficiency standards to more than 40 miles per gallon, including direct fuel
injection, variable valve control engines, high-strength lightweight
materials, and low rolling resistance tires. In addition, hybrid electric
vehicles that achieve 55 mpg are already selling in the tens of thousands in
our country. This technology is operational now. But instead of forcing
Detroit to adopt these immediately available improvements to today’s
gas-guzzling fleet, the President is promising Detroit $1.7 billion in
corporate welfare gifts to daydream about next-generation hydrogen-based
vehicles while doing virtually nothing to make improvements next year and
the years after.

Each day, more and more Americans are realizing that the perverse priorities
of the Bush/Cheney oiligarchy are driving the war against Iraq. That’s why
thousands of concerned citizens are demonstrating today at gas stations
around the country and in other parts of the world. And that’s why, as has
been reported, many retired generals, admirals and other retired officers
are arguing that this pending war diverts, distracts and is likely to
produce "blowbacks" against the safety and security of the United States,
not to mention informed internal dissent among military and intelligence
agencies in the Bush government that is now being muted.

The demand is simple: Stop this war before it starts and immediately
establish a sane national energy security strategy.

This is unprecedented. For a country that proclaims no territorial designs
and has no credible external enemy, it is without precedent that we should
be spending close to one-half of our federal budget, and growing, on the

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