So in a break from reading the delightful ethnographies of the players in the Israel Lobby littering the comment section in Mondoweiss, I started reading Grant Smith’s homework assignment book, Spy Trade, which asserts that the Israel Lobby and American slavish adherence to Israeli policies is undermining American rule of law and our Proud Traditions. Enough of this. The Lobby pursues Likudnik policies, but the policies that are carried out are in the main imperial policies.
They are class war, best captured by a Gini coefficient rising to third-world levels during the time of strongest support for Israel, from 1967-2001. Keep on trying to convince imperial managers that support for Israel is against their interests. They don’t seem to agree. Zionism shouldn’t be opposed because it’s harming the empire. It should be opposed because it harms Palestinians, while the Lobby gives good cover for imperial policies. Greg Palast explained all of this a long time ago.
Two and a half years and $202 billion into the war in Iraq, the United States has at least one significant new asset to show for it: effective membership, through our control of Iraq’s energy policy, in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Arab-dominated oil cartel.
Just what to do with this proxy power has been, almost since President Bush’s first inaugural, the cause of a pitched battle between neoconservatives at the Pentagon, on the one hand, and the State Department and the oil industry, on the other. At issue is whether Iraq will remain a member in good standing of OPEC, upholding production limits and thereby high prices, or a mutinous spoiler that could topple the Arab oligopoly.
According to insiders and to documents obtained from the State Department, the neocons, once in command, are now in full retreat. Iraq’s system of oil production, after a year of failed free-market experimentation, is being re-created almost entirely on the lines originally laid out by Saddam Hussein.
Under the quiet direction of U.S. oil company executives working with the State Department, the Iraqis have discarded the neocon vision of a laissez faire, privatized oil operation in favor of one shackled to quotas set by OPEC, which have been key to the 148% rise in oil prices since the beginning of 2002. This rise is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy 1.5% of its GDP, or a third of its total growth during the period.
Walla is Palast arguing that analyzing the “U.S. economy” doesn’t help us understand the world very much??
In plotting the destruction of OPEC, the neocons failed to predict the virulent resistance of insurgent forces: the U.S. oil industry itself. From the outset of the planning for war, U.S. oil executives had thrown in their lot with the pragmatists at the State Department and the National Security Council. Within weeks of the first inaugural, prominent Iraqi expatriates-many with ties to U.S. industry-were invited to secret discussions directed by Pamela Quanrud, an NSC economics expert now employed at State.
“It quickly became an oil group,” one participant, Falah Aljibury, told me. Aljibury, an adviser to Amerada Hess’s oil trading arm and to investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, who once served as a back channel between the United States and Iraq during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, cut ties to the Hussein regime following the invasion of Kuwait.
And then suggesting that oil industry executives actually know how to run their companies? That’s too complicated. Let’s just stick to talking about Douglas Feith’s bar mitzvah.