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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Operation Iraqi Liberation

On the left, we joke about "Operation Iraqi Liberation" - O-I-L. But, if you remember, it was no joke, it was reality, not just in the real world but even in name (here's a White House press briefing from March 24, 2003 if you doubt my word).

But since then, discussion of the relationship of oil to the invasion and occupation of Iraq is mostly the province of leftists and the odd enlightened liberal like Dennis Kucinich. So how surprised the readers of the San Jose Mercury News must have been to read this op-ed by labor reporter David Bacon in this morning's paper, headlined "Iraqi unions fight to keep oil out of corporate hands." Iraqi unions? Who knew?

Certainly not the readers of the corporate media. The article's nexus is the appearance next Sunday of two Iraqi union leaders at a meeting in San Jose. So I did a search for "Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions." Despite the centrality of oil to Iraq (remember Paul Wolfowitz talking about how Iraq would "finance its own reconstruction" with oil money), there is exactly one article that Google could find mentioning the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions in the corporate media - an article about Kucinich in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Outside of that, nothing.

I'll let you read the article for yourself, but here are a few excerpts:

The Bush administration calls the Iraq occupation an exercise in democracy building. Yet from the beginning, many of the Iraqis who want democracy most are treated as its enemies - Iraq's unions.
Together with other unions in railroads, hotels, ports, schools and factories, they've gone on strike, held elections, won wage increases, and made democracy a living reality. Yet the Bush administration, and the Baghdad government it controls, has outlawed collective bargaining, impounded union funds and turned its back (or worse) on a wave of assassinations of Iraqi union leaders.

President Bush doesn't believe what he preaches. He says he wants democracy, yet he will not accept the one political demand that unites Iraqis above all others: They want the country's oil (and its electrical power stations, ports and other key facilities) to remain in public hands.

The fact that Iraqi unions are the strongest voice demanding this makes them anathema. Selling the oil off to large corporations is far more important to the Bush administration than a paper commitment to the democratic process.
On Democracy Now! this morning, Antonia Juhasz (author of "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time"), who coincidentally is also speaking in the Bay Area next week (and New York City today), covers some of the same territory (audio and video online, transcript not yet online as I write this).

And I remind readers that the Democrats are some of those insisting the most loudly that Iraq agree to the proposed oil law as a condition for ending the occupation.

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