Jewish World Review April 23, 2003 / 21 Nissan, 5763
NO OIL FOR BLOOD
WHY do you think France, Russia and
China sided with Saddam Hussein in the United Nations
Security Council against the invasion of Iraq? Because their
support was bought and paid for by the Iraqi dictator.
Now, in the ruins of his empire, the question is whether the
world will honor his promised bribes.
In 1997, Saddam hit on a bright idea for obstructing U.S.
efforts to interrupt his grand design for regional domination.
To get United Nations approval to lift sanctions and allow
unrestricted oil sales, he passed out oil bribes to France,
Russia and China so that they would vote his way in the
The bribes came in the form of a contingent right to
develop Iraq's major oil fields. Sitting atop the world's
second-largest reservoir of oil reserves (after Saudi
Arabia), Saddam gave companies from the three nations
contracts letting them develop the fields once the sanctions
Now the main beneficiaries of this dictatorial largesse are
demanding that the new management in Baghdad honor
these contracts made with the corrupt dictator for an evil
TotalFinaElf, France's biggest oil company, which got
contracts for two of the four fields, is fighting hard, in the
words of chief executive Thierry Desmarest, "in order to
have the best chances for participating in the reconstruction
of the country's [Iraq's] oil industry."
Marching in lockstep is Lukoil, the Russian oil company
that secured contracts to develop some of Iraq's biggest
petroleum fields. Leonid Fedun, the company's vice
chairman was quoted in The Financial Times as saying,
"From a legal point of view, those are our reserves. If
Lukoil is squeezed out, we will go to the arbitration court in
Geneva, which will then immediately freeze the reserves."
His reserves? By what act? Are the contracts passed out
by Saddam Hussein to parcel up Iraq's patrimony in return
for Security Council support for his corrupt regime truly to
be honored under international law?
The United States and the United Kingdom should
announce that these contracts are null and void, as are all
other contracts entered into by Saddam Hussein's corrupt
regime. We must start from scratch in allocating
oil-development rights and be guided by one basic
principle: Those who helped Saddam stay in power in their
craven attempt to profit from his oil should not share in the
fruits of his dethronement.
In other words, we should tell the French, Russian and
Chinese oil companies that entered into these contracts to
take a hike.
On the other hand, President Bush must take great care not
to be seen passing out spoils to his Texas oil cronies as
souvenirs of his Baghdad invasion. To reward Republican
Party stalwarts with oil goodies would demean the deaths
of the brave U.S. and U.K. troops who fell to free the
people of Iraq and to liberate the world from Saddam's
America and Britain should also make quick work of the
ridiculous position of France, Russia & Co. that they will
not co-operate in lifting U.N. sanctions against the sale of
Now that Saddam is done, there is obviously no rationale
for these sanctions. If Paris and Moscow persist in their
posturing, the United States should simply confirm the
United Nations' irrelevance by selling all the oil we want to
whomever we want - provided, of course, that the Iraqi
people benefit from the money.
In a broader sense, the United States has a chance to show
a doubting world how little money and oil mattered in our
decision to invade Iraq. By refusing to regard Iraq's oil as
patronage to be passed out to U.S. companies and,
equally, declining to honor Saddam's corrupt contracts, we
can demonstrate a degree of selflessness which will stand in
sharp contrast to the corrupt diplomacy of France and her
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Dick Morris