Author questions Iraq war motives
Author and activist Antonia Juhasz spoke at UH on Monday regarding a proposed law concerning Iraqi oil and signed copies of the new paperback edition of her 2006 book, The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.
Known as the Iraqi Oil Law, the pending legislation in the Iraqi Council of Representatives would open the country’s state-owned oil reserves to foreign investment and ownership.
"That private foreign investment, in the minds of the Bush admin, has far more to do with U.S. oil corporations having access to Iraq’s oil under the ground than it does to just generally privatize it," Juhasz said.
Juhasz traced the historical relationship among oil corporations, the U.S. government and Iraq, making a case to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Juhasz came to the University because several students from the Graduate School of Social Work course Global Justice: Patterns, Perspectives and Strategies had asked her. The class had invited her for a project for the class taught by visiting professor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams and assistant professor C. Brene Brown.
"The guidelines for the project were to educate 75 people – faculty, staff and students, and then to get one fourth of them to commit to taking action in one form or another," social work graduate student Quiana Whitesell said.
Political science senior Muna Javaid attended the lecture after it was announced in the class Islam, the State and Society in the Middle East.
"We always hear about this war being about oil, but I never really knew the specifics," Javaid said. "I learned about the oil law, which I didn’t know was an issue."
Juhasz said Iraq has 80 known and mapped oil fields and only 17 have begun development.
"Those 17 fields are the ones that would remain in Iraqi hands, and under state control," she said. "Everything else would be open to private foreign investment."
The Iraqi hydrocarbons law would establish production-sharing agreements – a type of contract that involves control of production and lengthier time periods than technical service agreements. Most oil-rich nations agree to these types of contracts, Juhasz said.
"What Iraq needs is technical service," she said. "What the production sharing agreement says and what the most recent form of the (Iraq oil law) says is that there doesn’t need to be any transfer of technology, there doesn’t need to be any hiring of Iraqis – not a penny needs to be invested in Iraq – all of the money can leave and, as I said, 30-year long contracts."
The event attracted more than 50 students, faculty, staff and some off-campus visitors. Juhasz’s allegation that the Iraq war was largely motivated by oil was not challenged in the question and answer session.
"You don’t want to oversimplify things," Tyler Priest, director of Global Studies in the Bauer College of Business, said. "But you also want to question that if Iraq had no oil, would we be there?"
Priest said although the market effects of privatized Iraqi oil reserves might not be in the best interests of some companies within the U.S. oil industry, the war is tied to the issue of peak oil and competition for the finite resource.
"In a world where production is declining and prices are soaring, it’s going to pay to own those reserves," Priest said.