The Spoils of War

However, it is well-known that the majors, reeling from attacks on their environmental policies and with an invidious history of meddling in the third world, need stability to drill oil and protect the billion-dollar-plus investments in pipelines. Lucio Noto, former Exxon Mobil vice chairman, said in a recent interview, "I think in many cases [sanctions] do not achieve the intended objective. In many cases, they hurt groups of people we are not intending to hurt. I believe they take us out of the ball game and leave the playing field to other people. And I think if you look at the track record, they have been singularly ineffective."

The prospect of a black-gold rush in Iraq means the United States can exchange oil futures for support for the war. But over the long haul, the war may produce unanticipated consequences for the oil companies—and thus for their native son George W. Bush. Robert Mabro, who heads the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, a British think tank, argues there is no doubt that a new pro-American Iraqi government will initially seek to maximize the volume of production. "This output-maximization policy, particularly if pursued at a time when the market is oversupplied, could cause prices to collapse" and thus destabilize the region. "Bad seeds sowed now will inevitably produce in the end their poisonous flowers," warns Mabro.

Additional research by Gabrielle Jackson, Rebecca Winsor and Josh Saltzman.
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