Colonial Capitalism

Before working at Fluor, Carroll ran operations for U.S. Shell during a period when the parent Royal Dutch Shell was under attack for its handling of protests against its operations on the Ogoni tribal lands in Nigeria. Activists were attacked by a private police force allegedly run by the company.

The second man mentioned by industry sources for a major job in Iraq is Rodney Chase, a longtime BP executive involved in major deals and deputy chairman of beverage behemoth Diageo (Smirnoff's, Bailey's, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, et al.) and supermarket superfirm Tesco (the United Kingdom's largest retailer).

Discussion of outsiders running the Iraq oil business already has ignited controversy. Issam al-Chalabi, the Iraqi oil minister from 1987 to 1990 (no relation to U.S. puppet Ahmed Chalabi), told the Platts.com news service last week, "I believe that any kind of direct rule by the Americans, whether military or civilian, will be rejected and resisted by Iraqis."

On the other hand, al-Chalabi said a UN-run operation could work. Of course, the U.S. seems intent on avoiding the UN. A recent proposal by the Heritage Foundation suggests a scheme in which the U.S. government would guide Iraq toward privatization of the oil industry.

But having captured the Iraqi oil fields, the U.S. may find that it's not so simple to market the oil because of Iraq's outstanding debts abroad. Creditors may well attempt to tie up any oil shipments in an effort to get their money back. Among them are the major oil companies, whose holdings were nationalized in the 1950s. These firms may lay claim to their former holdings, which would cause an endless legal fight. Until ownership of Iraqi oil is firmly settled, the UN's Oil for Food program is the one existing, agreed-upon arrangement for oil sales. Even Bush seems to acknowledge that. In the end, it may not be so easy to get rid of the UN.

Additional reporting by Phoebe St. John and Joanna Khenkine.
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