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Minneapolis Forum Looks at: Oil, Blood, and U.S. Intervention

By Alan Dale

Minneapolis, MN – The Anti-War Committee and the Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC) co-sponsored a May forum entitled, “It's the Oil Stupid: U.S. Intervention in Iraq and Colombia.”

In recent months, the U.S. government has proposed spending $1.6 billion dollars in military aid to the government of Colombia, a dramatic increase for U.S. involvement in the Colombian civil war. In addition, the U.S. is the main enforcer of economic sanctions against Iraq and has carried out bombing campaigns against targets on a near-daily basis. The struggle over oil is a key part of U.S. policy toward both countries.

Kristin Dooley of IPAC opened the meeting by saying, “Oil is the result of thousands of years of pressure on underground organic material, crushing it and heating it into a liquid form; essentially, dinosaur goo.”

“Oil has been found on every continent of the globe. Oil and its products are components in the production of 60% of the world's manufactured products, either as a component of the product or as a lubricant or fuel for the machines that make the product... There is a huge profit to be made from the control of oil production and distribution,” Dooley said.

Meredith Aby of the Anti-War Committee said that the U.S. imports 260,000 barrels of oil a day from Colombia. Colombia has become one of the major oil producers in the Western Hemisphere and is the seventh largest exporter of oil to the U.S. Experts believe Colombia has vast deposits of oil and natural gas that have yet to be have discovered.

Aby said, “Guerrilla forces in Colombia have taken a stance against foreign oil companies in Colombia and the use of Colombian natural resources for the profit of Colombian and international elites... The U.S. government is afraid that rebel groups like the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) will promote a more equitable society that will not serve the interests of the big U.S. oil companies.”

In December 1999, Lisa Gizzi was a participant in a delegation to Iraq, formerly one of the world's major producers of oil. Gizzi said that she saw a country ravaged by 10 years of war and economic sanctions.

“The U.S. and its allies systematically bombed the infrastructure of Iraq knowing that it could not be repaired without outside help. The imposition of economic sanctions have prevented that help,” Gizzi said.

Gizzi reported that there has been a huge increase in the number of preventable diseases over the last ten years in Iraq, due mainly to the destruction of the water purification system. UNICEF has estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 people have died monthly in Iraq as a result of the sanctions.

“Iraq wanted to be an independent player in the world oil market. The U.S. decided to use whatever means necessary to prevent that from happening,” said Peter Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law. He said this is part of a massive, international “chess game” going on to determine the nature of the post-Soviet world.

Erlinder said, “With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is no military counter-balance to U.S. imperialism.” Therefore, the U.S. needs to control the oil supplies around the world in order to prevent any possible competitor nation from arising in this new era.

“It is up to the people of the U.S. to organize in our own interests and in solidarity with the people of Iraq and Colombia to end U.S. intervention,” said one event participant.

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