`Axis of evil,’ locus of oil conveniently overlap in Middle East

Sue Gray

Oil company executives are watching the current world situation with great interest. One industry expert stated, “There is not an oil company in the world that doesn’t have its eye on Iraq.”

President George W. Bush is a former petroleum executive and founder of Arbusto Energy.

Vice-President Dick Cheney led Halliburton, which develops oil wells, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was a Chevron executive.

But is Middle East oil really part of official U.S. policy? Let’s take a look.

1938: U.S. and U.K. companies discovered oil in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. Middle East resources were deemed “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history,” according to a paper by U.S. policymakers.

1945: A paper by the departments of State, Defense, and the Interior stated, “American oil operations are instruments of our foreign policy.”

1953: Iran nationalized its oil supply, ousting all foreign companies. After CIA “Operation Ajax” overthrew President Mossadegh and installed the Shah, U.S. oil companies took over half of the oil production.

1977: A congressional report on Middle East resources stated, “The most serious threats may emanate from internal changes in the gulf states.” The rise of Arab nationalism or Muslim fundamentalism would threaten American economic and worldwide political leadership.

1979: The Shah of Iran was overthrown by internal revolution and replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, who re-nationalized the oil. Time magazine noted, “The (U.S.) now seems willing to exert its power. But how can that power be refined to deal with others who might rise to follow Khomeini’s example? That may be the central problem for U.S. foreign policy throughout the 1980s.”

1980: President Jimmy Carter established the “Carter Doctrine” stating, “An attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

1991: Though the U.S. ambassador assured Saddam Hussein that the U.S. would not intervene in his “Arab border disputes,” U.S.-led forces defeated Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Halliburton won the contract to rebuild and develop Kuwait’s oil infrastructure. A permanent U.S. military base was established in Kuwait.

1997: Oil companies in Russia, China and France reached agreements with Saddam Hussein to develop Iraqi oil fields as soon as sanctions are lifted. The U.S. and U.K. have vetoed numerous proposals by other United Nations members to lift the sanctions on Iraq. Considering that the U.S. and U.K. host the world’s four largest oil companies, there may be a relationship of corporate interests to U.S. policy regarding sanctions.

1999: General Zinni of U.S. Central Command testified to Congress that the gulf region, with its huge oil reserves, is a “vital interest” of “long standing” for America, and that the U.S. “must have free access to the region’s resources.”

2002/3: The U.S. announced its intention to attack, invade and occupy Iraq, install a U.S. military dictator, and take over “responsibility” for Iraq’s oil production. France, Russia and China, having contracts with the Iraqi government to develop oil facilities, attempted to block these efforts, which would result in U.S. domination of Iraq’s resources.

Oil interests have been part of U.S. official policy for 65 years, but are Iraq’s oil fields the final goal?

With a military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. will be in position to invade Iran (another “axis of evil” country with rich oil reserves), and finally achieve the long stated agenda of its foreign policy in the Middle East: controlling the oil.


“Foreign Relations of the U.S.,” Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1945.

“Shattered Peace,” Daniel Yergin.

Policy Analysis No. 159, Cato Institute

“The Purposes of American Power,” Foreign Affairs Vol. 59 No. 2

“Man of the Year 1979,” Time Magazine

“Iraq Under Siege,” South End Press 2002,, November 2002, News No. 6

Sue Gray, a decorative painter and resident of Carbondale, is active with the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition, working to prevent military action against Iraq. She can be reached at

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