Michael Schwartz

The Battles of Baghdad


Michael Schwartz, journalist and Professor of Sociology at SUNY-Stony Brook, discusses the history of the U.S. military’s various policies for and against various religious and political factions in Iraq over the past 5 years, Dick Cheney’s oil “control” motive for the war and the necessity of American withdrawal.

MP3 here. (38:05)

Michael Schwartz is a Professor of Sociology at SUNY-Stony Brook. Schwartz has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, and on US business and government dynamics. His work has appeared at Asia Times, MotherJones.com, TomDispatch, and ZNet, and in Against the Current, Contexts, International Socialist Review, Socialist WorkerZ magazine. His books include Radical Politics and Social Structure, and The Power Structure of American Business.

7 thoughts on “Michael Schwartz”

  1. After presenting a rather useful analysis of the Iraqi sectarian war, the professor presents a typically blinkered view on the dynamics of oil. Greenspan’s half a sentence seems to trump all those policy papers by the Baker Institute — voice of Big Oil — warning against privatisation. Also, if the professor (and by extension, the Left) were right, he would first have to show that Saddam was not willing to sell his oil to the West. There is no evidence of that. He was in fact more than willing, had he not been thwarted by the sanctions.

  2. OTOH, if you buy Greg Palast’s concept, the point of the Iraq war from the oil company point of view was to take Iraq oil OFF the market – not just get it cheaper, although that is clearly part of the intent now based on the oil contracts being asked for by the oil companies.

    Also, don’t assume all the oil companies speak with one voice.

  3. Resrource hegemony is about control, not just about whether Sadaam was “willing” to do business. I think there’s something to the Mafia dynamics that decides these kinds of hegemonic invasions. You look at your puppet and say, “is this guy still with us?” You don’t ask him. You make your move based on what you think the cost is of eliminating “him”. That elimination begins to take on a life of its own. You begin to envision an anchor in the Middle East that can position you for future control in the neighborhood.

    That’s how all gangster power works. It tolerates and than steps in when it thinks it can get away with it.

  4. the key point about control of Iraqi and Middle Eastern oil, which I tried to make clear in my comments, is about controlling the spigot. Right now, American policy makers (and the oil geologists who work for them) believe the Middle East is the only region of the world with excess capacity sufficient to meet the growing demand. But they can only do this if they (over the entire region) double output, a process that would (if it can be implemented) require vast new investment and then pumping the oil very rapidly. if this were done, then the current shortage of oil could be alleviated. According to the Cheney Commission, this policy, if it were implemented, would buy about 15 years before the demand once again exceeded supply.

    The problem is that no regime in the Middle East is willing to undertake such investment, particularly since they have no interest in increasing their output at this time. All that would happen is that they would sell more oil at a lower price (the price decreases would considerably lessen the profits from the increased production). Moroever, they would exhaust their oil much more quickly. Since they have no good place to invest their current superprofits, they have no interest in increasing production, even if it would increase their profits. And if they wait, the price will continue to rise and their ultimate income is much higher.

    If the US wants to double oil production in the Middle East, they must, therefore, coerce the governments there. The invasion of Iraq, an attempt at control of Iraqi oil, was a first salvo in trying to create the leverage to increase production throughout the region.

  5. More fact-free speculation. Perhaps both of you could explain why, even with Iraq presumably under ‘control’, the puppet Iraqi government was able to renew a Saddam-era oil contract with China. And while you are at it, you could maybe also take a stab at explaining why Cheney was going around denouncing the ‘Sanction-happy’ policy of the US throughout the 90s. And last, but not least, why Saudi Arabia has been turning the spigot on and off without being invaded or occupied?

    If ‘controlling’ Iraqi oil was a geostrategic imperative, how come every known geostrategist — Brzezinski, Baker, Eagleburger, Scowcroft, Bush Sr. et al — was opposed to the chosen means? And the neocons aren’t geostrategists, or oil men. They are ideologues. Their imperative was merely to break OPEC and potential Arab leverage over US policy. Thats a neocon-Israeli interest, it has nothing to do with US geostrategy.

  6. Pingback: religious war

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