WW editorial: Look for the motive


A Chinese business woman sits in a Canadian jail cell, arrested at the behest of the U.S. government. It’s all about oil.

The stock market gyrates up and down on news about Saudi Arabia and OPEC. It’s all about oil.

Both environmentalists and working people tear their hair out as glaciers melt and coral reefs die. It’s all about oil.

Since opening their first well in Titusville, Pa., in 1859, the Rockefellers have built a dynasty based on oil. It has spawned world-straddling banks like Chase Manhattan and Citigroup. The Rockefellers have picked every U.S. secretary of state for a century, right up to Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon/Mobil, in 2017.

The crimes committed in the struggle for control over oil and its profits could fill a library.

The Black residents of oil-rich Tulsa, Okla., were burned out of their homes in a murderous “race riot” in 1921 by whites who wanted to grab this precious resource.

The electric trolleys in Buffalo, N.Y., that ran on cheap, clean Niagara Falls energy were mothballed in the 1940s and their tracks ripped up to make way for gas-guzzling, polluting buses and cars. And that happened all over the country.

The Indigenous peoples of the Dakotas braved bone-chilling weather and shotgun-wielding deputies in 2016-17, trying to stop an oil pipeline from polluting their rivers and land.

World wars have been fought over oil. So have hundreds of regional battles that scorched the earth and left millions dead.

Modern capitalism is built upon oil. It’s still inextricably linked to oil, and despite all the dire warnings that use of fossil fuels is destroying the planet, capitalism will do anything to get its next gush of profits.

Iran and Meng Wangzhou

Why has the U.S. government gone to the extraordinary lengths of demanding that Canada arrest and hand over Meng Wangzhou, a top executive at Huawei Technologies Co.? Because it claims she found ways to get around U.S. sanctions on Iran — which she denies.

But what gives Washington the right to impose sanctions on Iran in the first place, and then expect everyone in the world to abide by them?

Iran used to be a cash cow for U.S. oil companies and banks. In 1953, the U.S. CIA overthrew a progressive government in Iran that had nationalized the oil industry there. The CIA then installed the Shah to head a puppet regime that brought the U.S. oil billionaires back in control. They stole massive profits from Iran to enrich their already enormous fortunes.

But a militant, popular uprising in 1979 overthrew the Shah and broke U.S. control over Iran’s oil. U.S. sanctions on Iran are just another form of economic warfare against the Iranian people for refusing to accept U.S. domination.

Oil market ups and downs

The price of oil has been driving many political struggles in the world. Just a few months ago, analysts were predicting oil could go to $100 a barrel. This was welcome news to U.S. producers of shale oil, which costs about $50 a barrel to extract — much more than oil pumped from wells. But the analysts were wrong. Oil prices began sinking, and just a week ago the same analysts were talking about prices going as low as $50 per barrel — which could mean little or no profits for U.S. shale oil companies.

Oil prices reflect both supply and demand. The more oil produced, the lower the price. The higher the demand, the higher the price. But demand has been slowing. Until last week, supply was high. Both these factors contributed to lower prices. The stock market got wobbly and started to tank.

The big question was: What would Saudi Arabia do?

As head of OPEC, and one of the three largest suppliers of oil in the world, it was pressured by the U.S. to keep the price of oil high. (Trump, however, claims he wants low oil prices. It’s a demagogic move to pacify his political base.)

The U.S. media have said little about Saudi Arabia’s vicious war against the small country of Yemen that has brought a million people to the brink of starvation. But then the media suddenly got really indignant over the Saudis’ murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudis got the message. They announced that OPEC would cut its oil production. The next day the stock markets bounced back as oil prices rose.

The lesson in all this?

Look for the profit motive. All the rest is a coverup for capitalism.

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