Monday, March 28, 2011

Essay on Iraq

Essay on Iraq

What influence has oil and politics has on Iraq?
Iraq is an example of the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Iraq looks like a rundown state, which it is, but it is sitting on a gold mine. Iraq is apart and a huge player of the world oil industry with its history of power, national rivalry and military force.

For more than a 100 years, major powers have battled to control this enormous source of wealth and strategic power. Iraq’s oil is very plentiful; reserves in 2002 were listed at 112.5 billion barrels about 11% of the world total (Paul, 1). Iraq is the second largest producer of oil coming second to Saudi Arabia. Iraq produces 2.5 million barrels of oil a day and exporting about 2 million of these barrels (Baker, 1). Iraq’s oil is especially attractive to the big international oil companies because of three factors: high quality/high value product, huge supplies and it has exceptionally low production costs yielding a high barrel profit (Paul, 2).


Oil has been at the heart of all discussions pertaining to Iraq. It seems that oil is very influential in Iraq only because it is the one essential thing that many major international oil company headquarters in the US and the UK can gain something out of. I honestly don’t believe that oil is truly influential to Iraq as a whole, but maybe to an elite group of people. It seems to me that oil is more of an asset and more beneficial to other countries than it is to the actual people of Iraq. On the contrary it seems like oil should be influential to Iraq because it is it’s greatest export, the oil proceeds should be sufficient to cover basic maintenance cost for the country’s oil industry but yet Iraq still has a very high percent of poverty.

In Iraq I believe that it is difficult to separate oil and politics. I think that oil causes the politics and problems that surround it. The situation is quite simple, Iraq has what everyone wants and this seems extremely feasible to many nations. As rising world demand depletes reserves in most world regions over the next ten to fifteen years, Iraq’s oil will gain increasing importance in global energy supplies (Burns, 1). According to the industry experts, “There is not an oil company in the world that doesn’t have its eye on Iraq (Burns, 1). Many believe that the war on Iraq was based on something other than freeing the Iraqi people and defending terrorism. I definitely agree with this argument, I think that terrorism was a factor but freeing the Iraqi people was not really a priority of President Bush. One criticism leveled at the US led war in Iraq has been that it is less about freeing the Iraqi people than about “liberating” Iraqi’s oil resources and bringing them under US control (Baker, 1). I believe that oil definitely was an aspect of the war. I am a critic of the war because there are many countries around the world that are potential terrorists threats yet only an oil rich Iraq was the option of war. There are many nations fighting for control of Iraq’s oil, rather than fighting about the poverty that still exists in Iraq. On one side is the US which says the coalition of nations now prosecuting the war should have control and on the other side are Iraq’s traditional oil partners led by the European Union and Russia who are saying the United Nations must have the lead role (Baker, 2). Anyway you want to look at it a three letter word plays a huge part in Iraq and it contributes to a lot of the politics of this state.

Iraq has gone through a lot in the past year. From being the main spotlight on every news channel, to the most scrutinized on other news channels. Looking towards the future of Iraq, one can only help but see the past, which has definitely been a roller coaster, and it doesn’t look like the future will be much different. Oil has been at the center of discussion and still continues to be the reason for a lot of the debate. Despite numerous attempts Iraq can ‘t quite shake the many actions of the world. Hopefully one day Iraq will be able to prosper without the controversy of war, oil and it’s leader.

Why oil revenue has not solved the major challenges of Iraq?
Oil is one of the major exports of Iraq. It has vast potential oil wealth and holds the worlds second largest known oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, but there are still major challenges that face Iraq: Poverty.

With Iraq being rich in oil, one would think that there would be no reason for Iraqi people to be suffering from poverty. This is exactly what seems to be happening; poverty is definitely alive and very much prevalent today. Twelve years of UN sanctions, three years of war in two decades and a paralyzed economy left some 4.6 million people desperately poor despite the monthly food rations offered to all Iraqi’s under the UN oil-for-food programs (Hyland, 1). I believe that sanctions are one of the reasons why Iraqi people are dealing with poverty. There are many sanctions that have been put on Iraq. I think that Iraq should be allowed to export as much oil as it can to finance needed goods under the UN oil-for-food program but there are sanctions that don’t allow this. There are many proposals included in easing some sanctions such as allowing foreign oil companies and others to invest in such Iraqi exports as fertilizer, super, urea, dates, nuts and agriculture in general (Leopold, 1).

Another reason why oil revenue has not solved the major challenges of Iraq is because Iraqi people aren’t benefiting. Among the countries twenty-two million people, a favored few have access to the most extravagant luxuries. Others suffer in a society where vast majorities of people have been reduced to poverty by two decades of war and sanctions (Hyland, 2). Granted, oil has been and is continuing to be a very prosperous field but only for Hussein and his constituents.

My opinion is simply this, I don’t think that it matters that Iraq is second in oil production if their people aren’t prospering from this wealth. All evidence indicates that the presence of oil in a developing country makes life worse, not better for the people who live there particularly the poorest people (Alexander, 1). Some argue that oil and the oil economy are all but irrelevant to the world’s poorest people as they struggle to live their lives (Alexander, 2). I totally agree with this argument even though I haven’t personally been poor, I know what it feels like to go without. These people aren’t worried about oil and the nations oil revenues, their main concern is eating, and how they are going to feed their children, this is their main concern and these concerns aren’t being dealt with. Many of these people do not own cars, they often have no access to electricity and their fuel comes from animal dung or dwindling supplies of wood (Alexander, 2). Just because Iraq produces a lot of oil doesn’t mean that there situations will improve. There have been case studies from oil producing countries, which show that unless a dramatically different approach to using oil revenues is adopted, the situation will decline. For example in Angola where oil revenues have fuelled a thirty year civil war, Sudan a country still gripped by a civil war that has been fuelled and part financed by oil, and Kazakhstan, an emerging economy with massive oil revenues but shocking poverty.

Oil can be a double edge sword. On one hand it can be a very prosperous resource that the nation can benefit from, but on the other hand it can be a necessary evil that tears a nation apart. Wherever it lies oil will always be a conflict in Iraq. Hopefully the day will come when the Iraqi government starts protecting its people and doing the job that it is supposed to be doing regardless of high oil revenue or not.

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