by mark karlin
If you were to draw an oily line from the first exploitation of oil in the Middle East by the British in 1901 (they were in the process of converting their then world dominating naval fleet from coal to oil and were in desperate need of it) to the overthrow of the secular democratic leader in Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq, in 1953, to the Iraq War, to the criminal environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, BP would have been there.
But the fourth largest company in the world wasn't always called BP. It used to be owned by the British Government (remember the navy armada in need of oil). It was named the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company when the CIA teamed up with the British because the Western style Iranian leader Mossadeq wanted to nationalize Britain's 100% owned and run giant oil concession in Iran, and the West would have none of that. So Eisenhower authorized "Operation Ajax," and the Shah of Iran was placed in power -- ruling with an iron fist and the dreaded SAVAK, all the time fully backed by the U.S. -- leading to the radical theocratic revolution that we still confront today. All the time BP, which formally adopted its current name in 1954, was there.
BP was there throughout the de facto colonization of the Middle East to provide oil to the West, the British and the U.S. remaining strong partners in keeping any recalcitrant nations in line. Which leads to the Iraq War and why many Americans and Brits were puzzled by Tony Blair's eagerness to go along with Cheney's secret oil committee plan to seize Iraq oil fields and Bush's belief that the war was Biblically justified. BP is the largest corporation in the UK and the third largest energy company. Do you have any more questions?
BP and its American counterparts are part of the corporate oligarchy that run governments when it comes to energy policy. They don't take orders from sovereign nations; they give them. They are unelected, but because of their hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and profit, they run the show when it comes to oil policy, and profit comes first: forget about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Oil is their gold; we are just consumers who can be replaced at any time by more consumers, vassals to the oil company Masters of the Universe. There is no brake on their malfeasance, greed and criminal behavior, nor their ability to get nations to go to war, overthrow democratically elected leaders, and to get away with pollution of proportions beyond the imagination.
For over a century, whenever American and British GIs have died for oil, whenever pollution and toxicity have been let loose to ravage our shores, whenever residents have died of cancer caused by the oil refining process and spills, whenever Congress and White Houses have loosened regulations to allow reckless and massively damaging behavior, BP was there, along with their American counterparts: companies so large that they are above the law and governmental control.