Atom and Oil
We Risk War for Oil Fields in Middle East
But Neglect Atomic Energy for Peace
These days we are being told that work on atomic weapons
will proceed on a greater scale, and that new and more modern atom bombs
are in the process of development; that the development of atomic energy
for manufacturing and other civilian uses will be slowed down; that the
prospects of seeing this energy employed in civilian production are dimmer
now than they were only a few months ago; and that, not in one or two
years, but only in ten years from now will there be any chance to put
atomic energy to work for the benefit of mankind.
Why is this so? Because, we are told we must be prepared
for war with Russia. Why must we engage in a war with Russia? Because
Russia threatens American oil concessions in the Middle East.
Oil is fuel and, thus, a source of energy. America is the
greatest producer of oil, but also the greatest consumer. The day may
come when America will import more oil than it exports. Especially in
the event of hostilities, oil will be the decisive raw material, and American
oil resources may not suffice to lubricate and fuel another war of several
Consequently, it is argued, we must prepare ourselves with
atomic weapons for a war, even a preventive war.
This is a chain of fallacious arguments. Although Russia,
by its support of partition in Palestine, demonstrated that it does not
intend to exploit American difficulties in the Middle East centering around
Palestine and oil concessions in Arabia, the oil companies of America
and our Administration feel insecure over the
fabulous concessions in Arabia. These concessions belong
to private companies.
* * *
In January of this year, profits from Arab~an oil by two
foreign corporations owned by two American oil companies were stated to
be more than $ 1 1 7,000,000, in disclosures made to the Senate War Investigating
Committee. Treasury agents told the committee, however, they saw little
chance of obtaining any tax revenues from these profits.
Sen. Owen Brewster, chairman of the Senate Committee, had
presented the facts unearthed before his committee to the Treasury Dept.
on Nov. 21 last.
It appeared that the Texas Company and the Standard Oil
Company of California jointly owned the Bahrein Petroleum Company of Canada,
which, it was testified, piled up profits of $92,186,107 on an investment
of $ 100,000, and the California Texas Oil Company (Caltex), incorporated
in the Bahamas, had profits of $25,387,673 on an investment of approximately
$ 1 ,000,000.
No taxes of any kind had ever been paid to the United
States or to any foreign government, Sen. Brewster told the Treasury
Much has been made in certain quarters of the close proximity
of Russia to the oil fields of the Middle East. But if the threat were
as real as it is portrayed, considerable doubt should be cast on the wisdom
of the State and Defense departments policy of placing our national
resources behind the oil concerns, risking involvement in war with Russia
to protect these fields.
Because Russia is so close to the oil fields in question
and we are so far away, in the event of hostilities, these fields, and
the developments financed with American capital, would not only be beyond
the reach of American forces, but
* * *
Are the oil companies interested in a war that will engulf
the Middle East? They should certainly not be. They would be unable to
exploit their concessions during a war, and very probably they would lose
these concessions as the result of a war. War would be a death warrant
for all the profits these companies hope to extract from the Middle East.
Then do we follow the path of wisdom or the road of fools?
To postpone the development of atomic energy as a source of energy for
national manufacturing and other civilian uses in order to prepare for
a war to defend oil, an inferior source of energy in comparison with the
atom, is a grave mistake.
One gram of atomic fuel has enough energy to carry a plane
around the world, and a few grams may drive a ship around all five continents.
The money and human effort expended on the development of atomic weapons,
if devoted to the development of atomic energy for civilian purposes,
would relegate oil to a secondary position.
Would we drive a donkey in a Rolls Royce? Should we use
atomic energy for the sole purpose of upholding oil concessions when the
atomic product is infinitely superior to oil.
America does not need to fear a lack of oil; the atom would
keep production going, and make the world a good place to live in.
The oil industry would like to prevent the development of
the atom for peaceful uses; it therefore presses it into war uses, totally
blind to the fact that in the event of a war the oil industry would lose
its possessions in the Middle East; the enemy would itself use the oil,
the pipe lines, the installations, and refineries now built, unless we
ourselves blow them up at the start of the war.
* * *
It is obvious, therefore, that the oil industry is leading
not only America, and the entire world, but also itself, to disaster.
In the atomic age no war should be fought for any source of energy whatsoever.