Yesterday British Petroleum agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to the US government, while pleading guilty to 14 criminal charges connected to the April 2010 disaster which resulted in nearly 5 million barrels of crude being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers were killed aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig. The fine is the biggest single criminal fine in corporate history.
Weeks after the calamity, the British Establishment was still lecturing Americans on the perils of blasphemy in the colonies. Lord Norman Tebbit, former Thatcher Employment Secretary, had the temerity to accuse President Obama of “a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political presidential petulance against a multinational company”. Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.
Daily Mail columnist Geoffrey Wheatcroft accused our seditious president of “hypocritical as well as demagogic” criticism of BP. Wheatcroft then went on to recount a pattern of disrespect that the US has shown the British dating to 1812. Disrespect? I guess Mr. Wheatcroft isn’t content with the “special relationship” that calls for US soldiers to die and US taxpayers to get soaked, whilst Royal Dutch/Shell gets the first Iraqi oil contract and British Petroleum the second.
In a truly xenophobic, bigoted, demagogic, Aryan colonial master-inspired moment, another Daily Mail columnist named Melanie Phillips admonished Obama for “damaging aggression” against BP, blathering on like only a condescending Brit can do, that the guy we democratically elected, “does not reflect America’s traditional values or interests”. Missing the slave trade are we, Melanie?
A Daily Express headline warned that, “Obama Is Killing Our Pensions”. So riled was the still existing but now silent British Empire and its BP pensionados that the US ambassador to the UK was forced to say in an interview that President Obama will at once stop referring to their poor little oil giant as British Petroleum. How could this upstart plantation manager invoke such a nationalist theme in his dressing down of a descendent of the East India Company?
Despite this shrill chorus of idle rich Anglo whining, naturally with the full and far bent over backing of its surrogate US Republican Party (bent over most award going to Texas Rep. Joe Barton), Very British Petroleum, that persecuted “multinational company”, lost this battle with Democracy. The BP colonial dinosaur was even forced to announce that it will suspend dividends to the landed gentry for one year after being pressured by the Obama Administration to set up a $20 billion fund to cover economic damage.
Then in a charitable, if two-month belated act, Very British Petroleum/Amoco/ARCO/Anaconda/Multinational Company Formerly Above Reproach According To Lord Something Or Other (gasp!) apologized. But its Swedish chairman bungled even this, telling Gulf Coast residents how BP would look after “the small people”.
Meanwhile Congress grilled the heads of the Four Horsemen- BP, Royal Dutch/Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco. Some were curious why the companies’ spill contingency plans looked so strikingly similar (collusion anyone?) Others were troubled by references to “saving walruses”, which haven’t lived in the Gulf for around 3 million years. Still others asked why a Florida scientist named Peter Lutz, who died in 2005, was still listed as the Cartel’s go-to guy in the event of an offshore disaster. Both Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Chevron Texaco CEO John Watson slammed and tried to distance themselves from BP. It was a pathetic display of contempt, cowardice and general sucking up.
Dividends? Small people? Disrespect? Divine Right of Kings was it? What are you people on?
I had at the time a better idea.
How about the smug contemptuous spoon-fed disrespectful shareholders of BP get their pampered puny selves out of their castles, jet on down to the Gulf of Mexico, get on some rubber gloves, and help clean up the big mess their “multinational company” made.
Ya’ know, pull up the ole’ bootstraps and show some of that good old capitalist free market personal responsibility we hear so much about when the share price is going up. Maybe the ingrates could even say (gasp!), “We’re sorry.”
Dean Henderson is the author of four books: Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve & Stickin’ it to the Matrix. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @ www.deanhenderson.wordpress.com