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November 11, 2005

Father convinced Iraq war is about oil

Soldiers' dad sounds off at Cornbread and Beans

By James S. Tyree

Transcript Staff Writer

Larry Syverson spent Veterans Day honoring Americans in the armed forces in what he considers the best way possible -- by advocating for their withdrawal from Iraq during a visit to Norman.

The geologist from Richmond, Va., is visiting the region to speak on that cause. Friday, he spoke at the Tyner's Cornbread and Beans luncheon in a packed conference room at Furr's Cafeteria.

Syverson is no pacifist, as three of his four sons are veterans and two are Army soldiers who've been deployed to Iraq. He said he's proud to have at least one son in uniform since 1989, but this war is the first that's compelled him to speak out against military action.

"I understand hardships are a part of the job," Syverson said of military service. "But it has to be for compelling reasons."

Syverson is convinced the war is about securing oil, based on multi-billion dollar business deals there and firsthand accounts from his sons. The speaker had photos of his sons near the podium on posterboards that said Iraqi oil is not worth his sons' blood.

Branden Syverson was a master gunner in Tikrit whose final missions overseas before returning were guarding pipelines and reading reserve tank levels. Being a geologist, the elder Syverson said Iraq sits on the world's second-largest oil reserve, of which only 10 percent has been used.

The speaker accused the Bush administration of planning a long-term occupation all along, something he's believed since learning of a 10-year, $11 billion contract with a private company to build barracks in Baghdad. Syverson also criticized the government's ban on showing flag-draped caskets returning home, saying the fallen "must make their last trip home under the cover of darkness."

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