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September 12, 2007

It Really Is All About The Oil

There's been an impressive amount of honesty recently about what the Iraq war is all about. Here's George Bush, in an excerpt from Dead Certain:

"The job of the president," he continued, through an ample wad of bread and sausage, "is to think strategically so that you can accomplish big objectives...Iran's a destabilizing force. And instability in that part of the world has deeply adverse consequences, like energy falling in the hands of extremist people that would use it to blackmail the West."

And here's Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) on why we can't leave Iraq:

Candidly, we would be giving it [Iraq] up to Iran. Iraq has, it's estimated, 10% of the world's oil, but in fact it has probably about 20% of the world's oil. It's a huge amount to allow a unfriendly country to control.

The oil is also the basis of our motivation to attack Iran. The idea that Iran is a genuine threat to the U.S. is preposterous, but Iran is by no means a preposterous threat to the ability of George Bush, Exxon and Prince Bandar to control the mideast's oil completely.

Posted at September 12, 2007 07:37 PM | TrackBack

If we can put man on the moon with a ten year project, why can't we end our dependence on foreign oil in ten years? It's a rhetorical question.

Posted by: Urban Sombrero at September 12, 2007 08:35 PM

Sorry to be so obtuse, but in what sense does having 160,000 US troops in Iraq give us "control" of their oil? In what sense would Iran have "control" of Iraqi oil if we left?

There's only one useful thing you can do with oil, and that's sell it on the world market to someone else. And once it's on the market, you've lost control of it. Iran decides not to sell oil to us, and sells it to China instead, that just frees up oil supplies elsewhere for us to use. It's a fungible product, and you can't drink the stuff, so it ends up in the gas tank of the highest bidder no matter who has their boots on the ground where it's pumped.

Posted by: SteveB at September 12, 2007 08:40 PM


You're right. It's not about oil. It's about oil profits.

Posted by: MikeS at September 12, 2007 09:06 PM

SteveB, that's not at all obtuse. It's right on the money (if you'll forgive a pun). There is absolutely no sane reason why there would need to be boots on the ground. If selectively denying oil was an issue, they could torpedo tankers with a lot less effort and expense. They could fund and arm more terrorist groups to target oil infrastructure.

I think the answer lies along the lines Jonathan has previously detailed. The boots on the ground are primarily a domestic initiative. It's a way of funneling money to the most militant and best connected supporters of the the security state. It's war theater for the wingnuts and liberal hawks. It tips power away from rivals and puts on a media show to distract people from domestic problems. Papa Doc Bush's Gulf War was a proof of concept for that. Clinton's policy of starvation and infrastructure degradation wasn't spectacular or profitable enough. Greed knows no limits other than those imposed from the outside. Hence, Baby Doc Bush's adventurism.

Posted by: Scruggs at September 12, 2007 09:07 PM

Hold a gun to the Iraqis' head, steal the shirt off AMERICA'S back.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2007 09:20 PM

I'm not sure that a technological miracle is available. Oil is used for energy because it works so well. If the American "lifestyle" is truly "not negotiable," then there is simply no easy way to wean ourselves off foreign oil. The physics are not there.

Posted by: Brian at September 12, 2007 11:32 PM

brian at the moment that's like saying we are all tv news anchors and if we lose our hair to chemotherapy, it would end our careers. something's gotta give. there's slack in our system now — 15–20% is my estimate, based on another — and much we could do to improve/replace equipment and logistics, in short time.

it does there was some kind of idea at some point that the invasion of iraq would create a permanent southern republican shock-therapy version of south korea as a robber-bulwark against rogue non-states. this is what they call a big idea, i think.

what's in iraq is cheapest and central asia is cheaper to get out. that gives those at the spigot pricing power for deals like venezuela's been cutting people. also pipelines around asia would screw up… something. who's plans are supposed to last how long now? this is a tailspin.

Posted by: hapa at September 13, 2007 01:06 AM

*it does seem there was some kind of idea

Posted by: hapa at September 13, 2007 01:08 AM

Rather than argue about whether the war is about control of oil or military profiteering, you might like to take a tip from Pandagon - both/and is better than either/or.

Posted by: Dunc at September 13, 2007 07:01 AM

Why does war need to be "for" or "about" anything? Isn't war its own justification? I mean, quoting Scruggs, above, if "funneling money to the most militant and best connected supporters of the the security state", "war theater for the wingnuts and liberal hawks", and "[tipping] power away from rivals and [putting] on a media show to distract people from domestic problems" isn't enough justification for a war, then what is?

My beef with the "the war is for oil" meme is that it implies we actually got something in return for invading Iraq, when, in fact, we got nothing. Oh sure, Mr. Custer and Mr. Battles got something, but we got nothing.

When I hear "the war is for oil", I think of Mr. average guy driving his SUV past the peace vigilers with their "no blood for oil" sign, then glancing down at his gas gauge, and thinking, "Hey - somebody else's blood bought me some oil! Not such a bad deal for me!"

Posted by: SteveB at September 13, 2007 09:41 AM

What strikes me about that excerpt from the book is that the monkey in the man suit probably fancies himself a deep thinker who has mastered the nuances of global affairs to the extent that he can actually provide some insight to other people with his lectures.He's kind of like the Otto character in A Fish Called Wanda.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at September 13, 2007 09:43 AM

Darn, fanatics in control of YOUR oil, just like there were fanatics in control of YOUR land andsome fanatical primitives in africa were in control of your labor... But you took care of those. We look forward to the time when America will put things right again and there will be 200-300.000.000 less fanatics in the middle east. The rest of them can be confined in "reservations" and have them represented in pathetic, racist, fascist Disney cartoons and Clint Eastwood Wild-East movies.

Posted by: YOURFUCKINGOIL at September 16, 2007 04:46 AM