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It's the Oil
October 11, 2007 9:49 AM   Subscribe

It’s the Oil (Stupid)
posted by i_am_a_Jedi (69 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a well-articulated exposition of what everyone already knows. As the title of this post suggest, it's the oil, stupid.

So let me ask an odd, but honest question. Knowing this to be the case, and knowing that by and large all of the serious candidates for president from both parties are going to continue this kind of policy, even if the execution differs, why would we all just by oil stocks?

If the oil companies are going to profit off of this war, and our leaders and their friends and family are going to do the same, is it immoral or unethical for us to do the same? Our behavior is on too small a scale to have an effect, so would anyone consider it wrong if someone opposed to the war did this to profit anyway?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2007


Yawn. How is it that some people are still on about Iraq being about oil? The U.S. wants to "control" Iraqi oil - what does that even mean? That it'll force Iraq to ship its oil straight to the U.S.? If it wanted Iraq's oil, it could always have dropped sanctions and just bought the damn stuff, for a lot cheaper than the price of a war. Even if they have bases permanently, they'll still be paying the market price for the stuff - so what's the "control"?
posted by Dasein at 9:59 AM on October 11, 2007


They are terrified of the Iraqis nationalizing their oil industry (ala Iran in the 1950's).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 10:01 AM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is supported by evidence in areas unrelated to the Iraq war. The Bush Administration isn't incompetent. In fact, they are are highly competent....but at evil things. Exploiting 9/11--really great. Preventing and recovering from 9/11...not so much. Running a government--not really. Running a government into the ground...awesome.

True conservatives indeed.
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


The author evidently doesn't understand the China-US bonds issue at all, so I don't have much confidence in the rest of the article.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2007


"oily rag" sounds like "oil Iraq." Isn't that crazy, guys?
posted by ORthey at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2007


Dick Cheney has been aware of and concerned about Peak Oil since the 1990s. Combine this with America's vulnerability to global oil prices, and you have the perfect rationale and logical reason to shore up the worlds second largest oil producer. This is not to say America wants to "own" the oil, but just make sure it's available for us to buy (money to buy oil is not a problem). This is not conspiracy lots of supporting evidence in The Last Oil Shock (2007) (website).
posted by stbalbach at 10:10 AM on October 11, 2007


What? Huh? Oil? Who said somethin' bout oil bitch? You cookin'? Oil? *knocks over water pitcher* C'mon y'all get out of here!

Via here at 2:24.
posted by ND¢ at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2007


why would we all just by oil stocks?

You know, A few years back I came to the same conclusion. I decided that if all my anger and frustration with the current leaderships unwillingness to reduce energy dependence on oil was for naught, I could at least ensure that my kids are better educated and insulated from whatever hell is coming down the pike. Exxon and various other energy funds have made me a decent amount of money. I have no idea whether my actions have any larger context, but more and more, as the poor and stupid elect leaders that only make sure they stay more poor and stupid, I feel like the people get what they deserve.
posted by docpops at 10:14 AM on October 11, 2007


You mean rebuilding a country with the world's second largest oil deposits into a free, independent, and stable state with a majority MUSLIM population isn't in the best interest of continuing the American Way of Life?
posted by wfrgms at 10:18 AM on October 11, 2007


The U.S. wants to "control" Iraqi oil - what does that even mean?

I think he was quite explicit about it -- American oil companies would lock up all the contracts, under favorable terms.
posted by Edgewise at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2007


This is the Seinfeld war, it is the war about nothing. We just keep sending soldiers into Iraq and fighting different people for no reason. If we think there is a reason, like the time we thought there were WMD's, then the reasons disappear in the next episode. Every so often when the audience loses interest we have a stunt like the surge.
posted by humanfont at 10:34 AM on October 11, 2007


If the oil companies are going to profit off of this war... is it immoral or unethical for us to do the same?

Well, I guess that depends on how you feel about war profiteers.
posted by lekvar at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2007


I bought oil futures in 1999.

So. Technically this war has been teh awesome for me.

Dasein you need a basic course in how energy companies and capitalism in general works. Your confused. Stop thinking of Oil Companies and American Interests as the same - or even interchangeable. They are not.

Buying oil? WE, consumers, buy oil.

Oil companies pump, refine, distribute, and PROFIT from oil. And certain oil companies were getting screwed by the capricious whims of Saddam Husein. Well. Screwed when compared to the deals they were getting elsewhere.

At taxpayer expense, through war, a major roadblock to the supply of their product was removed. As well as the unpredictable competition.

It is teh awesome when you, an oil company, have a sweet heart "exclusive" deal to your product supply. Especially when the taxpayers finance the infrastructure and security to see that you remain the sole controlling interest.
posted by tkchrist at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree and disagree with this article.

It's always been pretty obvious that the Iraq war was about the oil. If we cared so damned much about freedom and democracy, we would have intervened in Rwanda, we would be trying to halt the genocide in Darfur, and we wouldn't be tolerating dictatorial regimes in Saudi, Egypt, or Pakistan.

However, I don't think that things are going according to plan. At all.

From what I've read, we haven't been able to capitalize on Iraq's oil wealth in any meaningful way. To do so requires at least a modicum of stability - you need to have engineering crews that aren't being shot at, equipment that isn't being destroyed, and pipelines that aren't being bombed. You need a safe, reliable way of transporting this oil out of the country. None of these things are even remotely possible in an environment of constant civil war. Furthermore, we have no evidence that the violence in Iraq will subside any time in the near future.

So, while Cheney et al may have had some very realpolitik goals for the Iraq invasion, good old fashioned incompetence have torn those plans asunder.

I wouldn't expect anything else from this administration.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


Shouldn't "It's the Oil" be in summary quotes?
posted by yeti at 10:41 AM on October 11, 2007



You mean rebuilding a country with the world's second largest oil deposits into a free, independent, and stable state with a majority MUSLIM population isn't in the best interest of continuing the American Way of Life?


If you keep using the blink tag, even for REAL IMPORTANT POLITIKUL POINT, I will reach through your computer and squeeze your eyes out.

Carry on.
posted by nasreddin at 10:43 AM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


The sun never sets.
posted by Soup at 10:50 AM on October 11, 2007


I'm with Afroblanco. Stratfor said four years ago the whole thing was about establishing a permanent base for a large scale military force with which we could project power throughout the region. Implied in that explanation of course is that the region's oil wealth is the only reason we need to project power there. As long as I'm footing the bill for this adventure, how the hell do they think they are gonna get the oil out?
posted by well_balanced at 11:02 AM on October 11, 2007


I don't think it's mostly about the oil. But thanks for calling me stupid.

(P.S. Stupid people like me will likely continue to run this country, and it's not likely you'll ever correctly explain that phenomenon.)

(P.P.S. I am not rich. I am not greedy. I am not cynical. I don't like accumulating power. [Fit that into your explanation.])
posted by roadventer at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2007


tinfoihat>

I'm sure the Cabal of PuppetMasters who orchestrate world events decided long ago, that at some point someone was gonna have to make a move on the downslope of the oil supply curve.

I'm also starting to appreciate the brilliance in their choice of who to make the move. Sure, someone smarter and less craven might've done it with a little more subtlety and nuance, but lets face it; whoever was at the helm during the oil grab is gonna get reviled. Might as well be the last gasp of a dying political party, and whoever steps in first will have a bar before them that has been set so low, they can't help but succeed.

/tinfoilhat>

What I don't understand is why (even on a local level) would Iraqi's grant foreigners these contracts? Didn't Iraq have lots of engineers? This to me seems the most naked part of the equation. How hard can it be to start up an Iraqi oil company with some US cash?
posted by butterstick at 11:16 AM on October 11, 2007


I don't think it's mostly about the oil. But thanks for calling me stupid.

The enlighten us as to what the war IS about? Mr Smarty-not-cynical-poor-guy.
posted by tkchrist at 11:21 AM on October 11, 2007


How hard can it be to start up an Iraqi oil company with some US cash?

Well. We kinda did. And before us so did the Soviets. And after us the French and Germans gave it a shot.

And Saddam pretty much screwed everybody.

I think Saddam Hussein musing about switching from the petro dollar to the Euro was the last straw and the "strategic planners", financiers, and energy companies started listening to the nutty Neo-Cons (who they had dismissed as zionist zealot kooks previously).
posted by tkchrist at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2007


The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years.

If the author is to be believed, this is very disturbing. I mean, it's not any kind of revelation that we went there for the oil, but the fact that we have divided up the assets before the fighting has ceased definitely demonstrates where our concerns lay.

No wonder our credibility is shot.
posted by quin at 11:27 AM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


[...]so would anyone consider it wrong if someone opposed to the war did this to profit anyway?

I think it would be immoral, definitely. On what scale, I'm unsure. If, in fact, this war is all about the oil, then people are being killed--and turned into killers--for money. Do you think it's immoral to kill your neighbor so you can have his food, water, house, and/or land? In principle, it seems to me, this is the same: Iraq has a natural resource we need, for more reasons than just energy (as the article succinctly points out), and we've decided that we're going to control it ("we" being mainly American business interests, and it's important to note that this whole nightmare adventure is paid for by our money as taxpayers and our blood as soldiers. How convenient for the businesses.).

It is a nightmare, and I think that's the real reason no one talks about it openly. It's obvious that, even if this war is not entirely about oil, it is at least in large part, and that's pretty horrific.

I do disagree somewhat with the author's conclusion:

In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Still, there is reason to be sceptical of the picture I have drawn: it implies that a secret and highly ambitious plan turned out just the way its devisers foresaw, and that almost never happens.


There are other possibilities, as commented on upthread--could be that the intent was all there, but has been so incompetently executed as to prevent success (at least for the time being). This administration seems to me spectacularly successful at devising and initiating such plans while keeping most of us completely bewildered as to their true motives; while simultaneously--due to the insular secrecy needed to plan and initiate such horribly direct, realpolitik schemes and the limitations of personnel that entails--bungling the execution and successful completion of said plans.

In other words, I do think it's all about the oil; that this administration has been both smart and brutal enough to soberly assess the reality of America's current position in the world and future needs; plan and initiate actions to address said reality; and stupid and cocky enough to fuck it up pretty thoroughly. (Especially when all that neocon bullshit gets into their heads.)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:32 AM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


However, I don't think that things are going according to plan. At all.

From what I've read, we haven't been able to capitalize on Iraq's oil wealth in any meaningful way. To do so requires at least a modicum of stability


Well, yeah. But I'd suggest that maybe they really did buy the neoconservative "they'll throw flowers at us" nonsense, really did convince themselves that the Iraqis would be so darned thankful for being liberated that there'd be no such thing as an insurgency.

But part of the problem with believing it was about the oil all along is that it inevitably leads down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, doesn't it? If this is what Cheney and his energy task force were talking about in early 2001, as Holt suggests - why, then, September 11 is a pretty fortuitous event, isn't it? Gives us the impetus and the rationale to do what some thought needed to be done anyway. I mean, maybe it is all a coincidence. Or maybe we so want it to be a coincidence that we refuse to consider anything else.
posted by kgasmart at 11:33 AM on October 11, 2007


Let's see, it takes 18 years to make a soldier and 18 million to make a barrel of oil.
You do the math.
posted by Floydd at 11:36 AM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


"As long as I'm footing the bill for this adventure, how the hell do they think they are gonna get the oil out?"

Well, that's the real trick, isn't it? The real trick to all this is to get the oil production up to a high level - maximum or near-maximum that's physically possible - and then to transport it from the production sites to the place of use, here in the US.

That's a very, very long supply line with multiple vulnerabilities. Oil production in Iraq right now is less than half of what it was before the war; it could probably be quadrupled (from the pre-war level) within a decade if oil companies can start working now without interruption.

I think we're going to find out that the non-mobile production infrastructure (wells, pipelines, storage), and some of the mobile transport infrastructure (trucks, rail, supertankers), is just way too vulnerable to small, motivated guerilla groups - and it's of course exacerbated by the highly flammable/explosive nature of the actual commodities. It doesn't take much of a spark to set any of that stuff ablaze.

The plan may have gone well so far, but until Iraq is cranking out 5-to-8 million barrels a day of crude and the majority of it is making it to end-users in the West, it hasn't reached full success.

I think the putative Oil Lords are being very overconfident, if this is their plan. At some point, it will likely involve fighting a real (as in, vs. "major powers") defensive land war in Asia, at the end of a 10,000-mile ocean/air supply line (where the opponents can resupply by land). Do they really think Russia and China will sit on their hands - even at the cost of destroying their own economies?

Whatever's going on, we'll see how it pans out in a few years.

"18 million to make a barrel of oil."

Um, no. Current production cost of a barrel of oil varies between around $5 and $30, depending on the field and many other considerations. The average is much closer to $5 than $30, but I don't know what the exact number is.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:44 AM on October 11, 2007


Disturbingly, had Blackwater been paid out of corporate coffers and not taxes, I would find this whole situation much more palatable.

That being said, it still tastes like a shit sandwich.
posted by butterstick at 11:44 AM on October 11, 2007


Alright TKchrist.... NO more Dennis Miller for you!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 11:49 AM on October 11, 2007


Stupid people like me will likely continue to run this country, and it's not likely you'll ever correctly explain that phenomenon. I am not rich. I am not greedy. I am not cynical. I don't like accumulating power. [Fit that into your explanation.]

It's almost too easy. Stupid people like you are NOT running this country; stupid people like you are empowering the people who do run the country, who ARE rich, greedy, cynical and love accumulating power. And many of these stupid people are beginning to realize this, but not yet nearly enough. And regrettably, too many of us smart/non-greedy/non-cynical people (the kind who dominate the 'Filter) have lost all respect for your kind and are not making the alliances with the newly enlightened needed to successfully fight the people you empower. In time, the people you support will screw you badly enough for your own epiphany, but it will probably be too late for all of us.
posted by wendell at 12:03 PM on October 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


The treatment of Iraqi oil workers and their unions is also telling.
posted by Abiezer at 12:05 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes , It is teh awesome or put another way It is teh awesome . Or as some have said, It is teh awesome
posted by nola at 12:08 PM on October 11, 2007


If it's not about the oil, then explain this. Or this.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on October 11, 2007


If the oil companies are going to profit off of this war, and our leaders and their friends and family are going to do the same, is it immoral or unethical for us to do the same? Our behavior is on too small a scale to have an effect, so would anyone consider it wrong if someone opposed to the war did this to profit anyway?

It's a very good question, and one that individuals must wrestle with for themselves. There is big, big money to be made in wars ("War is a Racket," as Gen. Smedley Butler said) and in disasters of any kind. For more on this see Naomi Klein's new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

The U.S. wants to "control" Iraqi oil - what does that even mean?

It means what the article says: "One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years."

we haven't been able to capitalize on Iraq's oil wealth in any meaningful way.

By taking a large portion of Iraq's oil off the market, the price of the word's remaining oil has skyrocketed. Think of it as a two-tier plan: In Phase One, oil prices skyrocket and the big oil companies get rich, which they certainly have. Then, in Phase Two, when Iraq is stable enough to pump more oil, that oil will be under the control of U.S. companies for at least thirty years. From the perspective of Exxon and the other big major oil companies, it's win-win.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:40 PM on October 11, 2007


I think it is probably wrong to think there is a single reason for the war or that it served a single agenda. The problem is that it serves many interests in ways that peace simply doesn't.

Blackwater and the other merc armies in Iraq benefit from the war and chaos of occupation. KBR/Haliburton likewise. Arms manufactures as well. These groups all have an interest in an ongoing war/occupation with an adaptive enemy that can keep requiring new equipment. I am particularly concerned about what the merc businesses will do when Iraq is over and the US stops signing their paychecks.

The oil companies are benefiting and will benefit. They benefit both from the current instability inflating prices and the gaping oil consuming maw of the operating military. They will also benefit when they get their long term favourable contracts from the future stable puppet government and give Iraqis Sudan level compensation.

The Republican party benefited initially and will benefit again from being the macho war party when the Democrats eventually get around to ending the war. The rRepublican party loyalists who were part of the CPA benefited from being able to handle billions in cash without accounting procedures. Strangely a lot of it seems to have gone missing.

The US military benefits from having massive fortified bases in what will be pretty much a colony in the middle of a bunch of oil fields when the world starts fighting over the dwindling oil supply (China I am looking at you).

The world and Iraqis benefit if Iraq's eventual government is stable and less tyrannical than Saddam Hussein's baathist party.

The members of coalition of the willing all benefit in terms of the bribes the US handed out to get them join in.

IMO only the permanent bases for an upcoming Oil war is a real reason to be there and most of the other agendas actually interfere with that goal.

The problem is that while the military is capable of fighting the war the Republican party were perhaps the least capable people on earth to create a government and rebuild a society from scratch. They were ideologically opposed to just about every single thing they needed to do and treated it as a free market rape and pillage party.
posted by srboisvert at 12:46 PM on October 11, 2007 [8 favorites]


"18 million to make a barrel of oil."

Um, no. Current production cost of a barrel of oil varies between around $5 and $30


I think he meant years, not dollars.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:53 PM on October 11, 2007


I think it is probably wrong to think there is a single reason for the war or that it served a single agenda. The problem is that it serves many interests in ways that peace simply doesn't.

I believe the term you're looking for is Clusterfuck.
posted by butterstick at 1:37 PM on October 11, 2007


"I think he meant years, not dollars."

Oops. So he did. D'oh! Apologies.

"I believe the term you're looking for is Clusterfuck."


Well, not for the interests being served.

Remember, fellow Americans, your interest being served by all this is to generally be able to keep living as you are now, with cheap gasoline and plenty of neat toys to play with. We're all part of the problem, the interest being served better by bloody war than by peace.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:47 PM on October 11, 2007


I meant that as the resulting chaos is good for them. The worse it goes, the more money gets made. It's actually better for them that the occupation is long and bloody than if it had been rose petaly.
posted by butterstick at 1:52 PM on October 11, 2007


On Alan Greenspan's declaration.

---

The page isn't loading for me, so I'll come back to it later, but right now I'll address the whole "about the oil" thing. It's really not. Look at where the money is right now. There's not a lot of profiteering going on with the oil, but rather with the war effort itself. The oil contracts people talk about basically depend on a somewhat stable situation, which we don't have. Like srboisvert said slightly upthread:

Blackwater and the other merc armies in Iraq benefit from the war and chaos of occupation. KBR/Haliburton likewise. Arms manufactures as well. These groups all have an interest in an ongoing war/occupation with an adaptive enemy that can keep requiring new equipment. I am particularly concerned about what the merc businesses will do when Iraq is over and the US stops signing their paychecks.

This is where the most money in the war is right now. Why does everyone insist on it being the oil, which would at least motivate a completely owned and dominated, but stable Iraq? The money is, for now, in having a war that never ends.
posted by Arturus at 1:59 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Arturus, "money now" is tactics; "money later" is strategy.

There are so many angles to this, and they're all working together, is what srboisvert is saying, and I agree. Sure it's not just the oil, but oil control is definitely a major long-term core strategy.

Making lots of money now funds the long-term strategy.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:03 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course it’s about the oil, it has always been about the oil and if anyone bought the fact that it was about our safety and security they have their head up the old oil can.

Bush accomplished what his handlers wanted him to accomplish and in fact did better by reducing our military stockpiles so new weapons and new armament could be developed. We get to thin out the young herd a little bit and as an added plus we get to keep driving our big old hummers and continue living our lifestyles for at least another 30 years or so.
posted by malter51 at 2:10 PM on October 11, 2007


I'm less concerned with it being about the oil than I am with it being a complete and utter fuckup.

I mean, going to war for oil at least makes some sense. Sure, it's evil and immoral and a lot of other things, but at least it's rational. And I like rationality. I'm a lot more comfortable with leadership that's slaughtering people for oil than leadership that's slaughtering people because of some Book of Revelation fantasy. Not that it really matters to the people getting slaughtered, but at least rational violence is predictable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:22 PM on October 11, 2007


I mean, going to war for oil at least makes some sense.

Sure, it makes sense--if you squint your eyes just right and ignore the broader historical context and never stop to consider the wisdom of expending all your nation's resources on a mad oil-run instead of putting all that political and economic might into efforts to prevent and/or mitigate a potentially catastrophic world-wide environmental problem caused by your nation's overuse of oil.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:47 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Remember, fellow Americans, your interest being served by all this is to generally be able to keep living as you are now, with cheap gasoline and plenty of neat toys to play with. We're all part of the problem, the interest being served better by bloody war than by peace.

Some executives and investors are served by this. A schmuck like me who already owes those people money? Not so much.
posted by Foosnark at 2:54 PM on October 11, 2007


Point : Counterpoint The onion, of course.
posted by lalochezia at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2007


Foosnark: consider how disruptive it would be to your life if gasoline was $10 or $15 a gallon instead of $3. I'm not going to list it all out for you, but there's a massive domino effect when an essential commodity becomes very expensive.

Believe me, your day-to-day interests are being served - just indirectly.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2007


I agree with srboisvert that this war serves many interests. To quote US Major General William McCoy, “Everything imaginable has been undertaken in every sector.”

Which sector has benefited the most? As Arturus says, "Look at where the money is right now." Look at the major oil companies' profits. $39.5 Billion for Exxon in 2006 alone.

That eclipses the more well-known war profiteers. Halliburton's 2006 profit was a "mere" $2.3 billion.

Here's a strange and interesting fact about Iraq's oil industry. Iraq 's vast oil production, transport, refining and storage system is not metered.

Usually, oil operations are extensively metered, from well head to refineries to export terminals. But Iraq has had no working meters, making it virtually impossible to monitor the flow of crude or refined products or to trace the location of smuggling operations and corrupt practices.

'It's like a supermarket without a cashier,” comments Mike Morris, an oil industry expert who used to work for the State Department in Baghdad . “There is no metering [at the export terminal]. And there's no metering at the well heads either. There is no metering at any of the major pipeline junctions.” Morris estimates that “between 200,000 and 500,000 barrels a day” are unaccounted for.

The CPA could have installed metering promptly, but strangely did not. Bremer and his team were advised of the metering problem, but they repeatedly postponed action. When the IAMB pointed to the lapse, neither the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization nor US authorities could give a satisfactory explanation.

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


> The Republican party benefited initially and will benefit again from being the macho war party
> when the Democrats eventually get around to ending the war.

When will that be? In our lifetimes? In the lifetimes of babies born this year? This century?
posted by jfuller at 3:25 PM on October 11, 2007


Whenever it stops being profitable, I should guess.

No meters on the oil? Hmm. Very interesting. Although, you can get a reasonable guess by just counting tankers.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:36 PM on October 11, 2007


For those of you keeping score at home:

The war is about WMDs

The war is about Democracy for the Iraqi people

The war is about bringing about the Rapture by ensuring the survival of Israel

The war is about strategic control of one of the largest oil reserves left on Earth regardless of the fact that its pretty much the same people as before controlling the oil markets

The war is about positioning the American military, one of the most mobile and global, in some sand near the oil as if it was a barrier to asserting their power if they were not physical close when some future war that only jingoistic Sinophobic sentiment can really predict

The war is about curtailing Iranian regional power, despite all the evidence it has consolidated the regimes grip on their own people, the only thing they have shown any real interest in despite their outlandish rhetoric

The war is about cheese. Yes... cheese.

Seriously, none of us, no matter how many articles we read, no matter where we work, really know what this war was about. It may not have been about the same thing for all the protaganists. I certainly doubt Blair and Bush had the same vision and if they did I certainly can't fathom a universe where Cheney and Blair are in agreement about anything (for I doubt, sincerely, whether Cheney is a human at all).

All we do know is that a few thousand Americans and at least half-a-million Iraqis are dead, the place is a cauldron of sectarian violence and Americans are fucking dumb enough to vote in GWB into office twice.
posted by monkeyx-uk at 4:49 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


"It may not have been about the same thing for all the protaganists."

100% agree. Something of a synergy of different desires all combining.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:42 PM on October 11, 2007


Oil, you say?

Hmmm... interesting.
posted by pompomtom at 6:20 PM on October 11, 2007


Oil. Of course that's what it's all about.

Access.

Control.

Flow.

We'll keep at this for a little while longer.

Not much longer.


Keep it flowing. flowing. flowing. flowing.

Flowing. going. going. going.

Going. going.

gone.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 6:33 PM on October 11, 2007


Oh. Balad Air Base, the "superbase" the article references? I guess that's real.
posted by humannaire at 7:16 PM on October 11, 2007


The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies.

This is my unsurprised face.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:21 PM on October 11, 2007


Google maps has a Balad, Iraq:
it's just a click away
posted by sporb at 8:29 PM on October 11, 2007


The concept of permanent U.S. bases started years before the latest Iraq War. From New US Military Bases: Side Effects Or Causes Of War? by Zoltan Grossman, February 05, 2002:
Since the end of the Cold War a decade ago, the U.S. has gone to war in Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. The interventions have been promoted as "humanitarian" deployments to stop aggression, to topple dictatorships, or to halt terrorism. After each U.S. intervention, the attention of supporters and critics alike has turned to speculate on which countries would be next. But largely ignored has been what the U.S. interventions left behind.

As the Cold War ended, the U.S. was confronted with competition from two emerging economic blocs in Europe and East Asia. Though it was considered the world’s last military superpower, the United States was facing a decline of its economic strength relative to the European Union, and the East Asian economic bloc of Japan, China and the Asian "Four Tigers." The U.S. faced the prospect of being economically left out in much of the Eurasian land mass. The major U.S. interventions since 1990 should be viewed not only reactions to "ethnic cleansing" or Islamist militancy, but to this new geopolitical picture.

Since 1990, each large-scale U.S. intervention has left behind a string of new U.S. military bases in a region where the U.S. had never before had a foothold. The U.S. military is inserting itself into strategic areas of the world, and anchoring U.S. geopolitical influence in these areas, at a very critical time in history. With the rise of the "euro bloc" and "yen bloc," U.S. economic power is perhaps on the wane. But in military affairs, the U.S. is still the unquestioned superpower. It has been projecting that military dominance into new strategic regions as a future counterweight to its economic competitors, to create a military-backed "dollar bloc" as a wedge geographically situated between its major competitors.
Balad Airbase — also profiled at GlobalSecurity.org — and other large Iraq airbases are listed in the May 2006 Talking Proud article, Get Serious People, We're Staying In Iraq. It quotes an AP news report:
Air Force Maj. Gen. Allen G. Peck, the deputy commander of all U.S. Air Force aircraft in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in this April, 13, 2006 [sic].

AP reported, "The U.S. military is preparing for the day when air power from bases along the Persian Gulf will help ensure that friendly governments in Iraq and Afghanistan survive without American ground troops, according to Peck. 'We'll be in the region for the foreseeable future,' said Peck. 'Our intention would be to stay as long as the host nations will have us.'"
A full version of this AP Report is here.

Chances are good that this long-term overarching strategy will not be deterred by the election of any Democratic President for decades, and may help explain why current candidates have not come out strongly against a continued U.S. presence in Iraq.

There will be ground troop reductions, consolidation/removal of smaller bases, and various cutbacks to make it look like substantial changes have been made, but concrete runways, aircraft revetments, and munition bunkers are about as enduring as you can get.

I doubt that the Iraqi Air Force is going to be using them.
posted by cenoxo at 10:22 PM on October 11, 2007


The most strange and ironic of the possible outcomes of this war is that due to the combination of the present instability in Iraq and the coming of peak oil, by the time Iraq gets its act together and starts pumping oil, it will be one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world.

The fact is that if peak oil is coming and you are sitting on an oilfeild and don't need the money, it makes more sense to just sit on it, and that the war is forcing the Iraq to do just that.
posted by afu at 10:27 PM on October 11, 2007


Dennis Kucinich:
The Iraqi "Hydrocarbon Law" is an issue of critical importance, but has been seriously mischaracterized and I want to provide the House of Representatives the facts and evidence to support the concerns I have expressed.

As you know, the Administration set several benchmarks for the Iraqi government, including passage of the "Hydrocarbon Law" by the Iraqi Parliament. The Administration has emphasized only a small part of this law, the "fair" distribution of oil revenues. Consider the fact that the Iraqi "Hydrocarbon Law" contains a mere three sentences that generally discusses the "fair" distribution of oil.

Except for three scant lines, the entire 33 page "Hydrocarbon Law," is about creating a complex legal structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraqi oil. As such, it in imperative that all of us carefully read the Iraqi Parliament's bill because the Congress is on the record in promoting oil privatization.

This war is about oil.
We must not be party to the Administration's blatant attempt to set the stage for multinational oil companies to take over Iraq's oil resources.

The Administration set several benchmarks for the Iraqi government, including passage of the "Hydrocarbon Law" by the Iraqi Parliament.

And many inside the beltway are contemplating linking funding for the war in Iraq to the completion of these benchmarks, including passage of the "Hydrocarbon Law" by the Iraqi Parliament.

The Administration has once again misled Congress by mislabeling the draft law as an oil revenues distribution law, just as the Administration misled Congress about the Iraq war.

The war in Iraq is a stain on American history. Let us not further besmirch our nation by participating in the outrageous exploitation of a nation which is in shambles due to U.S. intervention.

The fact is that except for three scant lines, the entire 33 page "Hydrocarbon Law," is about creating a complex legal structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraqi oil.
posted by hadjiboy at 12:04 AM on October 12, 2007


In retrospect, and keeping with the realpolitik theme, the 2000 election could be seen as a clash of philosophies as to how to deal with the upcoming oil shortage. Reduce use of fossil fuels as energy (global warming) and invest in alternative, renewable energy sources, vs. forcefully taking the oil and preparing for more upcoming oil wars by establishing a long-term military presence in the middle-east.

The Bushies could argue that this was the only viable strategy. Even if DARPA has perfected cold fusion and we don't need oil for energy security, by controlling some of the largest oil reserves in the world, the US has some influence over rapidly expanding competing economies like China and India.

Hmmm... can't build cheap toys in China anymore? Too bad. We'll make them in the US. Wait - we don't really want to make cheap toys. Here, buy some of our liberated oil and make toys for us. Oil's running out? Good thing Exxon has all that profit they spent on R&D for alternative energies. They can totally turn switchgrass into biodiesel now. Don't worry, we'll sell that to you too. After all, we want our cheap toys.
posted by Nquire at 12:55 AM on October 12, 2007


well written article. thank you.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:22 AM on October 12, 2007


the 2000 election could be seen as a clash of philosophies as to how to deal with the upcoming oil shortage

That may actually be true, but the problem is we weren't presented with that choice. Bush was saying things like this:
If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we've got to be humble, and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom...I'm worried about over committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use...I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be...I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you.
Dude lied in the job interview.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:11 AM on October 12, 2007


I still don't get it. I'm assuming the Bush Administration are not fools (excepting Dubya himself). Hypocritical, lying bastards with particularly nasty, self-serving motives and not a care in the world for the misery they cause, yes, but neither fools nor badly informed. Cheney outlines exactly what happened in Iraq since 2003 nine years earlier. But if they knew what was going to happen - insecurity at the level they predicted means that they could never secure the oil which needs difficult-to-defend pipelines/roads and facilities - then how can it have been for oil? A few mega-bases isn't going to be enough to do anything other than give them an easy entry-point to ratchet up their presence quickly. So was it all just for the Kurdish oil? Was there something else going on? Am I missing something?
posted by YouRebelScum at 8:24 AM on October 12, 2007


YouRebelScum: KBR. Blackwater. Lockheed Martin. "War is a racket". "The great Iraq swindle". A successful oil grab would be great for business, but not necessary; if you own stock in the right companies and have friends in the government, war itself provides the perfect excuse for hurried no-bid contracts that no outsider can monitor; it's a rigged game, and you always win.
posted by Anything at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2007


Oh, and the loser in this game is the American taxpayer. The million dead Iraqis are the pawns.
posted by Anything at 9:33 AM on October 12, 2007


Everyone is forgetting the fact that with Iraq producing very little oil it has reduced the world supply, thus resulting in a hike on the price of a barrel thus resulting in much greater profits for oil companies.

Control isn't only about access and distribution, cutting off the supply is also a form of control, and one that is rewarding (albeit not as much as opening the tap, but it's a win-win situation).
posted by Vindaloo at 10:09 AM on October 12, 2007


Can anyone really be dumb enough to think Iraq has 200+ billion bbls of "undiscovered" oil?
posted by drstrangelove at 12:52 PM on October 12, 2007


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