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"It's all about the oil!!!!!"

That's yet another of the shibboleths the anti-war movement that's finally irritated me enough to debunk. The common version of that is that the war in Iraq (and, by extension, the war on terror) is all some grand conspiracy to gain control of large amounts of oil, with the concurrent money and power that comes with it.

It's long past time to dismantle this particular load of crap.

1) One of the main reasons most of the Middle East doesn't like us is our support for Israel. Bush has been staunch in backing Israel, so that must be factored in.

Not only does Israel not have any oil, but it is pretty much universally disliked by the nations that do have it. If we wanted to curry favor with those with the oil, we'd toss Israel to the wolves and start sucking up to them.

2) The first place we invaded in the War On Terror was Afghanistan -- a country with not only no oil, but no real natural resources worth exploiting (not counting opium).

3) Since we invaded Iraq, the price of oil has skyrocketed, Iraq's oil production fell and hasn't regained, and the oil industry has been a regular target of the terrorists.

4) The current apparent targets of the war on terror, Lebanon and Syria, also lack oil.

Now, let's presume for a moment that we really DID want to have a war for oil. What would be the likely targets?

1) Kuwait -- a relatively small country with a small population (2.5 million, about 1/2 not citizens) and lots of oil. That'd be a good place to start. But one tiny problem -- after Iraq took it back in 1990, we took it away from him -- then GAVE IT BACK to the Kuwaitis.

2) Saudi Arabia -- about 80% of the population of Iraq, more than twice the oil, and most of it concentrated in a relatively small area. They also have a fairly unimpressive military, relying on foreign contractors to keep them running. We could easily take the oil fields, chase all the Saudis into the desert, and keep the oil for ourselves. An argument could even be made for doing this -- the Saudis have, for decades, dealt with their radical problem by bribing them (with their oil wealth) to leave the country and cause problems elsewhere. Never forget that Osama Bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.

But like in Kuwait, we once had a sizable military presence in Saudi Arabia, but never exploited it. When the Saudis asked to leave, we departed without a fuss.

3) Mexico has sizable oil reserves, too, and is much more conveniently located for an invasion. Too convenient, in fact -- Mexico is currently engaged in a quiet invasion of US. We could make a case for invading Mexico and running the place long enough to straighten them out and end the illegal alien invasion, but no one's made that case.

One final point: for better or ill, oil is essential to our continued survival. Our entire economy and way of life is built on oil. Our national security is dependent on oil. Until we get enough of a clue to move away from that, oil is quite possibly one of the most essential reasons we should consider going to war.

We desperately need to develop alternates to oil -- solar, nuclear, wind, whatever. But nuclear is highly unpopular, wind is being fought by the "beautiful people" who value their unemcumbered view over cheap, renewable electricity (that's going on on Massachusetts' Cape Cod -- I might tackle that one some day), and solar isn't efficient enough yet.

So no, the current war isn't about oil. But the next one very well could be.

J.


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Comments (25)

We could make a case for... (Below threshold)
tee bee:

We could make a case for invading Mexico and running the place long enough to straighten them out and end the illegal alien invasion

Actually, we'd end up stablizing the place and then we would both fatten our wallets with our prosperous new family members and reduce our overhead on that border, taking it to the shorter southern border beneath it. I like that idea better than going after those ornery neighbors to the north who should have been states 50-65 (or so).

Also:Why would we ... (Below threshold)
jb:

Also:

Why would we start an expensive war to get rid of Saddam when he would have been happy to sell us the oil?

Why did we push so strongly to sanction Saddam so that he couldn't sell any oil?

You cheated a bit by hammer... (Below threshold)

You cheated a bit by hammering away at the lunkheaded "all about the oil" (AATO) case. There are two other AATO arguments that are a little less meat-headed.

First, oil is definitely the reason that the United States involved itself in the region. Remember, we turned down a "mandate" at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. We had no interest in the Middle East. We continued to have very little interest in the Middle East until 1967 (other than to keep the Suez Canal open), when Nasser flipped to the Soviet sphere and the Russkies funded a proxy war against Israel. We quickly figured out that Israel was the only thing standing in the way of Soviet domination of the Middle East. We could not afford to let the Middle East get "Finlandized" in the terminology of the time, largely because of the then growing strategic significance of oil.

So, our entanglements in the region, dressed up today in a lot of moral finery, are substantially as a consequence of the region's oil.

Now, there is no way that the United States could function as an economy without importing some oil. But it is also undeniably the case that we have made a great many political choices that tend to promote the consumption of oil, and that therefore make us dependant upon an almost constant supply of cheap oil. Just yesterday the newspaper headlines were blaring that the price of gasoline might go up - omigod - by twenty five whole cents! Gasoline remains cheaper than bottled water, milk or even Diet Coke, and it is far more useful than any of those fluids at the margin, yet people think that their lives will unravel if they have to pay 15% more for it. Americans are addicted to cheap gasoline, and therefore to open markets in the Middle East.

The second nuanced AATO argument relates to our ability to coerce the Saudis to our side in the GWOT. As long as the Saudis control the marginal oil production (which is where the price comes from), there was a real limit to our ability to coerce them to our side in the fight against al Qaeda. There is a pretty good (prewar) argument that with control over Iraq we could influence marginal production to a sufficient degree that we would diminish Saudi Arabia's ability to influence prices. That would put us in the driver's seat -- the fact that the insurgency has prevented us from realizing this objective is hardly evidence that it wasn't our intention.

Now, the lefties would say that we wanted control over Iraq production so that we could influence the price down so that gas-guzzling Bush voters could keep burning cheap gas like there was no tomorrow. Hawkish righties (such as myself) would argue that we wanted to control Iraq production so that we could hold Saudi Arabia's feet to the fire. Either way, though, it was AATO.

All your arguments, of course, are a strong refutation of the shallow lefty AATO arguments, which always were laughably stupid, however many Europeans and Hollywood jet-setters believed them.

Hey, I have never had a pro... (Below threshold)
robet:

Hey, I have never had a problem invading Mexico....Tit for tat....they want our benefits...their government encourages his citizens to come here....why dont we just take the final step....incorporate them as a series of states!

Well said. The MSM/DNC have... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

Well said. The MSM/DNC have been lying to us for decades. I have not heard a term that they must have used 20million times from 02 - 1/05 *QUAGMIRE* Guess even they realize that nobody except Pelosi, Reid and JFK will buy that anymore.
From 7/02 to 1/05 MSNBS, CNN,CBS +ABC would lead their "news" with another story(as in fiction) about the quagmire the War on Terror was. I almost miss it.

I'm taking a different trac... (Below threshold)
RR:

I'm taking a different track. In fact I'll use info that I got from Michael Moore's book about stupid white men. It deals with our dependency on foreign oil. He stated that Clinton sold out to the big three automakers by granting preferential business tax status to SUV's. I don't have a problem with SUV's but they definitely use a lot of gas. Our dependency on foreign oil went up because of that tax break.

Next Clinton stopped any drilling in the Anwar region in Alaska. I believe the output projections would've offset the increase caused by the SUV tax break.

Finally these same people (Gore, Clinton) promised us CAFE standards of 40 mpg. Everyone remembers Al Gore and his statements regarding internal combustion engines. I think obsolete was the term.
Anyway we never had any changes in the CAFE standards. In fact the last time we had a government mandated increase in average car mileage was during the REAGAN administration.

So, if this war is about oil then it's due to
dependencies created by a democratic administration.

In my mind this war is about knocking the dog shit out of people who actively or passively support the group, ideology or ethos that has been terrorizing Americans for the last thirty years.

Actually, Iraq does have oi... (Below threshold)

Actually, Iraq does have oil, its situated on top of one of the biggest oil deposits on the planet. The main problem is that the instability of the region (Ever since Saddam fucked with Kuwait) caused oil exports to drop like a stone (except for the oil-for-food program...and we know where THAT went).

We should annex Mexico, the... (Below threshold)

We should annex Mexico, then we wouldn't have to worry about illegal emigration because then they'd already be in the states...problem solved.

The U.S. really needs to st... (Below threshold)

The U.S. really needs to stop listening to big business and get the hell away from oil as soon as possible. The only way for the Middle East to actually be changed for the better is to no longer be able to rely on oil wealth. I have read reports that say that hydrogen fuel cells will be a viable alternative for cars within another five to ten years. As loath as I am to say it, the federal government needs to directly intervene by subsidizing the hell out of research, conversion of infrastructure and tax benefits to people who buy new hydrogen cars.

This will be an issue more important the SS, Medicare and even the War in Iraq in the long run. The faster the U.S., Europe and East Asia get away from oil, the faster the Muslims will lose one of their biggest cashcows they use against us.

The U.S. really needs to... (Below threshold)

The U.S. really needs to stop listening to big business and get the hell away from oil as soon as possible. The only way for the Middle East to actually be changed for the better is to no longer be able to rely on oil wealth.

Theoretically, we could do that -- but the rest of the world could easily keep the sheikhs floating in petro-(insert name of foreign currency here)s for decades to come.

Would you be okay with us forcing Europe, China and the Third World to stop burning oil, just to bankrupt the sheikhs?

I have read reports that... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I have read reports that say that hydrogen fuel cells will be a viable alternative for cars within another five to ten years.

Hmm. So where are the hydrogen wells? Oh that's right, well need power made by something else to make the hydrogen.

Just like Rathergate it was... (Below threshold)
Jo macDougal:

Just like Rathergate it was a pack of lies put out by the DNC/MSM to smear America. Only hard core progressives still believe this shi-.

The dnc/msm will continue s... (Below threshold)
TheEnigma:

The dnc/msm will continue spouting their lie that its all about oil. They know it's a lie, but do not care. Except for talk radio, FoxNews and the internet, no one questions the lie. They know that if they continue to spout the lie, a few more will accept it as fact and will therefore look negatively upon The President, The Administration, Republicans, Conservatives and the US.

My usual response to "war f... (Below threshold)

My usual response to "war for oil" people: I wish!

I came across <a href="http... (Below threshold)

I came across this lunacy just today, it's definitely a keeper:

"Legality doesn't concern governments. Governments have interests and only fools expect governments not to follow those interests. Right now the U.S. is following the oil interests, as it has done for the last 70 years or so. But if it had followed a program of becoming energy self-sufficient instead, we would never have seen the interiors of a number of places, such as Bosnia (vast coal deposits), Afghanistan (oil) and Iraq (oil). "

About the Italian journalis... (Below threshold)
FinkyNick:

About the Italian journalist incident, if it comes up as a comment thread, watchout. Having listened to the charges on RAI television (the Italian government station) it appears (and has been confirmed by print media stories) that the journalist "kidnapped" works for a COMMUNIST daily newspaper: "Giuliana Sgrena, 56, a reporter for the Communist daily newspaper Il Manifesto who had been taken hostage Feb. 4 (cont)" via washington post http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A9656-2005Mar5?language=printer
and therefore have the same agenda that Communists in Italy as well as Communists in the US have, to undermine US efforts in Iraq, to actively work toward the goal of forcing an Italian troop withdrawal and to generally undermine the US in everything it does as a general Communist reason for existence.

Some news reports have the US troops firing over 400 rounds at the journalists. In reading the US PRELIMINARY military account, some rounds were fired (at night?) at the engine block to disable a car that refused to stop after arm waving, gestures to stop, flashing lights and warning shots in the air.

Another quote, via washpost link above,
"Finally, a State Department official in Washington said the Italians did not tell either the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or U.S. military commanders about Sgrena's release, even though a U.S. hostage coordinator had been working closely with them on the case."

So a car with a just freed hostage would be traveling how fast to get as far away and as (insert: slow, leisurely, fast) as possible? A car with a COMMUNIST reporter from a country where the COMMUNISTS and other left wing populace are fanatical about their opposition to their country's participation in Iraq? If you understand Italian politics (and aren't one of the left wing wackos like from DU or DK blog sites), then you'll understand how accurate the above observation/characterization is.

A report, apparently by Berlusconi himself (whom I've just been informed by the locals where I am, is buddy, buddy with Russia's Putin) characterizes the incident like this: "Several shots hit the car. One man was mortally wounded by a bullet," he said.

Over 400 rounds fired, the Italian PM reports that "several shots hit the car"? If it is true that "several shots hit the car, then either 400 rounds were not fired at the journalists (someone is lying or exaggerating, why?) or some US soldiers need some additional time on the firing range. Which is it?

Also, from same WashPost: "After her kidnapping Feb. 4, Sgrena appeared on a videotape, disheveled, tearful and on her knees pleading for her life. "Help me, help," she cried. "My life depends on you. Make pressure on the Italian government to withdraw its troops." The words "Mujaheddin Without Borders" were superimposed in the corner of the screen. Earlier claims to be holding her had come from the Jihad Organization of Mesopotamia and the Islamic Jihad Organization.

On Feb. 19, supporters of Sgrena and antiwar activists mounted a large demonstration in Rome, demanding the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq."

So we have, 1. claims of at least three different groups holding the reporter hostage,

2. One of the groups claiming to be called: "Mujaheddin Without Borders" (Reporters without borders?),

3. An academy award performance from a Communist reporter who's political affiliation gives motive to the agenda of getting Italian troops out of Iraq, which also that brings back memories of convicted terrorist Lori Berenson's performance caught on video, as well as Tonya/Patty Hearst's performance and subsequent snowing of some of the people.

4. Large coordinated demonstrations in Rome following the kidnapping saga pushing for Italian troop withdrawal from Iraq.

5. Statement made on RAI television, same segment as above, where either a member or a leader of the Communist party (at a minimum a representative of the Communist party from what I'm being told in the first person translation and as I listened to it myself) stated that (paraphrased) "THERE WAS NO WAY THE US WERE GOING TO LET THEM LEAVE ALIVE".

ps, a thanks to the US troops, the troops and those who have stood by the US in the UK, in Australia, Italy, Poland, and the other countries who have stood with the US and who's troops and families have made the ultimate sacrifice for our global fight against terrorism, against extremism disguised as religion and for help in our global fight for freedom. You've stood with us while enduring extreme internal and external pressures from extremists, from religious fanatics and from coordinated efforts from the left wing extremists. Your determination to stand with us for a just cause will be remembered.

Thank you.,

If we want a real war for o... (Below threshold)

If we want a real war for oil, we could always invade Canada. We outnumber them 10 to 1, they depend on us for military protection, our supply lines would be very short, and most Canadians are anti-war and wouldn't fight back.

atomic amishI chec... (Below threshold)
TJIT:

atomic amish

I checked the DOE website and if I read it correctly the total producible oil reserves for the entire country of Afghanistan is 100 million barrels of medium gravity crude. For comparison most years in the Gulf of Mexico there is at least one field discovered that has 100 million barrels of oil recoverable.

I'm in the oil business and I can't recall ever reading any article that mentioned Afghanistan as a highly prospective area for finding oil.

Only one third of the world... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

Only one third of the worlds oil is in the middle east.

People forget, there is two thirds elsewhere that is currently just discounted becuase it doesn't fit into teh TRADITIONAL view of what oil is. It might be a bit more expensive to get out of the ground in places like Canada BUT IT IS THERE.

The WAR FOR OIL argument is complete and total bullshit made up by the moonbat commies.

Jay Tea makes some good poi... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

Jay Tea makes some good points and TigerHawk appends with some nice historical perspective and insight to debunk the "war for oil" myth.

I'll just add a fact sheet that I've referenced previously from a different post.

U.S. DOE Table 5.4 Petroleum Imports by Country of Origin, 1960-2003
See YR 2001.

795 - Thousand Barrels per Day [Iraq Imports]
11,871 - Thousand Barrels per Day [Total Imports]

That translates to ~6.7% of total imported crude acquired by U.S. at the most current levels of full production and "stable" Iraq.

1) We still pay full global market price for oil.
2) We have spent and are committed to spending billions of dollars now and for some unknown amount of future time in Iraq without direct oil compensation.
3) The percentage of our total crude oil "needs" from Iraq composed but ~6.7% of our imported crude only.
4) The U.S. has other sources of oil domestically as well as other sources of fuel.

Would I like to see a better energy plan from this administration? You bet. Do we have some dependence on ME oil? Absolutely. But the energy market and our activity within it is a global one strategically designed to reduce our dependence on any one particular source. To propose that U.S. action in Iraq was solely to secure cheap oil is absurd given our inaction elsewhere (at much lower risk) and the capital spent to defend a region without drawing a barrel for free.

FinkyNick visit <a href="ht... (Below threshold)

FinkyNick visit The Jawa Report and you will see the entire story, too. Thanks for the stats AD, that will help for sure. If we really want to foster an independence of middle easten oil we could show a really strong interest in Venezuela, they have a fairly big deposit, too.

Oh, by the way, most people don't know this, but oil from around the world has different properties. Speaking from my experience (and my instructor's experience as a Cheif Engineer for 30 years), not all oil can really be used for gasoline. We have tremendous reserves of oil here in the United States too, but what is preventing us from using it in our cars? The cost of refining it to the lighter oils. For example, I forget which coast it is, but oil from one of our coasts is extremely high in sulfur, another is extremely high in asphaltines.

Most of the oil produced here in the states is used soleley for energy production. Actually, on the east coast (if I'm not mistaken), they use coal. "war for oil" people don't know anything except what they're told. It makes you wonder if you can sell them beachfront property in the sahara desert,.

The first place we invad... (Below threshold)
Anachronda:

The first place we invaded in the War On Terror was Afghanistan -- a country with not only no oil, but no real natural resources worth exploiting (not counting opium).

Sheesh! The Afghanistan thing was about the secret oil pipeline route, not oil per se. Get with the program, man!

It's not just about oil, Ja... (Below threshold)

It's not just about oil, Jay, it's about profit. And this war was generated tremendous profits for a lot of Bush campaign contributors.

The occupation of Iraq was cost $200 billion and counting. Where do you think that money goes?

As for Afghanistan, the profit motive DEFINATELY played a role in the invasion and subsequent government---which awarded Unocal a multi-trillion dollar pipeline contract within hours of its establishment.

You can read a very basic outline about oil profits from the Afghan adventure at http://www.worldpress.org/specials/pp/front.htm

If you REALLY want to underdatnad it, though, you should read Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid (Yale University Press 2000).

RE: Don Myers's post (March... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Don Myers's post (March 7, 2005 10:47 AM)
It's not just about oil, Jay, it's about profit. And this war was generated tremendous profits for a lot of Bush campaign contributors.

Well, if that's the presumptive paradigm by default, then how about another? We'll just extend this out to employees since all those working-class Democrats are employed by Republicans. So, a bunch of Democrats got jobs, extended their current ones, or received raises/bonuses from this highly rewarding business venture. See? It's all win-win!

The problem, my dear drivel... (Below threshold)

The problem, my dear drivel, is that dollars spent on war create fewer jobs and less benefit to society than dollars spent on almost anything else.

If we'd taken that $200 billion or whatever and poured it into, say, infrastructure, we'd put hundreds of thousands of people to work in construction, fabricating plants, etc. And when we were done we'd have a lot of useful things lying around---things like highways, mass transit systems, and hydroelectric dams---that pay dividends for decades to come.




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