It's all about the oil... or is it?

One frequent assertation from anti-war-with-Iraq persons is that the US is doing it because of oil. We want control of the oil.

My question is, how is war with Iraq going to increase our supply/decrease the cost of oil? Do folks think the US is going to take over Iraq and start shipping back oil for free? Do people really think the rest of the world would stand by and let that happen? That’s sort of what I get from “oil is the cause” people, and I find it too far fetched to be believable.

So, what do you think, is it about the oil? And, if it is, exactly how is war with Iraq going to benefit the US in regards to oil?

(I myself am not in support of this war, or at least that’s how I feel today)

Not much to do with oil if you ask me…I think we are more concerned Saddam is going to launch a nuke or some other such carnage on Israel/Kuwait etc…etc… Get it?

Worse case scenerio - He is in fact coupled with Al Quaeda and planning something even more horrible. Its Chess Eonwe and Saddam is not the King only a mere rook.
Hows the weather up there in VT? Got enough MAGIC HAT flowing up there?

I think that it is, indirectly, about oil. If these shenanegans were going in in some part of the globe (maybe central Africa) that has no strategic interest to the US, then we would be less inclined to jump into war. However, I think it is naive in the extreme to think that Bush is launching a war in order to enrich his oil buddies. Whatever one may think of Bush, it would take a vast conspiracy in the federal gov’t to carry that out. The president simply does not have that much power, thanks to the constitution.

If it was about oil, why didnt we stay when Daddy Bush already had troops in Kuwait with UN approval. Not approval to waylay the oil, but at least approval to be in the region.

yep, after all, they are the country with nukes, a crazy dictator, and a missile that can reach the mainland US. Oh, wait, they only have one out of three. But it would be a quick victory “Bomb 'em all” Bush needs to make us forget about the economy, and North Korea.

The more stable Iraq becomes, the less important Saudi Arabia is. The less important Saudi Arabia is, the more the US/others can push for a change. The more Saudi Arabia modernizes or becomes democratic, the less powerful – in theory – the support for Wahhabism. In a way, the Gulf War left hook in reverse.

Can it work? Seems like a longshot to me.


Do you honestly believe that Bush is trying to make people “forget about the economy”?

If people are that stupid (hey, I don’t have a job, but a least we kicked butt in Iraq so I’m thrillled) they deserve no better.

I keep hearing this argument tossed about like the talking points on the Today Show…

…doesn’t it make more sense to handle the one that already HAS nukes a little more gingerly?

But that aside, why do people have the idea that we should handle both situations the same?

Another thing, this economy Bush is supposed to be dodging…anyone notice that 120,000 jobs were created in January? Anyone notice that housing starts are up?

I am not a huge Bush fan, but I get a little tired of the same old arguments being trotted out.

I’ve read some interesting articles about that (forgive me for no cites). One suggested that we’d get just as much oil out of the deal if we simply lifted all sanctions on Iraq and let them work out the production levels with OPEC. So, all about oil, I don’t think so.

But then, what about the reports coming out about all the clandestine oil contracts that France and Germany allegedly have with Iraq? They seem to be much more interested in the oil than the U.S., though they preach from a supposed moral highground. IIRC, the figure quoted was something like $60 billion that they’d “lose” if the new regime doesn’t honor the contracts.

Of course, they might also be a little worried about what we’ll find in Baghdad relating to arms and technology shipments that were definitely not supposed to take place.

I think long-term oil security is important but not the driver. Hey, we went to Afghanistan and they’re not exactly rolling in oil. We’re out to eliminate the threats of madmen to the US and it’s allies before it’s too late. If Zimbabwe suddenly turned out to have nuclear weapons and a biological weapons program, I don’t think we’d hesitate to disarm them too, be it peaceful or by force.

What I wonder, is how much we regret not doing more to stop India and Pakistan - though, I think the Soviet threat had a lot to do with our hesitance. I also don’t think that North Korea will get to keep its program either - hopefully diplomacy can take care of that one but I wouldn’t rule anything out!

As for Bush being “war happy” or anything like that - just imagine the consequences of being wrong and letting containment be the answer - and then something really bad happens, like nuclear bombs unleashed in the US (or anywhere) or smallpox. Personally, I’d rather liberate Iraq and put an end to the nightmare before it happens than sit back and say, “why didn’t we do something when we had the chance?” But, I respect everyone’s opinion - as long as they put some thought into their reasoning and don’t just parrot the party line. This is serious stuff and worthy of time to form an opinion - whatever personal conclusion you reach.

(ps. if you want to search the cites yourself, I’m quite sure they were in the WSJ)

It is not about lowering the cost of oil, but instead, making sure that the US oil companies survive and make big bucks. The government also wants a stable, or at least more stable, source of foreign oil than that supplied by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries.

Do you really think the US oil companies care how much it costs you to fill your tank? Well they do, but they want you to pay more, not less.

If the US oil companies move in Iraq, they can fix the world price of oil and break OPEC hold. AKA, we become the new OPEC and roll in it.

If oil prices are significantly lower, then oil companies can enjoy a higher profit margin while lowering your price for gas. If they can profit more from each gallon, they are encouraged to offer LOWER prices so Joe SixPack will filler 'er up instead of just putting in $5.

Oil companies want to offer low priced gasoline, believe it or not.

I think the speculation of an oil driven motivation comes from the realization that despite the threat that Iraq presents there are other threats out there that are greater that the Bush Admin isn’t as violently concerned about. If one decides that the official story coming from the minitru doesn’t hold water then one is left to speculate about other known motivators.

Control over Iraq’s huge oil reserves will give America the ability to discipline OPEC and to some extent control global oil pricing. This in turn will give America unprecedented power in the world’s economy, which is especially important given the potential of a united Europe.


Darned cold! And yes, the Magic Hat flows like mana from heaven. :slight_smile:

Good points all, but I’m gonna pick on lout for more information. How will the US get control of Iraq’s huge oil reserves? That’s the part of this whole argument I don’t understand. I can see how the results of lifting sanctions on Iraq might lead to cheaper oil, and how replacing the Iraqi government might lead us to open trade with that nation. I don’t see how the US will gain control of the oil in a country that is not the US.


after the US oil companies invade Iraq, it will be US companies pumping the oil. The supply will be in the control of the US government. The longer term strategic importance of this is to remember the short term availability of oil. The US still has substantial deposits of oil and oil shale, enough for a couple of hundred years IIRC, but at relatively high cost. The game is to secure for US control an external source of oil that allows the US to leave their oil in the ground until later in the game. In the meantime US companies and some allies will gain profit from the development and sale of Iraqi crude and as a whole the world will become less dependent upon Saudi and Russian oil. This may have a perceived benficia effect upon Saudi Arabie as noted above.

As oil starts to run out, the nation sitting on the biggest oil puddle gets to rule the world. THAT is the US goal. Use everyboy else’s oil before using their own.

–Well, I can only speculate.

First, the US plans to establish a military government led by General Tommy Franks, at least for a couple of years:

"The head of the US military’s Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, will rule Iraq in the initial aftermath of a US invasion to overthrow President Saddam Hussein.
Administration officials briefed senators Tuesday on postwar planning, stressing that the US goal is “to liberate Iraq, not to occupy it,” and last week a US envoy told leaders of Iraqi groups opposed to Hussein about American intentions.

The senators were told that even under good circumstances, it would take two years before the military could fully transfer control to an Iraqi government. As presented, the plan recalls postwar Germany and Japan, where American military occupations paved the way for transfers of power to democratic and constitutionally backed governments."

–I would think that gaining control over Iraq’s oil reserves would be a matter of voiding existing production contracts and creating new contracts with American companies.

This should not be difficult when the country is being ruled by the US Government; they will have to pick a Iraqi puppet to head the country after we leave in order to ensure the contracts’ long-term survival.

Here is a good opinion on why.


It’s not an explanation that will satisfy anyone looking for a single cause such as “blood for oil.” Like many policy decisions, this one was the complicated and compromised product of different views and different factions within the administration. At any given point, it has contained contradictory aspects, wishful thinking and irrational fears, as well as the more conventional geopolitical calculations.

Oil is at the heart of it - but not it’s not necessarily the sole reason.

In this thread (my last post there - not sure how to link directly to it) are a few quotes I dug up from sources such as James Baker III and Dick Cheney clearly indicating that oil is at the foundation of US involvement in the Middle East, and specifically Iraq. Control of Iraq’s oil would give the US leverage against the economies of Europe and Japan, which depend far more heavily on Iraqi oil than the US does - i.e. the US would get to decide how much oil they use and how much oil everybody else gets. As others have pointed out, it would also lessen US dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries. In short, the US can considerably extend its political and economic power in a region where its main economic rivals currently have the upper hand.

But, as Michael Ignatieff spells out in his New York Times article (unfortunately it’s a pay-per-read) from January 5th of this year:

Ignatieff isn’t talking through his hat here. There’s a document called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” from the Project for the New American Century (available here) that has some interesting quotes from people like Paul Wolfowitz (currently Deputy Defense Secretary), Lewis Libby (Dick Cheney’s chief of staff), and several other people now serving in prominent positions in the Bush administration. Here’s a particularly interesting quote:

(Emphasis mine.)

In short: “We need more troops in the Gulf to make sure what we say goes.” Of course, the whole document is a blueprint for

i.e. keeping America on top with no chance of a challenge from elsewhere.

This isn’t the first time for these ideas, either. The PNAC report is more or less a direct lift from Wolfowitz’ Defense Policy Guidance, written in 1992 while he was Dick Cheney’s deputy at the Pentagon. The quote that most disgusts me, however, is this little gem:

The report was written in September 2000, even before the Bush-Gore election. It’s certainly not proof that these people knew September 11th was going to happen. But it’s damning evidence that they cynically used it as an excuse to kick the program they’d spelled out into high gear. All their rhetoric about standing united against terror (which is a reaction to previous US imperialist maneuvering) turns out to be nothing more than hot air.

To sum up: Saddam Hussein is the (very weak) pretext for seizing greater control of Iraqi oil. Controlling Iraqi oil is the first step in arrogating greater US political and economic power across the globe. That arrogation of power, alongside the stated goal of precluding the rise of a global rival, is imperialism. It’s about oil as far as Iraq is concerned, but it doesn’t stop at Baghdad.

So let me see if I understand this…

We go to a middle-east country, then by force of arms, install a government well-disposed to the United States. In return we get favorable oil drilling rights or take over the oil fields outright. That’s the scenario I think I’m hearing and reading here.

So, by this argument, we should arguably be draining the Kuwaiti oilfields dry. I mean, we went in, kicked out the Iraqi invaders, put out the flaming oilfields (thank you, Mr. Adair and all the American Taxpayers) and then…left. How much oil money did Bush Sr. and his cronies make on the first gulf war?

And another thing…
If it’s all about oil, how come the US supports just about the only country in the region with no oil? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to sell Israel down the river and start sucking up to some of these oil-glutted autocrats and despots?

“Money for oil” makes a nice tidy argument which requires very little thought.

Lots as far as I know. In the case of a war all pre-war contracts become null and void maybe explaining France, Germany and Russias (Russia speaking through France) recent NATO veto as at the moment they are the 3 countries that control the majority of the Iraqi oil contracts.

Looking for a cite but ASAIF the USA gained about 50% of all post war oil contracts in Kuwait.