American Petocracy: Bush & Cheney’s Oil & God Games in the Middle East

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Kevin Phillips, author of American Theocracy: The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, recently spoke at a New America Foundation program I chaired.
Phillips has a fascinating and important article, “American Petocracy,” that has just appeared as the cover story of The American Conservative and revisits the “war for oil” debate. And Phillips article really gets sizzling when he breaks out the biblical drivers that influenced core White House players — particularly Bush and Cheney themselves.
Here are some key excerpts:

the White House had to consider the huge religious and biblical element of the coalition that elected Bush in 2000. Newsweek polling back in 1999 found that 45 percent of American Christians believed in Armageddon and the end times, and almost as many thought that the Antichrist was already alive and on the earth. Because such beliefs concentrate among very pro-Bush evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Pentecostals, my estimate is that some 55 percent of the people who voted for Bush in 2000 would have told pollsters about believing in the end times and Armageddon.
This will strike many as an exaggeration, but the phenomenon is an important one. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals noted in 2003 that since the break-up of the USSR, “evangelicals have substituted Islam for the Soviet Union. The Muslims have become the modern-day equivalent of the Evil Empire.” According to University of Wisconsin historian Paul Boyer, by the 1990s many prophecy believers saw Saddam as the Antichrist or his forerunner, partly because Saddam was rebuilding the ancient evil city of Babylon. The Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye fictionalized the Rapture-Tribulation-Armageddon sequence so successfully that it sold a whopping 60 million copies in book and tape form. Most of the readers were Bush backers.
Politically, this confronted the White House with both a strategic dilemma and a parallel opportunity. On the plus side, the huge chunk of Bush voters would want to view the U.S. attempt to topple Saddam Hussein in terms of the war of good versus evil. Weapons of mass destruction were a prop but collateral to the larger biblical context. Invading Iraq would evoke that context because Saddam was one of the evil ones — maybe the Evil One, given his Babylon tie-in. Toppling him could aspire to biblical interpretation. Aiding Israel was also biblically vital. Bush had already carved out a related, overarching “good versus evil” posture with his heavily religious post-9/11 rhetoric.

On the enormous costs — both short term and long term — of the Iraq War:

occupied Iraq turned into a quicksand of guerrilla and sectarian rivalry. Insurgents attacked and disrupted pipelines and refineries, and truck drivers refused to transport oil from the north. During the winter of 2005-2006, Iraqi production dropped as low as 1.1 million barrels a day, and covering this production gap took almost all of OPEC’s spare capacity and forced prices higher. Dalton Garis, an economist at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, told the Associated Press in April 2006, “Iraq could be making a tremendous difference.” Instead, its shortfall is “a significant contributing factor to the high price of oil.”
American economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, in a draft paper entitled “The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years After the Beginning of the Conflict,” reached a similar but much more detailed and buttressed conclusion. Publicly, Stiglitz and Bilmes attribute $5-10 of the increased per barrel cost of oil to the mess in Iraq, but their private view seems to be that a very large portion of the now $45-per-barrel oil-price increase is attributable to Iraq.
That makes sense if one considers the hostile reactions of many of the world’s oil-producing nations to the behavior the Bush administration was exhibiting in Iraq and elsewhere. For several years prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that nation had been insisting — contrary to global policies in effect since the 1970s — that it would price its oil sales in euros, not dollars. Other major OPEC producers — Venezuela and Iran — also began talking about kindred moves and so did elements of the European community. Just after the U.S. invasion, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman wrote that the real clash was not over weapons of mass destruction but over the dollar versus the euro — “who gets to sell — and buy — Iraqi oil, and what form of currency will be used to denominate the value of the sales … yet another skirmish in a growing economic conflict.” Few others had the courage to raise the issue.
Had a U.S. triumph in Iraq enabled Washington to control and open the oil spigots in Iraq, OPEC would have been obliged to desist from talking about dropping the dollar to price oil in euros or a so-called basket of currencies. But as the various dimensions of U.S. failure became clear in 2003 and 2004, other nations — Indonesia, Malaysia, and Russia (not an OPEC member) — began to show their currency claws. Six months after the U.S. invasion, as Iraqi oil output shrank in the face of relentless sabotage of pipelines and other facilities by insurgents, even Saudi Arabia displayed its disdain, not by currency actions but by giving a big gas-development contract to French Total instead of ExxonMobil.
As of 2006, the U.S. dollar has been dropping again, with the ever more conspicuous failure of Bush administration energy policy — this year the U.S. will spend $300-350 billion on imported oil — a significant backdrop. Should these trends intensify and OPEC cease to price oil in dollars, the added burden on Americans will register in everything from home heating oil in northern winters to the prohibitive cost of long-distance driving in the remote exurbs of metropolitan commuter belts. The effects of the great bungle in Iraq may only be beginning.

And Phillips argues that the military is being used more and more as a “global oil-protection” service:

Still another oil cost-burden that the Iraqi failure imposes on the American people involves the huge and finally starting to be noticed portion of U.S. defense outlays that are undertaken to protect foreign oil supplies from disruption. Michael Klare, a leading U.S. scholar on resource wars and oil geopolitics, has tabulated oil-related tasks being assumed by the military from South America and West Africa to the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, and the Straits of Malacca.
His conclusion: the military “is being used more and more for the protection of overseas oil fields and the supply routes that connect them.
. . .Such endeavors, once largely confined to the Gulf area, are now being extended to unstable oil regions in other parts of the world. Slowly but surely, the U.S. military is being converted into a global oil-protection service.” How much do these tax-financed costs effectively add to the price of a gallon of gas or heating oil sold in the U.S. — 25 cents, 40, 85?
In sum, the energy-related price of the administration’s dishonesty and massive miscalculation in Iraq ought to be a central discussion point in this election year and again in 2008. The citizenry has to comprehend just how much is at stake and how the nation’s future has been jeopardized.

Oil is a vital resource that — despite all of the energy independence and energy security efforts (and fiascos) being discussed — America cannot easily step away from.
What is disconcerting is not only the dishonesty that Kevin Phillips highlights but the fact that despite spending enormous sums of money and enduring high human mortality costs on all sides of the current conflict in the Middle East — America’s military operations seem further away from producing stability and certainty in the oil production and supply regions of the world.
Americans are spending enormous sums and not getting the “deliverables” that such expenditures should generate. While Phillips may be right that America is in the oil supply protection racket, we are doing a horrible job even at that.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

29 comments on “American Petocracy: Bush & Cheney’s Oil & God Games in the Middle East

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  2. Pissed Off American says:

    But for the time being, I think this site is a fairly good barometer for America’s failing moral compass. It’s still there, thank God, even though its sort of wavering and melting around the edges.
    Posted by Den Valdron
    Unfortunately we are fat, seduced, brainwashed, and uninformed. We haven’t a clue what is going on, even on a superficial level. I guarantee that 98% of us are watching TV tonight and thinking that Israel is simply responding to yet another Muslim terrorist act, and that it has nothing to do with us.

    Reply

  3. Den Valdron says:

    Steve is a decent person, make no mistake about that. He’s intelligent, thoughtful and committed. On the other hand, he’s trapped on a slippery slope. He tries to reason with people who are the outliers of monstrousness, in doing so, he has to accommodate their premises. And that’s the wedge that drags him down.
    Will Steve ever degenerate to the level of Bush or Cheney? I don’t think so. Rather, I think that the framework within which Steve expresses his decency, his intelligence, his committment and moderation will simply gradually change around him until…
    Well, I guess until, at some point, there are concentration camps all over the midwest, and the official allowed range of discussion will not be to question whether these camps should exist at all, but strictly how humane they are and to what extent what forms of due process should they have.
    I could be wrong. It’s entirely possible that Steve will reach some point on the slope where he goes no further and wind up inside the concentration camp. Alternately, I could regrettably see a complete abandonment to the slide and ending up as one of the guards, in a metaphorical sense.
    But for the time being, I think this site is a fairly good barometer for America’s failing moral compass. It’s still there, thank God, even though its sort of wavering and melting around the edges.

    Reply

  4. Pissed Off American says:

    “It’s a fascinating process of moral erosion. And in fact, its one of the reasons why I watch this site, because I regard Steve Clemons ongoing adjustments as symptomatic of the moral decay of the American polity. Some day, Steve is going to find himself arguing passionately for humane conditions at American concentration camps in Arizona or Iowa.”
    You see it too, don’t you? Steve just simply refuses to believe what is right in front of his face. It isn’t that he CAN’T believe, it is that he doesn’t WANT to believe. In the REAL world his heroes are the true villains, and they make Charlie Manson look like a choir boy.

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  5. Den Valdron says:

    Sadly, elementary teacher, I fear that you are right. The Democrats have repeatedly pursued a strategy of catering or submitting to the most extreme and regressive aspects of the right wing.
    I believe that the Democratic strategy, such as it is, is that they believe that their core constituencies… blacks, latinos, women, immigrants, the poor, workers, northern states, etc. are safe. Because these are safe constituencies which will always vote Democrat and have nowhere to go, relatively little effort or attention need be paid to them.
    The bottom line is fuck ’em. There’s no need to cater to these constituencies, they’re in the pocket. A little (very little) lip service now and then, and that’s that. Consider Al Gore’s dealings with Blacks in the 2000 Presidential election. Consider the absolute lack of attention paid by the Democrats to any black issue in any meaningful way.
    The Democrats view is that not only are their core constituencies to be taken for granted, but that these constituencies in and of themselves, cannot guarantee electoral victory.
    In order to seek electoral victory, the Democrats must move beyond their core constituencies towards ‘middle of the road’ or ‘independent’ voters. Essentially, they must move right.
    The result is the Democrats are continually abandoning their values, even as the Republicans resolutely stick to their guns and become ever more extreme. The center is thus in flux and continually moves to the right.
    It’s a fascinating process of moral erosion. And in fact, its one of the reasons why I watch this site, because I regard Steve Clemons ongoing adjustments as symptomatic of the moral decay of the American polity. Some day, Steve is going to find himself arguing passionately for humane conditions at American concentration camps in Arizona or Iowa.
    Returning to the Democrats however, their electoral strategy renders them unable to take a coherent stand, forever pursuing hypothetically swing voters, and forever undercutting their principles in the pursuit of voters who will never vote for them.

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  6. elementary teacher says:

    Enjoy your posts, Mr. Valdron. Perhaps a problem is, given their voting records, that the demos are already in bed with some other wackos.
    Saw a good commentary a few days ago in Mother Jones:
    http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2006/07/democrats_peace.html

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  7. Den Valdron says:

    I have to disagree with the suggestion that the Democrats play the theocracy game. The illusion is that if Democrats become sufficient ‘holy’ and ‘theocratic’ then some of the Christian fundy nutcases will start voting for them.
    That’s just not the way it works. The Christian fundy nutcases will merely feel contempt for the Democrats who pander to them, and keep on voting the way they want. The erosion of Democratic positions in the pursuit of their votes will simply enable their agenda.
    I’m sorry, but frankly, I believe that the Earth is Round (as opposed to having four corners like the Bible says), that evolution took place and the planet is billions of years old (rather than 7 days creation four thousand years ago), that women have a right to choose what happens to their bodies, that slavery is bad, that tolerance is good, and that people who don’t believe in the exact same god as I do still have a right to their faith.
    I’d rather that the Democrats did not get into bed with these wacky bastards.

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  8. susan says:

    At the end of December, Sven Arild Andersen, director of the Oslo bourse, announced he was fed up with depending on the London oil bourse trading oil in dollars. Norway, a major oil producer, selling most of its oil into euro countries in the EU, he said, should set up its own oil bourse and trade its oil in euros. Will Norway – a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – become the next target for the wrath of the Pentagon?
    I have read that is really does not matter what currency oil is traded for. What matters is how the oil earnings are expended.

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  9. Pissed Off American says:

    “The Democrats cannot exploit this mentality to win these votes unless they change the message. For instance the Democrats could argue that Jesus’s return would be accelerated if we left the Middle East. This statement is based on Bible Teachings that basically say as soon as man trys to bring about or influence God’s predictions that’s when the world goes bad. The Bible is filled with these teachings, but no one preaches those teachings anymore.
    The Democrats do not know how to fight fire with brimstone.”
    This is NOT a theocracy, nor do I believe it will become one. It is asinine to suggest that we counter bullshit with bullshit. The hard core Christian Right IS NOT a majority in this country. The problem is, because of their religious groupings aqnd gatherings, they are a BLOC of people that have already PROVEN that they are subceptable to swallowing any sort of ridiculous crap that is cast thier way. You know, no evolution, seven days, all that crazy horseshit.
    The Dems need to stay on point, or I should say GET on point. They need to pursue enlightening the American public to the extent of the CRIMES of this administration, and they need to speak in one voice. They DO NOT need to get involved in any mumbo jumbo bullshit about Jesus or the religious significance of the ME.
    God doesn’t condone invasions and murder justified by lies, sound bombs, sodomization, torture, forced starvation or oppression. If you are going to throw a message at Christianity and its adherants, that alone would suffice.
    Pandering to the Christian Right is the PROBLEM, not the solution.
    You want to win an election in THIS day and time??? Tell the truth, and EDUCATE the American public as to what is REALLY going on.

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  10. OleHippieChick says:

    Oh, please. Mission accomplished to keep Iraqi oil “deliverables” OFF the market and Bu$hCo’s oiligarchy fat and happy with highest-ever prices.

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  11. Greg Hunter says:

    Robert Wilson – I agree with you at a surficial level most christians will not discuss the nuances of Middle East politics, because they are not published in their corporate paper. However, the Middle East Card means only one thing to them, make Israel whole and Jesus is back to fix everything. From a political perspective, that is all they have to know.
    The Democrats cannot exploit this mentality to win these votes unless they change the message. For instance the Democrats could argue that Jesus’s return would be accelerated if we left the Middle East. This statement is based on Bible Teachings that basically say as soon as man trys to bring about or influence God’s predictions that’s when the world goes bad. The Bible is filled with these teachings, but no one preaches those teachings anymore.
    The Democrats do not know how to fight fire with brimstone.
    PS I have my horse picked out, but if it comes to that I am going to have to kill a lot of people to keep it. ala Collapse by Jared Diamond.

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  12. Pissed Off American says:

    Robert is the local Kool-aid vendor.

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  13. Den Valdron says:

    An ‘immediate or future nuclear threat’? Don’t make me laugh. Iraq’s nukleer program was DOA, it was not an immediate or forseeable threat. You’re still swallowing lies that were exploding as they were being uttered, Robert.
    You might as well say that Iraq was invaded because Bill Clinton had secret deals with Saddam Hussein for a pipeline of arab pussy. LOL

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  14. Ben says:

    I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service in the country’s most agile military force, the Marines. I served in all ranks from second Lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
    I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
    Thus I helped make Mexico, and especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the raping of half-a-dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers and Co. in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
    During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotion. Looking back on it, I feel that I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three city districts. The Marines operated on three continents.
    — Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was at the time of his death the most decorated U.S. Marine in history. He was twice the recipient of the Medal of Honor, one of only nineteen to be so honored.

    Reply

  15. Linda says:

    I strongly recommend the book, Crude Politics: How Bush’s Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism by Paul Sperry that was published in September, 2003 Here’s the link on Amazon.com to more about it, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0785262717/sr=1-2/qid=1152762065/ref=sr_1_2/103-4934449-8514262?ie=UTF8&s=books
    The remarkable thing about this book is that Paul Sperry is Washington Bureau Chief of WorldNetDaily.com that is a very conservative media outlet and was a Hoover Institution media fellow. The book is very well documented and very persuasive.

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  16. Robert Morrow says:

    Unlike most people on this board I mix with right wingers and occasionally fundamentalist Christian Republicans. And very few of them run around saying let’s go take over the Middle East because the endtimes are coming and we can perhaps hasten Armageddan. They would rather stop abortion and “gay” marriage, whatever that is.
    The neocons and Bush invaded Iraq for 2 reasons: 1) to forestall and immediate or future nuclear threat to the USA 2) remove Saddam who had proven himself is a destablizing force to the world’s, more importantly Americas’, oil supply.
    Kevin Phillips has this fundamentalist Christian hair up his butt, and while interesting, he pushes his theories way too far.

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  17. microveldt says:

    I prefer the neologism “petrosexuals” for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.

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  18. Carroll says:

    Oh BTW…Kiplingers has a spread on where Cheney has invested his millions..25 million in European bonds and another 25 or so in inflation protected US bonds….
    Meaning Cheney knows the dollar is going down…while inflation goes up in the US.
    As usual follow the money.

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  19. Carroll says:

    What Phillips says is true.
    All of us Sherlocking around for Bush’s motives before we invaded Iraq saw plenty of evidence, that the move to switch to the euro was growing. The Economist, the Finanical Times, Stratfor and numerous other publications carried articles about that being “one” of the motivations in the US moving into the ME.
    I don’t think it was the brain fart of the oil corps to tak eover Iraq oil fields, if you read what their executives were saying …that it would not be profitable for them, considering the risk, that they prefer to work with whatever goverment or nation instead of sinking billions into owning the venture and then risking having their ownership nationalized or snatched out from under them in the next coup or regime or goverment change.
    I do see how controling the supply in Iraq would have been in the adm’s mind, not the oil companies, that controllling Iraq would be a way to stick a finger in the euro dam in terms of cost…..but the only other thing I can see related directly to controlling the oil is that we know israel wanted a pipeline from Iraq and the US probably did also… because the US is still on the hook for supplying oil to Israel in the old 1974 US-Israel Memo of Understanding. That obligates the US to supply Israel from our own reserves in the event they can’t secure their own needs. In fact sevral months back the pentagon arranged a grant contract for the sale of fuel to Israel from the Aramco..(sp) or whatever the name of the big refinery in Texas is….so with us on the hook for Israel as well as our own needs and the euro gaining ground as the oil currency and the esculating cost already…putting Israel into the pipline would have relieved some pressure on the US supply.
    All I can say is get a horse everyone. If they throw the antichrist in Iran to the zionist cult and evangelical whackos here in the US…..you will need one.

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  20. Joe Shmoe says:

    Don’t forget that Iran too has been planning for quite a while now to switch to Euros for its oil. Seems The Iranian Oil Bourse is scheduled to open in September. (http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_16543.shtml) Excerpt:
    “The building that will house the oil bourse has reportedly already been purchased in the southern Iranian island of Kish in Persian Gulf.
    Petrochemical and oil-related products will be made available to customers in the first phase but the volume of the shares to be traded is not yet clear, the official told.
    Economics and Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari said last April that the issue had already been agreed upon and that the oil ministry had given the go-ahead for the opening of the bourse.
    The exchange will have a positive impact on oil sales, not only in Iran but in the wider Persian Gulf region and is slated to replace the current dollar-based oil exchange with one based on the euro, he said. ”
    Personally, I believe the Oil bourse has been planned for more than the one year that the article mentions. My friends in Europe told me they had heard of such a plan in the news several years ago.
    This further strengthens the US’s reason to undermine the ‘petro euro’ efforts. Seems what they’re worried about is not Iran developing the A bomb…

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  21. 00 says:

    I wonder, back in the day Nixon wanted to have hundreds of nuclear reactors built in the USA, thus limiteding our demand on foriegn oil, do you think that it was the petrocrats who was truly responsible for his demise?
    Or here is one, maybe this war was fought to cause a rise in oil prices in order to make coal base liquid fuels more reasonable, you know how the FRWs are bent on destroying the enviroment and if they can make a buck while they are at it, why not?
    Or here is even a better one, it is not about oil at all, but the ability for us to set up for an invasion of Iran, lets face we do seem to have them surrounded, and you know how muchs those Jews would love that, I mean Neocons, Wink-Wink.

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  22. John Wilson says:

    Divine bovine!
    Thanks a heap for buttressing every fear I’ve had. I’ve been
    saying to myself “That is so obviously stupid, it can not be true”.
    It now seems that it is not my mere pessimism at work
    –but more than likely.
    A glimmer of hope now rests in the GOP
    losing control of the house.
    …and that aint a ‘slam dunk’
    I’m glad I’m old (78)…’cause I think
    we are in for serious decline, not just in the U.S…
    Thanks a heap for cheering me up 🙁

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  23. Pissed Off American says:

    “The War was about oil in the sense that the US was seeking full political and economic control of a key strategic resource… Iraq’s oil.”
    Bingo. And thats when it all fell apart for them, when Sistani got wind of the binding provisions we were implanting in Iraq’s “interim” constitution, that would have made the privatization of the Iraqi oil assets irrevocable.
    It constantly amazes me that we keep acting as though there is no evidence by which we can draw EXACT conclusions as to what occurred in Iraq. And THAT is the fault of these corporate whores that have completely ignored the obligations and responsibilities that a Fourth Estate has to the citizens of what is purported to be a Democracy. Our media has completely failed us, purposely, and the result is an American citizenry that doesn’t know jack shit about reality, despite the fact that reality is easily researched, easily proven, and easily portrayed.

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  24. Den Valdron says:

    Oh hell, not this bullshit again.
    Look, the war was about oil. But it wasn’t about oil in the dishonestly simplified view of GI’s going over there and filling up barrels and buckets and water canteens with as much oil as they can carry and then staggering away.
    The War was about oil in the sense that the US was seeking full political and economic control of a key strategic resource… Iraq’s oil.
    Further, the war was about oil in the sense that the US could then leverage its control over Iraq and Iraq’s oil to disrupt OPEC and end the Cartel as an effective political or economic force.
    The war was about oil in the sense that it was intended to consolidate and extend US strategic domination and control over the Persian Gulf, the largest exportable oil supply in the world.
    The war was about oil in the sense that control over Iraq’s oil, and indirect control over the Persian Gulf, without the meddling of Opec, would give the United States control over the world economy, and in particular, control over the economies of rivals such as China, India, Japan and Europe.
    Now, how hard is that to understand? I’m asking.
    It’s very simple. It was a bold and boneheaded move to gain control of a key amount of a key strategic resource in a key strategic location that would magnify that influence. It’s world domination 101.
    Ideologically, it was also to privatize Iraq’s oil fields and oil economy, and return it firmly to the control of American companies. The fact that many of these oil companies did business differently cuts no ice with ideologues who had their own ideas how oil should be owned and parcelled out.
    It can also be argued that the war was about oil in the sense that it was triggered or encouraged by Saddam’s shift of oil revenues to Eurodollars rather than dollars. A large part of the US cash reserve is held as petro-dollars, and any large decline in this, any large shift in oil transactions from dollars to other forms of currency might trigger a fatal run on currency and shake or shatter the US economy. It is argued that the fatal decision which made invasion imperative was Saddam’s switch from Dollars to Euros, as this directly imperilled the entire US fiscal structure.
    The fact that the effort to loot the damned country has turned out badly in so many ways does not change the fact that the WAR WAS ABOUT OIL, FIRST LAST AND ALWAYS, TOP TO BOTTOM, OIL, OIL AND NOTHING BUT OIL.
    As a cold joke, the battle plan was named Operation Iraq Liberation (O.I.L.). Come on. That’s not coincidence, that’s someone’s finely honed sense of irony.

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  25. Edward Furey says:

    Why does the U.S. military have to protect the oil trade anyway? In the decade leading up to 2003, the military was the enforcer, preventing Saddam from selling his oil in the face of a U.S. embargo. Similarly, the plan for “dealing with” Iran also seems to involve an embargo at some point.
    There seems to be no reluctance on the part of oil producers of virtue or villainy to sell us their oil. U.S. policy seems to be devoted less to “protecting the flow of oil to the West” than to enforcing selective interruptions of that flow. That is, keeping people who want to sell us their oil from selling us their oil.
    As a policy, it’s almost complete nonsense.

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  26. Apocalyptic Applepusher says:

    The oil will burn by the wayside as Israel wages Middle East World War III. Hold on to your boots, duck, and cover. This insanity couldn’t be about oil. Oil is conflagrated so quickly. Mr. Phillips makes good points. Wisdom however, seems a mite late. Patience? Hardly. Will John Bolton get a promotion for Israel cranking up the war machine?

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  27. zczc says:

    I’m all ears and ready to believe, but I found it difficult to find the precise argument in Phillips’ article. Instead of just giving his case, he seems to meander through points that don’t seem directly related. E.g. Blair says
    “There is no way whatever that if oil were the issue, it wouldn’t be simpler to cut a deal with Saddam Hussein.”
    Phillips responds that this is “horse manure.” But he doesn’t argue the point. He does say that “polls of ordinary citizens” throughout the world show that “people thought the invasion was about oil” — but sure this is not itself an argument for thinking that people are right in this belief? People believe lots of wrong things — as Phillips himself emphasizes in discussing the prevelance of belief in the end times.
    In particular, I didn’t understand why American oil companies were supposed to benefit from lower oil prices — don’t they seem to be benefiting in extreme and obscene ways right now from higher oil prices resulting from Bush’s screw ups in Iraq? (Maybe that is the conspiracy — Bush wants to screw things up in Iraq to help the oil industry? It certainly would explain the administrations inability to get anything right.)
    And why wouldn’t the oil companies have been perfectly happy with a deal with Saddam, when it comes to access to oil and profit???

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  28. Matthew says:

    Great post. Did Phillips address directly the contradiction of oil dependency and End-Times theology? I wonder how much longer even Saudi Arabia can maintain a relationship with us if our Fundamentalists continue to portray them, and other Arabs, as the new Soviet Union.

    Reply

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