Published July 1, 2008
Throughout the planning, invasion and occupation, we've been assured the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was solely for reasons of national security. Oil had nothing to do with it.
There were skeptics and naysayers and conspiracy theories, oh yes. Here are a couple of example editorials from before the Iraq invasion:
Conspiracy theories are funny things: the wackier they sound, the more likely they are to be true. The fires of September were still burning when I, among others, suggested that the Bush regime's Afghan war might have more to do with old-fashioned oil politics than bringing the Evil Ones to justice.
Moreover, the American military strategy in Afghanistan -- dropping bombs without inserting a significant number of ground troops -- all but guaranteed that Osama would live to kill another day.
So the Third Afghan War obviously isn't about fighting terrorism -- leading cynics to conclude that it must be about (yawwwwwwn!) oil. Bush and Cheney were both former oil company execs, after all, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was corporate counsel at Chevron. Unbeknownst to most Americans, oil fields dot northern Afghanistan near its border with Turkmenistan. But the real jackpot is under the Caspian Sea. Between confirmed and estimated oil reserves, Kazakhstan is destined to become the world's largest oil-producing nation, and will one day dwarf even Saudi Arabia.
That was Ted Rall writing a piece titled "Bush Fuels Oil Conspiracy Theory" on January 10, 2002, three months after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.
First, what is this war not about? It's not about terrorism (Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein's Baathists don't even like each other). It's not about weapons of mass destruction; Saddam doesn't have any significant stocks of them, or we would have heard by now. It's not about democracy, either.
No, this is a war about oil. This is a war about Bush's friends making money from oil. This is the oil president, with his oil buddies Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice. The war in Afghanistan was about oil, and Bush's friends are now busy laying a pipeline across Afghanistan, to bring out Caspian Sea oil. As an oil man, Bush understands that the USA is never going to attain energy independence, unless the Persian Gulf states become American colonies. That's why there's talk of holding Iraq's oil revenues in trust for the Iraqi people. Translation: Once we're in charge, we'll decide what price Iraq should charge for its oil (cheap), and we'll buy it all. We'll keep the money, and some day maybe we'll give it to an Iraqi puppet, as long as he behaves.
This editorial was "Bush's Oil War" by J.H. Crawford, written February 9, 2003, more than one month before the March 19, 2003 Iraq invasion.
There were those who were practically bleeding red, white and blue in 2002 and 2003 and would crucify anyone who mentioned oil along with Afghanistan or Iraq for heresy. Oil has nothing to do with it, they insisted. This is about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Beware the mushroom clouds.
So here we are in 2008 and the oil deals are ready to be doled out. Western oil companies are favored in the bidding, including Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP and Chevron. As recently as June 24, the Bush Administration insisted it was hands-off with those negotiations.
"Iraq is a sovereign country, and it can make decisions based on how it feels that it wants to move forward in its development of its oil resources," Dana Perino, White House spokeswoman insisted. "I don't think the federal government of the United States needs to get involved."
The article linked above goes on to relate that a group of Democratic senators encouraged Secretary Rice to block the oil deals so that no appearance of impropriety resulted that might further inflame anti-American sentiment.
Perino shot back, "I'm curious as to why the Democrats seem to, on the one hand, want Iraq to take over more control of their own country, but on the other hand, want to continue to meddle in their business."
You know what happens next. We find out—shocker!—the Bush administration couldn't leave well enough alone.
"We pretend [oil] is not a centerpiece of our motivation, yet we keep confirming that it is," Frederick D. Barton, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in a telephone interview. "And we undermine our own veracity by citing issues like sovereignty, when we have our hands right in the middle of it."
Myself, I'm not big on conspiracy theories. I think it's likely Oswald acted alone. I don't doubt that four planes crashed into three buildings and one field on 9/11, and they were all piloted by terrorists under the sole direction of Al Qaeda. I don't believe the Illuminati rule the world.
However, I don't think it takes a leap of logic to see an administration run by oilmen—who marched into and illegally overthrew a sovereign Middle Eastern government on trumped-up evidence—now seeing their oil-company donors set up to reap huge dividends and suspect that if this wasn't the plan all along, it was at least at the top of the hoped-for spoils of war.