We Need the Oil, Right ? So What's the Problem ?  

Posted by Big Gav

EnergyBulletin has a good article outlining the origins of the Iraq war.

In August 1992, Dick Cheney, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney under a very different President Bush, was asked to explain why US tanks did not roll into Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. Cheney said:

"I don't think you could have done that without significant casualties... And the question in my mind is how many additional casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not that damned many... And we're not going to get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

Later, then-CEO Dick Cheney of Halliburton found himself focusing on different priorities. In the fall of 1999 he complained:

"Oil companies are expected to keep developing enough oil to offset oil depletion and also to meet new demand...So where is this oil going to come from? Governments and national oil companies are obviously in control of 90 percent of the assets... The Middle East with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies."

What had changed in the seven years between Cheney's two statements?

* The US kept importing more and more oil to meet its energy needs.
* Energy shortages drove home the need to ensure/increase energy supply.
* Oil specialists concluded that "peak oil" production was but a decade away, while demand would continue to zoom skyward.
* The men now running US policy on the Middle East appealed to President Clinton in January 1998 to overthrow Saddam Hussein or "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will be put at hazard."
* In October 1998 Congress passed and Clinton signed a bill declaring it the sense of Congress that "it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein."
* International sanctions left a debilitated Iraq with greatly weakened armed forces headed by an "evil dictator."

Shortly after George W. Bush entered the White House in January 2001, Vice President Cheney's energy task force dragged out the maps of Iraq's oil fields.

To be fair, taking over Middle East oil fields was not a new idea. In 1975 Henry Kissinger, using a pseudonym, wrote an article for Harpers titled "Seizing Arab Oil," outlining plans to do just that, preventing Arab countries from having absolute control over the modern world's most vital commodity. But in those days there was a USSR to put the brakes on such adventurism.

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