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.