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Tilting at Windmills

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September 15, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ALL LARGELY ABOUT OIL....Bob Woodward plucks a sentence from Alan Greenspan's forthcoming memoir:

Without elaborating, he writes, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Now that's a statement that could use some elaboration, isn't it? I guess Greenspan hasn't quite given up his Sphinx-like pose entirely.

(So what's Greenspan's point? I don't think he's suggesting that we invaded Iraq because we wanted to seize control of their oil fields and hand them over to ExxonMobil. More likely, he's making the unexceptional argument that we wouldn't care much about the Middle East in the first place if it didn't have all that oil. But it does, and our economy depends on it, and we long ago decided that protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest. The Iraq war, as Greenspan notes, is pretty obviously bound up in all of that.)

Kevin Drum 4:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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This article about the smart money is interesting:
…Last month the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, and that seems to have been the last straw.
Now here’s the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body…..
…what’s interesting about this deal is the fact that Mr. Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad’s disapproval, he’s essentially betting that the Iraqi government....won’t get its act together. Indeed, he’s effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.....

Kiss all that spin about drawdowns and return with success good-bye: the insider money knows better.

Posted by: Mike on September 15, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, Kevin. Middle East - oil = sub-Saharan Africa.

There's some bad people doing bad things down there, too, but you don't hear about any Bush doctrine to spread democracy there.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on September 15, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think Greenspan has been living in too rarefied an atmosphere for too long - here's another quote from Woodward:

"Not exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush presidency. . . . To my mind, Bush's collaborate-don't-confront approach was a major mistake."

Now, I suppose the "collaboration" in Greenspan's mind is with the Republican Congresses as they larded on the pork. But there's plenty Republican grumbling about Bush's complete disregard for their status and agenda too. And of course, the Democrats, well they were pond scum in Bush's eyes.

So Greenspan's pronouncements have to be regarded as coming from a very lofty and very inside-the-beltway perspective. Other snippets of quotes from his book seem to show sadness that the race-to-the-bottom globalization frenzy is perhaps running out of gas. To him, inflation (read: peoples' wages) seems to be a completely mathematical exercise, not related to human conditions.

Posted by: Greg in FL on September 15, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that the very first Kurdish oil contract under their new unilateral oil law (which the central Iraqi govt. says is illegal) goes to a Bush pal who is privy to inside info via his position on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Paul Krugman in the NYT was scathing about the deal. "What's interesting about this deal is the fact that Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be," Krugman observes. "By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad's disapproval, he's essentially betting that the Iraqi government -- which hasn't met a single one of the major benchmarks Bush laid out in January -- won't get it's act together."

"The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia," Krugman writes. "And I suspect that most people in the Bush administration -- maybe even Bush himself -- know this, too."

I have to agree with Krugman's assessment.

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on September 15, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

There are no permanent friends
There are no permanent enemies
There are only permanent interests.

Saddam went from friend (well, a little) to enemy because he was in the way of the oil.

Posted by: TJM on September 15, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

But it does, and our economy depends on it, and we long ago decided that protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest.

In other words, what is Kevin saying here - that Americans are use to luxury and the lavish lifestyle, thus propping up Monarchs like the Saudis and killing vast sums of people in Iraq to get exclusives control of oil is OKAY. And thus, It's okay that Bush lied about all the reasons we've really invade Iraq?

Does the US military members know they are fighting and dying to provide for American's luxury and lavish lifestyles? We don't ride bicycles and we don't move one spot nearer to enegry independence. Why would we have to have energy independence if Americans are willing to die for the creature comforts of few to own a Humvee or the biggest gas sucking SUV on the market if somebody kid is will to go to Iraq and die for it?

Nobodys kid is that cheap.

AND did/do families members of the fallen agree that it's okay for their son/daughter, husband/wife mother/father to die for that fact. I don't think so Kevin.

I'm sure the South thought that slavery was an economy vital interest too. I'm certainly glad that Abraham Lincoln thought otherwise.

Bush lied about this whole damn war - told Richard Clarke to lie too and say that Saddam was behind 9/11 - it was lie that Clarke was not willing to go with - and thank goodness that.

I guess you would have help Bush lie Kevin - this war is not about democracy, not about WMD as Bill Clinton lied about that too, it is about a lie. This war is about oil.

--- our economy depends on it, and we long ago decided that protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest.

We certainly DID NOT agree to that Kevin. At least not knowingly.

Your dead wrong about that Kevin - even as oil companys may tell government official this - it's not true. And Bush didn't make our economy interest better by invading Iraq - he made it worse. We were getting our oil way cheaper just buying it though Iraq's oil for food program.

The grief we cause Iraqis is 10x more than Saddam ever caused them.

And to Brian Lamb.

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

I guess Greenspan must be pretty stupid, huh? This war is about oil - it's never been about anything else. And MoveOn.org is not a bunch of stupid lefty liberals - at least not any more anymore stupid that Greenspan.

It's too bad you didn't bury any of your own children from this war Kevin cause I'm pretty sure that would have changed your whole perspective pal.


Posted by: Me_again on September 15, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Desmond on September 15, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

I was wondering about this sentence myself. I was wondering if he means it more as criticism of the Iraq war, or if he just wants people to be able to talk about the oil more openly.

Posted by: Swan on September 15, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

I still believe that acquisition of Iraqi oil was a substantive item for Cheney's Energy Task Force. I do not find it unbelievable at all that the task force supplied numerous and convincing (to themselves) arguments justifying the Iraq invasion.

Perhaps Greenspan has seen those transcripts, the perusal of which has been denied to the rest of us.

Posted by: Mudge on September 15, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Henry Kipling on September 15, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

True, oil is big deal and important but did we need to invade in order to make sure we get our oil?

50 old style Saddam dollars to the first one who comes up with a sensible answer.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on September 15, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Now the everyone knows that Bush's big benchmark of the Hydrocarbon Framework Law is latest big news item of the day. I think such news has the protential to exploded.

NOW that everyone understand WHY Bush wanted to do the surge thing - to buy time for passage of a greedy US law. I suspect a great many American military are going to want to come home now that truth is out.

Now we really understand what this damn war is all about.

Yeah, I really don't think American's military signed up this:

Most of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations were ignored by the White House, but not this one: the Bush administration immediately pushed ahead by helping to draft a radical new oil law for Iraq, which would allow companies such as Shell and BP to sign 30-year contracts in which they could keep a large share of Iraq's oil profits, amounting to tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars - unheard of in countries with as much easily accessible oil as Iraq, and a sentence to perpetual poverty in a country where 95% of government revenues come from oil. This was a proposal so wildly unpopular that even Bremer had not dared make it in the first year of occupation. Yet it was coming up now, thanks to deepening chaos. Explaining why it was justified for such a large percentage of the profits to leave Iraq, the oil companies cited the security risks. In other words, it was the disaster that made the proposed radical law possible.

Washington's timing was extremely revealing. At the point when the law was pushed forward, Iraq was facing its most profound crisis to date: the country was being torn apart by sectarian conflict with an average of 1,000 Iraqis killed every week. Saddam Hussein had just been put to death in a depraved and provocative episode. Simultaneously, Bush was unleashing his "surge" of troops in Iraq, operating with "less restricted" rules of engagement. Iraq in this period was far too volatile for the oil giants to make major investments, so there was no pressing need for a new law - except to use the chaos to bypass a public debate on the most contentious issue facing the country. Many elected Iraqi legislators said they had no idea that a new law was even being drafted, and had certainly not been included in shaping its outcome.

Time has come to not only impeach Bush and Cheney but proscute them to the full extent of law - These two did some of most heinous acts in US history and to do it, those two cook intelligence, lied about the reasons for war, mislead the UN with intent to do so. They intented to commit crime, knowingly and willfully committing them.

Those two have committed crimes against humanity and if the Republican party would save itself - I suggest they take a cold hard look at this administration because it's nothing to apspire too unless your a criminal.

Posted by: Me_again on September 15, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Once you postulate that:
No Oil = No War,
The difference between
"All" and "Largely"
becomes mute.

Posted by: Yoni on September 15, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Also the Bush administration is using the Hydrocarbon Framework bill as bogus form of "portraying" thought the American media as a means of reconciling the different Iraqi factions.

This law is NOT a "reconcilation" law at all - not for Iraqis.

"I was recently at a meeting of Iraqi MPs and asked them how many of them had seen the law. Out of 20, only one MP had seen it." According to Muttitt, if the law was passed, Iraqis "would lose out massively because they don't have the capacity at the moment to strike a good deal".

Iraq's main labour unions declared that "the privatisation of oil is a red line that may not be crossed" and, in a joint statement, condemned the law as an attempt to seize Iraq's "energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future while still under conditions of occupation". The law that was finally adopted by Iraq's cabinet in February 2007 was even worse than anticipated: it placed no limits on the amount of profits that foreign companies can take from the country and placed no specific requirements about how much or little foreign investors would partner with Iraqi companies or hire Iraqis to work in the oil fields.

Most brazenly, it excluded Iraq's elected parliamentarians from having any say in the terms for future oil contracts. Instead, it created a new body, the Federal Oil and Gas Council, which, according to the New York Times, would be advised by "a panel of oil experts from inside and outside Iraq". This unelected body, advised by unspecified foreigners, would have ultimate decision-making power on all oil matters, with the full authority to decide which contracts Iraq did and did not sign. In effect, the law called for Iraq's publicly owned oil reserves, the country's main source of revenues, to be exempted from democratic control and run instead by a powerful, wealthy oil dictatorship, which would exist alongside Iraq's broken and ineffective government.

Oh yeah, our military is over there fighting for democracy all right. What could be more democratic that remove any Iraqis say in their own natural resources and decisions that pretain to their oil.

Who knew Bush hated democracy so much - what did Bush say about opening a little "Democracy office" in Dallas???

That SOB.

Posted by: Me_again on September 15, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Milko on September 15, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq Invasion was flat out crazy. Even Peter Pace has apologized for not recognizing that Iraqis would oppose an foreign invasion. “Duh”. Occupations are resisted simply because they are occupations.

We all are floundering around try to figure out why the USA invaded Iraq. Oil but production was higher in Iraq before the invasion. So all we are left with is a flat out crazy ideology, The Shock Doctrine; the Leo Strauss and Milton Friedman followers who usurped the American federal government and it converted into a money machine for their acolytes.

Posted by: Jim S on September 15, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

"...More likely, he's making the unexceptional argument that we wouldn't care much about the Middle East in the first place if it didn't have all that oil. But it does, and our economy depends on it, and we long ago decided that protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest. The Iraq war, as Greenspan notes, is pretty obviously bound up in all of that.)"
-------

Well, "protecting our access to that oil", certainly hasn't prevented the price of crude oil and refined products from going through the roof. Not to mention the cost of that stupid occupation over there. All that cash could have bought a LOT of oil or better yet-we could be well under way towards energy independence, but NO. Defense contractors and oil companies have gotten fat off of the taxpayers and JACK SHIT has been done with regard to a real energy policy in this country. I remember a TV news clip of people being interviewed at the gas pumps a few weeks after the war was over and them complaining that gas prices didn't go down after we occupied the place-"how come?"

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 15, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Kut on September 15, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think he's suggesting that we invaded Iraq because we wanted to seize control of their oil fields and hand them over to ExxonMobil.

And yet didn't it just come out that a confidant of Bush's (Hunt?) just took control of the oil contracts with the Kurds in the north?

Of course no one's suggesting anyone would militarily overrun a resource-rich, non-threat of a free nation just to take control of those resources.

But it's funny how it always ends up that way.

Posted by: Thumb on September 15, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

More likely, he's making the unexceptional argument that we wouldn't care much about the Middle East in the first place if it didn't have all that oil.

What do you mean "we", kemosabe? The Iraq invasion was launched partly for the oil interests of *somebody*, but you'd be hard pressed to argue that somebody was the American People.

Posted by: Boronx on September 15, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's about control of oil, not access.

Posted by: Diana on September 15, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Neumann rightly points out that the oil interests did not favor the Iraq war, noting that the Left, "for all [its] addiction to 'research,'" has failed to identify particular Big Oil outfits, or other major corporations or executives, as warmongers."

I believe Greg Palast did, but their plan was changed to the point of unrecognizability by fantasists in the Pentagon and the insane Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Boronx on September 15, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Nutkins on September 15, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we just kill half the turban-heads and send the rest to work as slaves in Mexican factories, to work side-by-side with the other third-worlders we already use to ensure that Scott's Brand Toilet Paper (my favorite) continues to be sold at low, low prices at Walmart? (Although the cardboard rolls are no longer as sturdy as they used to be, thanks to Walmart's realization that a quality product is inefficient.)

My miniscule TIAA-CREF account demands that we kill and enslave Iraqis!! I must get that extra 50 cents of interest over the next 10 years!!

Posted by: Anon on September 15, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Now that's a statement that could use some elaboration, isn't it?"

It needs no elaboration whatsoever. It has been obvious to many of us that the US invasion of Iraq was all about oil way back in the 'mushroom cloud' days. I admire Greenspan for speaking the truth since no one else in DC, including Democrats, have the courage to do so.

"But it does, and our economy depends on it, and we long ago decided that protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest."

As Me Too stated, 'we' never decided any such thing. I've learned to be very careful of that 'we' pronoun these days. If US national interest involves access to the last drop of oil in the ME, then I'm afraid we're in for a very warm and unpleasant future. The money spent on the Iraq War could have been used to invest in alternative energy research and construction, putting us in a far safer and more benevolent position as a world leader.

Posted by: nepeta on September 15, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Juniper on September 15, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is right that American interest in the Middle East is largely a product of geological accident. American policy in the Middle East is also a product of the 1970s.

Every American over 40 remembers clearly the economic disruption produced by the "oil shocks" that followed the Yom Kippur War and the Iranian revolution. The inflation and sputtering economy of the 1970s had other contributing causes, but the idea that sudden spikes in the price of oil produced by political decisions in the Mideast could cause dramatic economic distress (as well as no end of political trouble) has led a generation of American government officials to make a clear path between Mideast oil and the world market for petroleum a central objective of American foreign policy.

Up to a point, this made perfect sense, not only for the United States and other oil-consuming countries but for most of the oil-producing countries as well. As long as Saudi Arabia, the country with by far the largest oil reserves, was producing well below its capacity, even the long war between Iraq and Iran couldn't disrupt world petroleum markets in a major way.

Saddam Hussein had new ambitions after his war with Iran finally ended. The United States along with many other countries in reacting to his invasion of Kuwait based on the understanding that it could lead to a situation in which the flow of oil from the Mideast to the world market could be interrupted, and the economic disruptions of the 1970s repeated. The greatly increased world demand for oil resulting from a period of explosive economic growth made the question of future access to Iraq's substantial petroleum reserves more significant by the turn of the century than it had been when lower world demand allowed Saudi Arabia by itself to cushion supply disruptions elsewhere by increasing its own production.

But something else had changed by the turn of the century, and it is if anything clearer now that Saddam Hussein has left the scene than it was a few years ago. In the 1970s the major Mideast oil states were undeveloped countries with relatively small urban elites. Oil gave them vast wealth, but they had no need to spend it all domestically. This is what gave them the capacity to disrupt oil supplies to the world market, and it isn't true any more.

Populations in the oil states, from Iran eastward to Libya, have risen greatly since the 1970s. They are much more urbanized, hence less self-reliant; they have acquired some of the infrastructure and many of the consumer tastes of the developed world, both of which require large revenue streams to service properly.

In point of fact, these and other oil-producing countries have little choice but to send what they produce to the world market. This doesn't mean that supply disruptions can't happen -- obviously, religiously motivated terrorists less invested in the the global economy can choose to make them happen, and civil disorder in major producing countries is a problem now and likely to remain so. What it does mean is that sudden, dramatic changes in the ratio of oil supply to demand resulting from political decisions in Mideast states -- the threat against which the American security infrastructure in that part of the world was designed -- are not the danger they were in the 1970s.

Because American energy security strategy has been and is today premised on an outdated understanding of the threat to the global economy doesn't mean either that oil isn't important any more. Its world price will be higher, with all that means, than it would be because Iraqi reserves cannot be tapped to the extent they could be without the security situation in that country, for example. We cannot discuss how the oil question has changed from what it was 30 years ago, though, if we don't acknowledge that it is a major reason we think about the Mideast as we do.

One consequence of our not doing so is some of the talk we hear now from President Bush's remaining supporters, to the effect that we cannot "just leave Iraq" because of how important the country and its oil are. Oil is being invoked as a talisman, which can happen sometimes when we know something is important but find ways not to talk about it -- when it finally is talked about, it can be used to spook people. This is the conclusion that follows from what Greenspan is saying in his book.

Posted by: Zathras on September 15, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

How come everyone -the inner Bush circle, the liberals, the Iraqis, and the Arabs and the other Middle Eastern citizens -- everyone but the Bush supporters knew that this was about oil?

Posted by: gregor on September 15, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, but... Greenspan's a liberal! You can't credit his words! And, and, Clinton got a blowjob! Vince Foster! 9/11!

Posted by: fishbane on September 15, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

we long ago decided that protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest.

How has our access to oil ever been impeded for any serious length of time? As long as we are willing to pay the price and it lasts, we can have oil. If some country decided not to sell to us, the market would adjust and if it didnt we could threaten to blockade them or blow up their resources. But it would never come to that. This oil excuse for our Iraqi adventure was never declared and really doesnt make any sense anyway.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O/F in 08! on September 15, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

What I meant to say...

Posted by: Greenspan on September 15, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Barry on September 15, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

An acolyte of Ayn Rand becoming a real life character representing crony capitalism in a deteriorating world she described, would be humorous if not for the damage to the economy this so-called 'objectivist' state banker has wrought.

Posted by: Brojo on September 15, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Milko and his racist sock puppets... 6.48, 7.07... this sort of vile anti-Semitic crap makes it difficult for those of us who are critical of the influence of the Israel lobby...

...This was a perfect storm. There were a number of actors with different motivations. An American footprint in the ME being prime among them. But none of it would have been possible without American hubris, a servile media and a certain lack of democratic openess. The solutions lie there.

[Good catch. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I did an IP search, and deleted the sock puppetry. --Mod]

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 15, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

An interest comment by John Dean of on Salon

As I was writing this closing section an old friend from the Nixon White House called. Now retired, he is a lifelong Republican who told me that he voted for Bush and Cheney twice, because he knows them both personally. He asked how my new book was coming, and when I told him the title, he remarked, "I'll say the government's broken." After we discussed it, he asked how I planned to end the book, since the election was still a good distance away. I told him I was contemplating ending midsentence and immediately fading to black -- the way HBO did in the final episode of the Sopranos, but that I would settle for a nice quote from him, on the record. He explained that he constantly has to bite his tongue, and the reason he does not speak out more is because one of his sons is in an important (nonpolitical) government post, and we both know that Republicans will seek revenge wherever they can find it. How about an off-the-record comment? I asked. That he agreed to.

The Republican congress has become a bunch of organized criminal thugs – a mob, or the mafia.

Posted by: Me_again on September 15, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

"This oil excuse for our Iraqi adventure was never declared and really doesnt make any sense anyway."

haha...OF COURSE it was never declared! Even superpowers aren't allowed to invade sovereign nations with 'capturing or controlling energy resources' as the casus belli.

" If some country decided not to sell to us, the market would adjust and if it didnt we could threaten to blockade them or blow up their resources."

Um, I hope China or India wouldn't mind such a strategy if 'their' oil supply was blockaded or blown up. Sheesh...

Posted by: nepeta on September 15, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Mad Mod on September 15, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's understandable that Republican supporters wear the blinders they are told to wear, but why do Democrats do it? What Bush has been saying all along is that America can't afford to let those who do not value American interests acquire the wealth that oil brings. We know that's just the excuse, that the real motivation is to give American corporations unobstructed access to energy resources (the object of Globalization) even if that means stealing the oil. We want the oil but we don't want to empower new economic and military superpowers. We can expect America's military to be used in the future to destroy the wealth that energy profits bring to our perceived enemies. Again, Bush and the neocons have been saying this all along. Why have we been so blind, deaf, and dumb about it?

Posted by: Billy on September 15, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Peak Oil rears its ugly head again.

It's not whether it's true or not, it is the uncertainty that it raises about the future of energy supplies...and with neo-con strategy of risk aversion and preservation of order, this is what you get for a policy.

http://theoildrum.com

http://energybulletin.net

learn about energy and peak oil folks, it's the next big thing.

Posted by: Quincy on September 15, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I've been going back in memory to all the stuff I read in pre-invasion days about why the US would invade Iraq. A topic in those days that I haven't thought about recently, the potentially disastrous (for the US) switch from petro-dollars to petro-euros came to mind because of Greenspan's recent statement. I did a bit of googling and came up with this piece, published today. Very, very interesting. Not only is the petro-dollars vs. petro-euros topic still very much alive but those who argue for this as the 'real' reason for the Iraq invasion foresee a forthcoming attack on Iran. Greenspan should be well-informed on this. So was his comment on oil just an attempt at public misdirection? See:

A New American Century? - Iraq and the Hidden Eurodollar Wars,Engdahl, Current Concerns, 9/17/07

Posted by: nepeta on September 15, 2007 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans"? "Democrats"? They're all just a bunch of cryptonazis with their snouts in the trough. And you're their zombie victims, driving your X-99 Amazon Tundra Adventure Vehicles down to the supermarket for a gallon of milk.

Ah, forget it, just stroll down your immaculate THX-1138 hallways and smile your medicated smiles. And remember to vote. That's not rigged, either.
Uh-uh. Nossiree.

(runs screaming into heavy traffic)

Posted by: Coe Derr on September 15, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

[if you want to make a point, learn html. Caps abuse offenses are deleted. --Mod]

Posted by: majarosh on September 16, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Sheesh, majarosh, that's not exactly readable.

Was there a point to all that?

Posted by: floppin' pauper on September 16, 2007 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Hey mod. Why are you deleting all the messages? What's your explanation?

[Not that I need to offer one to a sockpuppet troll, but sockpuppetry and overt trolling are deleted. --Mod]

Posted by: mod hater on September 16, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

See snicker-snack's post above: "Milko and his racist sock puppets... 6.48, 7.07... this sort of vile anti-Semitic crap makes it difficult for those of us who are critical of the influence of the Israel lobby..."

I assume that the moderator is deleting "vile anti-Semitic crap." Occasionally, anti-Semitic nutcases infest a few threads here and it's nice to see the moderators get on top of it immediately today.

[Thank you - but Snicker-Snack gets the credit, for alerting me to the idiocy. --Mod]

Posted by: PaulB on September 16, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Was there a point to all that?"

Nah, just the the usual jingoistic nonsense we've come to expect from 30-percenters. Of course the post he was responding to was pretty far out in left field, so the combination of the two was amusing.

Posted by: PaulB on September 16, 2007 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

PaulB: "...Of course the post he was responding to was pretty far out in left field, so the combination of the two was amusing."

Thanks PaulB. That was my point, "far out in left field" and I tried to make it amusing but it wasn't easy. BTW, if you won't/can't counter an opinion, is name-calling and condescending remarks the default position on this forum?

Posted by: MAJAROSH on September 16, 2007 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

if you won't/can't counter an opinion, is name-calling and condescending remarks the default position on this forum?

Actually it's best to cite sources and use facts, data, evidence. Beleaguering someone with an onslaught of opinionated assertions is barely a notch above name-calling. USING ALL CAPS puts it a notch below.

Posted by: Dave Howard on September 16, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

"Thanks PaulB. That was my point, 'far out in left field' and I tried to make it amusing but it wasn't easy."

It helps if you're a) naturally funny, and b) can provide something other than jingoistic nonsense, neither of which appears to apply in your case.

"BTW, if you won't/can't counter an opinion, is name-calling and condescending remarks the default position on this forum?"

ROFL... Dear heart, when the opinion consists of nothing but unsupported jingoistic assertions, devoid of logic, reason, facts, or evidence, "countering" it is not required and name-calling and condescension are clearly an appropriate response. Give me a rational argument and I'll reply in kind. Give me drivel and I'll respond with mockery.

By the way, if you wish to write a post like that again, I strongly suggest you learn a few basic HTML commands to make your post actually readable.

Italic: <i>Text you wish to be italicized</i>

Posted by: PaulB on September 16, 2007 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and for the record, majarosh, we are laughing at you, not with you.

Posted by: PaulB on September 16, 2007 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

DH,
The post I responded to was 100% opinion, void of facts, data, evidence and contained exactly zero sources. If you want to recommend the preferred method to someone, you probably should begin with Billy, as his post beleaguered all "with an onslaught of opinionated assertions."
My use of brackets and all caps was an attempt to make it easier for the reader to distinguish between Billy's words and mine. I pointed out the errors in his post, tried to help him with his writing style and attempted to add some humor to lighten the mood.
My question regarding name-calling and condescending remarks was directed to PaulB, someone I may not always agree with, but someone I thought was capable of rational discussion.
I sincerely believe that rational debate, opinion sharing, and respect concomitant to all is essential for progress in this country. Stridency is part of the problem.

Respectfully

Posted by: majarosh on September 16, 2007 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't find anything offensive about majarosh's comment. After I had figured out the 'style' I read it easily. I think Kevin must have gotten a new moderator...or else his old moderator is in a very bad mood.

As for the antisemitic poster, I agree that his/her post was crudely worded, but not necessarily 'off the wall.' (Actually I forget exactly what it said). This book review, to be found in today's edition of Asia Times, might be more acceptable?

BOOK REVIEW
That '800-pound gorilla' ...

Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States by Trita Parsi

Nothing is as it seems in the Middle East, and author Parsi sheds light on the dark, back-door wheeling and dealing among supposed enemies - Israel, Iran and the US - going back decades. The book is a timely and important read for anybody who wants push back the essentialist arguments that suggest an impending clash of ideologies. (Sep 14, '07)

http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/II15Ak01.html

Posted by: nepeta on September 16, 2007 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

"we wouldn't care much about the Middle East in the first place if it didn't have all that oil"

You don't think that all those people who want to blow us up might have something to do with it?

Someone tell Kevin that Afghanistan doesn't have any oil.

Posted by: am on September 16, 2007 at 6:09 AM | PERMALINK

"..protecting our access to that oil was an essential element of our national interest."

I want to scream when I hear this. Oil has to be sold, whoever owns it, and we always have access whether we have armed forces in the region or not.

Posted by: bob h on September 16, 2007 at 7:14 AM | PERMALINK

I want to scream when I hear this. Oil has to be sold, whoever owns it, and we always have access whether we have armed forces in the region or not.

No it doesn't.

It also doesn't have to be sold to us.

Nor does it need to be pulled out of the ground by big oil corps - it could be pulled out of the ground under government control, like Venezuela.

If you could make $100 pulling a barrel out of the ground or $200 pulling a teacup... Which would you choose? It's only because of tacit agreement that the price isn't any higher than it is.

Posted by: Crissa on September 16, 2007 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

Antonio Juhasz, an analyst for watch-dog group Oil Change International and author of
"The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."

Her site is bushagenda.net:

Iraq Oil Law
Benchmark Boogie: A Guide to the Struggle Over Iraq's Oil
Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?
Are U.S. Oil Companies Going to "Win" the Iraq War?
Oil Grab In Iraq
U.S. Oil About to "Win" Iraq War
Testimony Submitted to the Citizen’s Hearing on the Legality of US Actions in Iraq
New Oil Law to go Before Iraqi Cabinet Forgoes PSAs
The Corporate Occupation of Iraq
It's Still About Oil In Iraq



Posted by: consider wisely always on September 16, 2007 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

And more recently, on her site, updates on the economic invasion of Iraq:

Commerce Seeks Adviser for Iraq Oil Interests
Poll Highlights Disconnect Between U.S. Commanders, Iraqis
Iraq Leftists Protest Key Oil Bill
Iraq Privatization Moves Forward
IRAQ: Bechtel Meets Goals on Fewer Than Half of Its Iraq Rebuilding Projects, U.S. Study Finds
Whistleblowers Exposing Fraud in Iraq War Contracting were Imprisoned, Tortured, Fired, Demoted
The Great Iraq Swindle
What Is Holding Up the Delivery of the Long-Awaited Iraqi Oil Law?
Democrats Say Leaving Iraq Might Take Years
Oil companies mapping strategies for dynamic Iraqi situation

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 16, 2007 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! Kevin Drum covering a rich, white man's ass!

Fucking shocking, I know.

Posted by: Soullite on September 16, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

To the moderator, first: you should oughta be like the umpire in a baseball game. If anybody knows you're there, you suck. The thread isn't about you.

To Zathras, cuz your mistake is typical of confusion about how oil actually plays in the geopolitics around the Middle East: "Every American over 40 remembers clearly the economic disruption produced by the "oil shocks" that followed the Yom Kippur War and the Iranian revolution...."

What Americans generally DON'T remember, is that Nixon and Kissinger urged our ally the Shah to START the oil shocks in the spring of '73, long before Yom Kippur. This wasn't something done TO us. Raising the price of crude oil through an ally was an American initiative.

So oil doesn't play in quite the same way as the easy conspiracy theorists think.

It's worse.

Greenspan is right -- if Iraq had no oil, we wouldn't have much cared about the national security threat posed by a dictator like Saddam, so long as he had invaded, say, Burundi instead of oil-rich Kuwait, the former fishing village.

So what? That's like saying cops care more about a bank robber than a mugger. It doesn't tell you anything more than that the defense of property in which a lot of people have a stake tends to get more attention than the defense of less.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 16, 2007 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Someone tell Kevin that Afghanistan has no oil"

Yeah, sorta why we pulled our main forces out so quickly and invaded Iraq. If only derricks had been a'pumpin in Tora Bora.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 16, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

The CIA supported Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958. At that time, socialists in the Iraqi government wanted to share the oil wealth with the masses. The U.S. CIA didn't want any of that - hundreds of alleged communists were slaughtered and we didn't bat an eyelash. We continued to support Hussein through the 1980s, even when Hussein was gassing the Kurds at Hallabja. Point of fact - the Reagan Administration sold Saddam the Bell helicopters, equipped with crop sprayers, and many of the precursor chemicals that allowed him to do so.

Fast forward to the late 1990s and Saddam nationalized the oil industry and wouldn't let BP - Amoco, ExxonMobil, Shell and the other big oil companies share in the lucre. The U.S. conservatives wouldn't have any of that, and PNAC's document advocating Saddam's overthrow was published soon thereafter. We are living through the dreadful consequences of that greed-laden policy right now.

Prime Minister Mossadegh of Iran was overthrown by our CIA in 1953 for the same reason - he nationalized the Iranian oil industry and the American and British fascists would have none of that. His overthrow gave the Shah of Iran the throne again and his brutal rule led directly to the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the hatred of America by Islamic fundamentalists that redounds through history to this very day. The CIA gave Osama bin Laden his early training and funding as well. Until the U.S. absolutely stops funding brutal madmen to satisfy American corporate interests, there will never, ever be peace on this planet. Greenspan is right.

You really need to brush up on your history, Kevin.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 16, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/46099

Yes Alan. It was largely about oil and the Neocons' PNAC agenda...

Posted by: Sharon on September 16, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Like I said, Greenspan just hates America.

Posted by: Al on September 16, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Al, did your 15 minutes run out?

consider wisely alway,

Did you read Pepe Escobar's article in the Asia Times? Dated Sep 14 - Titled The Roving Eye - Behind the Anbar Myth

Can pick it up at Informed Comment this morning, or atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East?II14AK04.html

Risha's "Thugee Franchise" was being challenged by the upstart al-Q, but, of course, in an op-ed in the Oregonian yesterday, Lt Col Jonah Goldberg claimed we have never supplied weapons in al-Anbar.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 16, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

“Oil as THE REAL rationale” is a convenient and deceptive red herring for the Neocons to deflect blame for this catastrophe they have brought to the US and Iraq.

It is bullshit and deceptive to suggest that oil was the prime factor behind the ideological zeal of the war’s most key and fervent supporters and architects: Wolfowitz, Kristol, Pearle, Hyatt, Lieberman, et.al.

Perhaps a collateral benefit to get the likes of the greedy Cheney and stupid Bush cabal to jump on the train.

Posted by: dex on September 16, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

More than oil, Greenspan's book is also about the future economic havoc the Bush loons have wreaked upon the country (not in small measure by the quintillions of dollars they have and continue to throw at this idiotic war IMO). He predicts we will be paying for generations.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118978549183327730.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Posted by: Wake Up! on September 16, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it is a little more direct than that. It is not about Hunt oil making sweet-heart deals with the Kurds.

It is about Cheney's realization that the Saudis were close to reaching peak production. This would mean that they were about to lose their traditional role as swing producer in OPEC.

We all remember fondly all of the public displays of bootlicking successive U.S. administration have had to engage in, in order to placate the Saudis and convince them to keep the spigots open so as to keep the price of oil relatively low.

Once KSA goes into decline, it looked like the only country in the Middle East with vast amounts of untapped potential to increase production capacity and hence to take their place as the swing producers for the world, was Saddam's Iraq. Can you imagine, Bush and Cheney having to kiss Saddam's ass the way they regularly kiss the Saudi's asses? The idea was unthinkable. Hence the policy had to move from containment to regime change. Sooner rather than later. During Cheney's Energy task force Matt Simmon's convinced Cheney that the Saudi's were running on borrowed time and that Smart sanctions and all the gradual means of accomplishing regime change wouldn't do. There simply wasn't time.

Then, 9/11 happened and provided the most convenient of excuses. All they had to do was lie their asses off, and keep the Energy task force stuff locked up. Que Nino.

Posted by: SW on September 16, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think he's suggesting that we invaded Iraq because we wanted to seize control of their oil fields and hand them over to ExxonMobil.

...and why not? As I recall, the Neocon Iraq Fantasy went something like this:

a) Shock and Awe.
b) Flowers and Candy.
c) We split the oil 25-75 with a gracious freedomized satellite.
d) Profit.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 16, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine, Bush and Cheney having to kiss Saddam's ass the way they regularly kiss the Saudi's asses? The idea was unthinkable.
----
LOL Imagine how awkward it would be for the Bush's at dinner at the White House if they ever needed to invited him over? Good God, what embarrassment. What if he insisted on dining with that military uniform and all?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 16, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, the Third Paul.
I found this gem today at energyandcapital.com
"Are You Sure You Can Handle the Truth?
Petraeus Report Cooks the Books with Deft Kabuki Spin. Benefactor: Big Oil.
September 11, 2007
"Reading the General Petraeus report on the Iraq debacle reminded me of nothing so much as Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men yelling, "You can't handle the truth!"
"The Petraeus report goes to great lengths to paint a picture of progress in Iraq, but the truth is a far different story. As the New York Times and the Washington Post have reported, the declining number of deaths in Iraq that General Petraeus cites depends on a few accounting tricks: like not counting a death as an assassination if you're shot in the front of the head, and not counting deaths by car bombs."

"So, what are we really doing in Iraq?
"We're building and maintaining permanent military bases from which our military will ensure a near-monopoly of the world's second-largest oil reserve. All this... for a small cadre of corporate fatheads, including the top members of Bush, Inc. The American taxpayer will foot the bill for security in Iraq ($2 billion PER DAY!) to provide a stable working environment for Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Halliburton, not to mention the dozens of corporations feeding off the military spend teat.

"But this White House clearly believes you can't handle the truth.

"Well, those of us in the energy world can handle it, and here it is: because the U.S. could not tolerate the possibility that the second-largest oil bonanza on Earth might be held beyond our reach by a dictator who hated us.

"The fact is, the U.S. uses fully one-quarter of the world's oil, but we possess only about two percent of its reserves, and we rely on imports for about 60% of our consumption.
"Meanwhile, Peak Oil is either just behind us, or nearly upon us...

"Without guaranteed access to Iraq's oil, we absolutely could not maintain our military and economic dominance of the world. Vice President Cheney has known this, even spoken publicly about it, for many years. And why else would he have convened a meeting of Big Oil representatives within his first month in the White House to pore over maps of Iraq's oil fields, as if that were the top priority of the administration?

"We at EnergyAndCapital.com have prepared a full report, called "The Truth about Oil," and we're happy to share these truths with you.

"Get our new report, simply sign up for the free Energy and Capital e-Letter, a daily advisory on the fast-moving realities in the energy and oil sector, written and edited by energy and natural resources investing expert Chris Nelder."

The above is from the energyandcapital.com site.
Pretty blatant, I'd say...

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 16, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

"War for Oil?
Of course."

It is refreshing to hear this from so esteemed a character...Would be even better coming from Kissinger or best if Rummy could come clean.

Posted by: diane dreyfus on September 16, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Gates is arguing that is "not about the oil". Ok, It's about controlling WHERE THE OIL IS, Dumb-a$$

Posted by: nikolai on September 16, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Btw, Ali G will be on 60 mins tonight.

Posted by: Disputo on September 16, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

The whole world knows this has always been about controlling the oil, primarily as leverage over China and to some degree the EU.
One million Iraqi and approaching 4,000 American deaths for this... Had Greenspan told the truth earlier perhaps some lives could have been saved.

Posted by: Salmon on September 16, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why would it be "politically inconvenient" to acknowledge that "unexceptional" argument?

Posted by: Jon Marcus on September 16, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I assume that it would be 'politically inconvenient' to acknowledge that 'unexceptional' argument, even now, because it would be admitting that the US broke international law. Aggressive war for regime change or for natural resource control is illegal. Hence, the lies about WMD

"British Attorney General's Advice to Blair on Legality of Iraq War (March 7, 2003)
In his legal advice to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the legality of the Iraq war, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith describes regime change in Iraq as a disproportionate response to Saddam Hussein's alleged failure to disarm, illegal in the eyes of international law. Goldsmith stresses that in terms of legality, "regime change cannot be the objective of military action."

Posted by: nepeta on September 16, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

"The post I responded to was 100% opinion, void of facts, data, evidence and contained exactly zero sources."

LOL... Oh, the irony....

"My use of brackets and all caps was an attempt to make it easier for the reader to distinguish between Billy's words and mine."

Since you didn't even bother to apply basic formatting, your efforts made matters worse, not better. Try the blockquote or italic HTML tags and remember to press [Enter] every now and then.

"I pointed out the errors in his post"

No, actually you didn't. You simply replied with your own version of crap.

"tried to help him with his writing style"

LOL... And again, the irony....

"My question regarding name-calling and condescending remarks was directed to PaulB, someone I may not always agree with, but someone I thought was capable of rational discussion."

I am, but rational discussion requires two sides. You have yet to supply your own version. Until you do, I'll continue to use mockery and condescension.

"I sincerely believe that rational debate, opinion sharing, and respect concomitant to all is essential for progress in this country. Stridency is part of the problem"

No, ignorance is the problem. In any case, since I wasn't "strident," I'm afraid that your point is moot.

Posted by: PaulB on September 16, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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