No War for Oil?


Not a whole lot of fresh news in this Associated Press story from the Washington Times about the nexus between war and oil in Iraq, but parts of it read kind of funny:
"Pentagon planners were spending long hours on a strategy for protecting the oil fields, fearing that Saddam might torch many of the 1,500 wells — as he did to Kuwaiti oil fields in 1991. Although declining to give details, one senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said planners intend to secure and protect the fields as rapidly as possible.
The options reportedly range from dispatching special forces into the Iraqi fields during the early fighting to using electronic jamming equipment to hinder a coordinated destruction of hundreds of wells. U.S. planners also hope that those who run Iraq's oil industry would balk if ordered to destroy their own wells."

Reminds me somehow of that wicked bit of parody that ran in the Brit mag Private Eye after 9/11, in which a secret memo from the "Gnomes of Zurich" lamented how 9/11 reminded us (I'm paraphrasing from memory–can't find it online anymore) "how quickly and suddenly we can lose what's most precious to us: our money."

NEXT: Iraq: A War to Make us Safe

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  1. Now, stopping Mr. Hussein from repeating his little torch-a-well trick would be a nifty thing, no? Then why act as if doing so is part of some kind of dark comedy?

    Regards / GulGnu

    -Stabil som fan!

  2. cause it’s kinda ironic that one of the top concerns of a president from Oil Country would be protecting Iraq’s oil wells, whilst he destroys the rest of the place. Protecting Iraq’s economy of oil can’t be the cause of concern if he’s gunna raze the rest of the country. For the enviroment? Won’t the greens be happy.

    It does make one wonder, doesn’t it?

  3. No, it doesn’t make one wonder at all. The oil industry has been lobbying for a lifting of the sanctions, not a war. Besides, it will be oil revenue that prevents Iraq from remaining a desolate smouldering crater for the next fifty years. Letting the fields burn won’t help anyone involved, least of all the Iraqis. If the motivation for doing so is to prevent conspiracy theorists from raising their eyebrows a bit, then that would be a gross display of irresponsibility. If you’re going to occupy a place, it’s just plain common sense to see that it’s only major source of capital isn’t ruined in the process. Sheesh.

  4. “The oil industry has been lobbying for a lifting of the sanctions, not a war”

    Well, it seems like they aren’t getting the contracts for the current oil output in Iraq. If the sanctions were lifted, the oil contracts for the additional output would probably go to the companies currently getting it. I believe those are French and Russian.

    On the other hand, if we control the output, it can be directed to Bush donors.

  5. All valid and interesting points. I can’t help but think of a far simpler way to keep those oil fields intact. Why don’t we try not invading? Hmmmmmmm…

  6. Of course they want to protect the oil fields. Why, in any conceivable scenario, would they not be worth protecting? Not only is oil valuable, but the last time the wells were torched, it was an environmental and health disaster of great and expensive proportions. Why bring this up as if it’s some brilliant “touche’!” point? There’s many good reasons to protect the fields.

    And the assertion that the oil is all that matters and “he” is just going to “destroy” the rest of the place is patently ridiculous. Please tell me you fail to notice that having Mr. Hussein, with his stated ambitions as the head of a pan-Arabic state in the Middle East, in tandem with his dangerous toybox, does not weigh heavily as a reason for the upcoming war.

    Laurie K.

  7. says the war is not so much about oil as preventing the Euro from becoming the world’s basic currency, a development which the French and Russian contracts would accelerate. US control of Iraq oil would put the dollar back on top.

  8. “Both paper and electrons” would be my guess at what our “moderate libertarian” intended to say–a mistyped word, perhaps not technically a typo. So, need for cheap shots, particularly since the guy seems more than a little reason-challenged (pun not necessarily intended, but unavoidable in any case) himself, thus sinking his own boat, as it were.

  9. Oh, christ, lighten up. I *support* the war, and I think the Pentagon planning to immediately head for the oil fields and protect them is funny.

  10. “I consider myself to be a moderate libertarian.
    I’ve been reading Reason for years, both both and electrons.”

    I consider you to be a moron.

  11. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d regard the derision of Lefty as a feather in my cap.

  12. Lefty, I have to admit, your rejoinder made me grin.

  13. I love the posts that begin “for a magazine that calls itself Reason” or “you should use reason,” as if this is the first time anyone thought to invoke the name of the rag to make some point.

    Now, Byrna claims to be a “moderate libertarian” and then makes this most libertarian of comments:

    “Call me a hawk, but I’d rather sacrifice 100 “innocent” Iraqis for 1 innocent American. And considering how many fatalities a nuke in NYC would cause, I think we’re likely to be 100 to 1 the other way.”

    I’ll leave it to readers to figure out whether “moderate libertarian” would endorse that 100 to 1 calculus.

  14. Hell, I consider myself a liberal libertarian, and I’d prefer sacrificing 100 Iraqis for 1 American. But then again, I’m probably a jingoistic SOB at heart. 🙂

  15. Can anyone name a single american Saddam has harmed?

  16. George H. W. Bush. Tried to kill him, don’t you know.

  17. Hallelujah, Sage! Finally some Reason here.

  18. “both both and electrons” is NOT a typo. I don’t know what the hell it is, but it’s not a typo.

    That’s not why that dude’s a moron, though. I think he’s an editor for the NY Sun.

  19. Here is the real reason for war..the most underreported story of the decade, IMHO

  20. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 06:40:04
    The world is a beautiful book for those who can read it.

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