September 15, 2011.
Way back then, the signs out on the streets read: “No Blood for Oil,” “How did USA’s oil get under Iraq’s sand?” and “Don’t trade lives for oil!” Such homemade placards, carried by deluded antiwar protesters in enormous demonstrations before the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq in March 2003, were typical — and typically dismissible. Oil? Don’t be silly!
True, Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke admiringly about Iraq “floating on a sea of oil,” but that was just a slip of the tongue. President Bush was so much more cautious. Despite his years in the energy business and those of his vice-president (not to speak of the double-hulled tanker that had been named after his national security advisor while she was on the board of Chevron), he almost never even mentioned oil. When he did, he didn’t call it “oil,” but Iraq’s “patrimony.”
Back then, of course, everyone who mattered knew that whatever the invasion of Iraq was about — freedom, possible mushroom clouds rising over U.S. cities or biological and chemical attacks on them, the felling of a monster dictator — it certainly wasn’t about oil. An oil war? How crude (so to speak), even if Iraq, by utter coincidence, happened to be located in the oil heartlands of the planet.
America and Oil
By Michael T. Klare
America and Oil. It’s like bacon and eggs, Batman and Robin. As the old song lyric went, you can’t have one without the other. Once upon a time, it was also a surefire formula for national greatness and global preeminence. Now, it’s a guarantee of a trip to hell in a hand basket. The Chinese know it. Does Washington?
America’s rise to economic and military supremacy was fueled in no small measure by its control over the world’s supply of oil. Oil powered the country’s first giant corporations, ensured success in World War II, and underlay the great economic boom of the postwar period. Even in an era of nuclear weapons, it was the global deployment of oil-powered ships, helicopters, planes, tanks, and missiles that sustained America’s superpower status during and after the Cold War. It should come as no surprise, then, that the country’s current economic and military decline coincides with the relative decline of oil as a major source of energy.
If you want proof of that economic decline, just check out the way America’s share of the world’s gross domestic product has been steadily dropping, while its once-powerhouse economy now appears incapable of generating forward momentum. In its place, robust upstarts like China and India are posting annual growth rates of 8% to 10%. When combined with the growing technological prowess of those countries, the present figures are surely just precursors to a continuing erosion of America’s global economic clout.