Monday, September 17, 2007

Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL)

Alan Greenspan', in his new book "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World" reignites the issue of the objectives of the Iraq War.

He writes, in part: "The Iraq war is largely about oil,"


In an earlier thread, (fourth Comment down) I Wrote:

However, let me agree with Howard that the administration should have been more upfront with the American public about Iraq. This *is* about OIL. They should have called it "Operation Iraqi Liberation - OIL", rather than "Operation Iraqi Freedom - OIF".

Joel provided a rationale for oil as a strategic material in his Topic He wrote:

[T]here is a war between the forces of despotic theocracy and individual freedom. Oil is a strategic material which can be (and has been) used as a weapon by despots to coerce democracies. For me, 'all' means that a free worldwide market for oil is crucial'.

Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, in his new book (see LA Times story:,1,553323.story?coll=la-news-a_section) says:

"The Iraq war is largely about oil ... I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows. ... Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy."

The LA Times continues:

Greenspan clarified his remarks in an interview with the Washington Post, telling the newspaper that although securing global oil supplies was "not the administration's motive," he had presented the White House with a case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy."I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," Greenspan said. "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?,' I would say it was essential."He said that in his discussions with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, "I have never heard them basically say, 'We've got to protect the oil supplies of the world,' but that would have been my motive."Greenspan said that he made his economic argument to White House officials and that one lower-level official, whom he declined to identify, told him, "Well, unfortunately, we can't talk about oil."


Well, it turns out they WERE!

In a news conference, the text of which is still available on the WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE,, way back on March 24, 2003, Ari Fleisher, the President's Press Secretary said:

The President this morning has spoken with three foreign leaders. He began with Prime Minister Blair, where the two discussed the ongoing aspects of Operation Iraqi liberation. [Emphasis added]

Ira Glickstein


JohnS said...

If the Iraq war was soley about oil there were many other ways to acheive that goal, including taking Saddam out and removing our troops. In the post Iraq war period (after Saddam and his army were defeated)when we chose to try to convert a nation that is not ready for democracy was an egotistical act by a nation and president who consider it their duty to convert the world to democratic capitalism or capitalistic democracy if you prefer. There seemed to have been justification for Saddam's removal but little justification in spending the lives and millions trying to make Iraq something it is not prepared for and does not want.

Ira Glickstein said...

JohnS, thanks for rejoining the discussions on the Blog! We need more voices and diverse voices.

Your Comment begins: "If the Iraq war was soley about oil..."

Greenspan wrote "largely" not "soley" or "all". There is a difference. "Largely" implies 50% or more, which leaves room for some other critical contributing issues.

Had we simply "tak[en]Saddam out and remov[ed] our troops" that would have left a vacuum into which Iran and Syria and perhaps even Turkey would have gone. At the least, it would have created an immediate civil war between internal factions, with tremendous loss of (Iraqi) life. The Baathists had control of the Iraqi Army and might have slaughtered the majority Shia and put another Saddam-like dictator in control.

Prior to the war, my anti-war friends assured me that Iraq was secular and had nothing to do with fundamentalist Islam. Iraqis were perhaps the most literate Arabs and had great potential oil wealth. Therefore, the idea they were the best hope (literate, secular, well-funded) for something like Arab democracy was not that far-fetched. If they were not "ready for democracy" no Arab country is.

I do not think Bush & Co. saw it as their duty to "convert the world to democratic capitalism" at all. The talk of democracy was sincere enough, but it was mostly talked up as a fig leaf over the real reasons ("largely about oil") *and* as a tactical way to start the ball rolling for a wave of something like democracy to engulf the totalitarian (Saddam, Assad, ...), theocratic (Iran, ...) and royal plutocracy (Saudi family) in that region and, ultimately, stabilize it for the long-term future. The policy of having a "light footprint" (minimum number of "boots on the ground") was designed to make our presence look less like an occupation as well as to prove the theory of "force multipliers" and reduce US casualties. We disbanded the Iraqi Army and Baathist control to, we hoped, allow new Shia and non-Baathist Sunni leaders to emerge and take charge.

As it turned out, sadly, the Iraqis ability to cooperate and generate non-Baathist leadership was a total failure. Saddam had so effectively cowed any independent leadership and destroyed non-Baathist societal cohesiveness, that most of the leaders who did emerge were strongly religious or former Baathists or tribal, etc.

Democracy did not take hold in the US (or post-war Germany or Japan) in four years. It took decades of peace and prosperity (and in our case was punctuated by a Civil War with horrendous casualties). In retrospect, we should have followed the advice of Gen. Shinseki and others and put double the number of troops to suppress the looting rapidly. We probably should have allowed lower-level Baathists to keep their power, etc. Bush & Co. made significant mistakes.

We need to learn from our mistakes. I still believe (along with Gen. Petraeus and others) that we can slowly remove some troops and redeploy others to reduce US casualty rates and, over time (5-10 years at least) establish something like democracy over there.

Every US war death or injury is a personal tragedy for that person and their family. However, we need to keep things in perspective. We lost some 7,000 US dead taking the small islandof Iwo Jima and 13,000 taking Okinawa. Those battles lasted only weeks. Considering the US population was about half at that time, that is equivalent to 14,000 to 26,000 dead now. We lost some 400,000 US military personnel in WWII. The 4,000 lost in Iraq over four years is a terrible toll, but, by comparison, and considering the stakes, it will turn out to be worth the blood if we can salvage a somewhat stable Middle East out of it.

Ira Glickstein

JohnS said...

My principle point is that there was no strong reason to keep troops in Iraq once we were sure that there were no weapons of mass destruction unless we intended to impose our political ideas upon the Iraqi. Further, shouldn’t the nations of the area act to restrain the rise of another Saddam, rather than us? It has always seemed to me if acting in the future as we did after the first Iraqi war by removing Saddam would be more effective that remaining in Iraq. (World terrorism is another matter but even there remaining in Iraq is questionable.) That is a short devastating war to remove the government threatening us would be effective in protecting us while at the same time minimizing our cost in manpower and money. It would seem to place us in a better stance to react to other threatening nations throughout the world even if we have to repeat the war every decade or so.
Ira: At the least, it would have created an immediate civil war between internal factions, with tremendous loss of (Iraqi) life.
I agree, in as much as we can’t see the future of Iraq when our protective troops (we may leave some troops as advisors who do not actively enter into combat or policing) leave we cannot know whether the blood bath including the Iraq people killed to date will be better or worse. Would we (the US) be any worse off if Syria, Iran occupied Iraq? We can only speculate.
Ira: Democracy did not take hold in the US (or post-war Germany or Japan) in four years.
True and Germany was a Christian, developed nation. Japan was ruled by General MacArthur until A Japanese government, sponsored by us to our ideals, was capable of rule. Japan was also a developed nation although not Christian. Iraq is not comparable.
The basis of democracy lay in our constitution, so we started out with fundamental democratic principles although as you pointed out it has taken over 200 years and we are still not perfect. The main difference is that we the people wanted a democracy from the beginning. We probably would not have accepted the constitution if England imposed it on us.
If our nation was threatened, to the extent it was in either the civil war or WWII we would accept the casualties as we did in both. I’m not sure that Iraq’s American casualty count is comparable although you make a good point when we realize that we have a professional army, volunteers not draftees, who understand the risks they are taking. John