The New York Times reports that crude oil output in Iraq is “soaring” and that Baghdad has expressed the goal of having the capability to produce 10 million barrels a day by 2017.
But of all the American oil companies, only Exxon has any significant contracts to exploit petroleum resources. The fact that the fields bid on by Exxon lie in the Kurdish section of Iraq and were not approved by the central government angered Baghdad who has forbidden the company to bid on other, more lucrative contracts.
This raises the question: What happened to all that oil that anti-war leftists insisted was the reason we went to war in Iraq in the first place? What about “No Blood for Oil”?
The slogan “No Blood for Oil” has been an anti-war shibboleth since the 1991 Gulf War. Like most liberal jargon, it is meaningless in any other context except as shorthand for American imperialism and capitalist exploitation.
In actuality, there are few things that are worth shedding blood over more than oil — specifically, cheap oil. But when anti-war protestors chant that slogan, they are unconcerned about the reality that oil is vital to life and prosperity in the United States. Instead, the catchphrase is used to evoke anger, implying that oil is important only to oil companies who profit from selling it, and to US politicians who do the bidding of the petroleum giants in going to war to benefit the companies.
At the height of anti-war hysteria in 2003-04, there was a weird paranoia from the left about why we invaded Iraq. There were “Cheney’s oil maps” that purported to show how we would divvy up Iraq oil among American oil companies (maps for Saudi Arabia and the UAE were also part of Cheney’s grand scheme). The maps, released as a result of an FOIA request from Judicial Watch, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”
One would hope the American government had such maps — not to pinpoint the location of oil fields to take over as the left imagined, but as a necessary store of information that any government interested in Iraqi oil production would have. Scott Thompson, writing in crackpotLyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review, saw it differently:
Vice President Dick Cheney has been plotting the conquest of Iraq since he was Secretary of Defense in President George H.W. Bush’s Administration—a plan then considered insane aggression. Moreover, on July 17, 2003, Judicial Watch announced that Cheney’s Energy Task Force had developed a map of Iraq dated March 2001, as well as maps of the neighboring United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Saudi Arabia, which show that Cheney knew precisely how much the conquest of Iraq would be worth.
Lest anyone think this was an isolated interpretation of “Cheney’s maps,” a simple Google search reveals nearly 5 million results for “Cheney oil maps.”
Then there was the even weirder conspiracy theory advanced in Michael Moore’s fantasy/documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 that we went to war in Afghanistan not to oust the Taliban and kill Osama bin Laden, but to secure access for oil companies to the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. The fact that the Taliban was enabling mass murderer bin Laden by allowing him to live and train his terrorists in their country after the horror of 9/11 apparently wasn’t enough of a reason to go to war for Moore and his paranoid followers. They saw the evil, grasping hands of oil companies wanting to profit from the natural gas pipeline that would transit through southern Afghanistan. President Bush, being a former oil company executive (he also owned the Texas Rangers baseball team at one time but strangely, Moore didn’t accuse the president of wanting to establish a pro franchise in Kabul), wanted to do his former colleagues in the industry a favor and throw out the Taliban who we broke off negotiations with after the African embassy bombings.
To date, the pipeline has barely started and there have been no contracts let on the Afghan portion of the project. Michael Moore continues to push this conspiracy theory despite the fact that for all intents and purposes, the pipeline is a mirage.
But if we went to war for oil, what happened along the way that caused all that crude to slip through the fingers of the evil oil companies?
Something called “Iraqi sovereignty” intervened to thwart American imperialism. But this explanation isn’t any good because the left has been saying since the first post-invasion Iraqi government was voted into office that Baghdad is a “puppet” of the US. One would think puppets would do the bidding of their puppet masters.
Indeed, the most recent government auction of oil leases didn’t feature a single American company, says the New York Times. Is it because there aren’t enough American troops to scare the Iraqis into doing our bidding?
The US firms tried going north to Kurdistan where they were welcome. But that made them anathema in the south. American oil companies are now being punished by Baghdad for daring to develop oil resources in the Kurdish regions.
Puppets “punishing” their puppet masters? Something is terribly wrong with the left’s interpretation of history. When they decide what it is, I’m sure they’ll let us know.
Iraq has proved that it is a sovereign nation capable of making its own policies and decisions. Of course, this singular fact doesn’t jibe with the liberal narrative that Iraq is a tool of American policy and grabbing Iraqi oil wealth was the primary reason we invaded.
American oil companies will no doubt share in Iraq’s oil wealth eventually. Our majors are among the most technologically advanced oil companies in the world and have proven themselves in every kind of terrain, on land and sea. But Iraq has internationalized the leasing process as theNew York Times reports:
Exxon Mobil has by far the largest stake of any American company in Iraq, but most of the major players are European and Asian, like Lukoil and Gazprom from Russia, and Chinese companies like China National Petroleum and China National Offshore Oil Corporation.
None of those nations sent troops to Iraq, and were, in fact, major critics of America’s invasion and occupation. It throws the entire “No Blood for Oil” meme into a cocked hat when you realize that the winners in the Iraqi oil derby – after the Iraqi government and people — are from countries much admired by the left, and who had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq’s liberation or its continuing transition to a democratic state.
Funny we don’t hear any protests from the left against Russian imperialism or capitalist exploitation by China.
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