Iraq is not about oil as a commodity

Iraq is about oil as an instrument of strategic control. The rhetoric leading up to the invasion of Iraq is the public justification for our presence in Iraq. In other words, whenever anyone asks why we’re there we trot out the story of the great dictator Saddam Hussein and how we liberated a nation from the grip of a brutal tyrant. This conceals the main benefit of our presence in the mideast, the control of oil supplies. We now have nominal control over the first and second largest proven reserves of petroleum in the world. There was a fantastic article in the Washington Post today: Big Shift in China’s Oil Policy:

Through cultivation of Saddam Hussein’s government, China sought to develop some of Iraq’s more promising reserves. Beijing advocated lifting the United Nations sanctions that prevented investment in Iraq’s oil patch and limited sales of its production.

Then the United States went to war in Iraq in 2003, wiping out China’s stakes. The war and its aftermath have reshaped China’s basic conception of the geopolitics of oil and added urgency to its mission to lessen dependence on Middle East supplies. It has reinforced China’s fears that it is locked in a zero-sum contest for energy with the world’s lone superpower, prompting Beijing to intensify its search for new sources, international relations and energy experts say.

Such fears involve Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by China. The United States has pledged to help Taiwan should China attack. Officials in Beijing envision being cut off from energy supplies by the U.S. Navy in the event of war.

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