It remains very important for Zionists to find some reason for the unpopular attack on Iraq other than the only obvious one. The ‘war for oil’ crowd is braying, with the draft Iraqi oil law being the latest supposed evidence of the oily background to war. This is nonsense, of course, but popular nonsense as it suits both the Zionists and the Leninist academics, who see it as backing up their usual views of Empire. I want to write about this nonsense, but today I want to write about Greg Palast’s latest version of the Israel-protection theory. Palest, to his credit, doesn’t try to snow us by claiming that the war was about access to oil, or even imperial control of strategic resources. He recognizes the obvious (something the oil companies knew prior to the war, but something no one else will admit): there’s no oil to get or control, and the war is the reason the oil is unavailable, and will be unavailable for the foreseeable future.
Palast’s new alternative theory makes lemonade out of the lemons of no oil by claiming that the point of the war was to remove Iraqi oil from the world supply, thus leading to increased oil prices and massive oil company profits. He turns the ‘war for oil’ thesis on its head, and makes it a ‘war for no oil’. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds, and has the great advantage of actually paying attention to the fact that the completely predictable result of the American attack and occupation would be a civil war and insurgency which would remove almost all Iraqi oil from the world market. There’s only one tiny detail wrong with the thesis. The oil embargo. Iraq was already under a largely successful oil embargo. There were big leaks in it, as Saddam was able to smuggle significant amounts of oil out of the country. However, the Americans could easily have stopped these leaks. The only reason they didn’t was that Republicans were making money off the illegal oil trade, and American allies Turkey and Jordan requested that the oil be allowed to continue to be trucked over their respective borders. If the whole point of the exercise was merely to remove Iraqi oil from the world markets, and thus force up the price, all the Americans had to do was enforce the embargo, and make it clear that Iraqi oil was going to stay off the world market. Why would the Americans want to spend a trillion or two dollars to accomplish what they could have done for a tiny fraction of that (not to mention the relatively unimportant fact that no Americans would have died)?