Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change. The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms. – UK Independent
Dominant Social Theme: Capitalism always seeks to exploit the worker and is always expansive. Wars are always those of exploitation.
Free-Market Analysis: The dominant social theme that Anglo-American wars are primarily aimed at exploiting raw materials is being trotted out again. While Britain has been engaged in an extensive post-mortem of the Iraqi war called the Chilcot Inquiry, these secret documents were not released as part of that effort but were gathered by "oil campaigner" Greg Muttitt under Britain's freedom-of-information act.
No. All is not as it appears. There are several undercurrents at work. The US has not completed in the action in Libya, but now it is increasingly pressuring Syria, which is a close ally of Iran, obviously a target of Western R2P concern as well. But the ultimate prize is China. China is to be yet another enemy of Western democracy, albeit perhaps more of a strategic and economic enemy. The competition will be waged ostensibly for energy resources and will be greatly facilitated if China does become the world’s pre-eminent economy by the middle 2000s.
One can see the maneuvering even now, the obvious flanking of China on “the great chessboard” by the US military-industrial complex. There is a working relationship between the great powers in our view but this does not preclude a military competition as well. And obvious military maneuvers also add credibility to the supposedly enmity felt and expressed from the top down.
These are all sub-dominant social themes, fear-based promotions designed to show Western masses the fragility of the world and the need for government military power. The same goes for the war-for-oil meme. This is a kind of reversal of the previous sub-dominant themes but it arrives at the same place. Government military power can be a great force for good but only if it is in proper hands and the private sector – rapacious and violent – is closely watched and controlled. Military power in the hand of Western regulatory democracies is the Greatest Good, but it must be restricted to the technocratic military class or it will rage out of control …
The above is nonsense of course but the memes keep getting repeated. It is a form of mind control, as military power (force) is a primary tool of Western “democracies” that actually have much in common with the 20th century’s more authoritarian societies (think Japan, Italy and even pre-war Germany). There is the same emphasis on unquestioning patriotism, on creating with the larger government endlessly elaborated command and control facilities aimed at domestic populations and, above all, an elaborate thematic fiction involving the way society is supposed to work. This informs every aspect of society, from employment to romantic relations to diplomacy and war.
This is where the war-for-oil meme comes in. The press will play up the BP documents endlessly because they make great fodder for the perceptions that Western elites want to confirm: All wars, certainly the smaller ones, are those of Western imperialism with the goal of raw material exploitation. This removes the onus of war from the government itself, which is seen suddenly as a passive, put-upon actor. (Without evil corporations, government would be a force for good.)
It also obscures the real mechanics having to do with a small, familial power elite that stands BEHIND government and is waging a war not for resources, not for military superiority, not to reconfigure the great chess board but to, in a sense, RUN THE WORLD. The Anglo-American elites will do anything and everything they can to obscure this fact!
The war-for-oil meme is attractive, of course, which is one reason the elites cultivated it historically and recycle it endlessly. It is part of a larger Marxist or socialist worldview (also promoted by the elites in decades and centuries past) that the problems in the world are caused by greedy capitalist enterprises intent on exploiting the developing world and will use merciless military force to do so.
The memos have ignited the debate once again, just as they should. The media will no doubt seize on the story and keep it going, especially if there are new revelations. The minutes of the meetings make juicy copy and show clearly that public statements by politicians and oil company execs were contradicted by private discussions. Of course, the context is never made clear (that the decision to go to war had likely been made already) or that the concerns of the oil companies were ancillary at best. Britain had gotten along without actually owning Iraqi oilfields in the past and presumably could have continued to have done so.
Nonetheless, the denials were emphatic at the time, indicative of strong sensitivity among the parties involved. In March 2003, Shell apparently issued several strongly worded statements that there had been discussions with high-level British officials about oil. BP did the same, denying any strategic interest, while then-Prime Minister Tony Blair made statements claiming that oil considerations were not part of the larger, strategic and military equation.
At least five meetings took place between British officials and oil companies in late 2002 and these eventually resulted, post invasion, in the signing of 20-year contracts that covered, according to the Independent, "half of Iraq's reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq."
Iraq is now producing at a rate of 2.7 million barrels a day, the Independent reports, and this is seen as vindication for those who suspected the invasion had never been about anything but oil. The researcher Muttitt, who has written a book about the oil and the Iraq war, is emphatic about the connections. Lady Symons, 59, meanwhile went on to act as an unpaid adviser to Libya's National Economic Development Board. BP and Shell have no comment, the Independent reports.
Of course, why should they? The executives of these giant oil companies and others were certainly acting in their own best interests and that of their shareholders in trying to secure post-war resources, if it should come to that. But the implication that the war was driven specifically by an impulse to provide contracts to oil giants simply doesn't make sense. Nations go to war for numerous reasons but securing lucrative franchises for this or that multinational is probably not among them.
In the case of what is occurring today, we can certainly see that there are forces at work above and beyond any specific company or resources. In fact, last year when the Pentagon was feeling a good deal of pressure to disengage from Afghanistan, Pentagon officials suddenly discovered old Russian maps that show something close to US$1 trillion in rare earth minerals, coal and oil in Afghanistan.
The implication was that Afghanistan was too valuable to abandon after so much time and effort, but in fact the suddenly discovered resources were evidently and obviously a distraction. China, for instance, has been invited in by the US to exploit certain Afghan energy resources and if the US were really so concerned about the resources one would think that the US itself would be busy exploiting them. In fact, the US is not. The US is experiencing nothing but a financial outflow from its Afghan venture. The total cost is somewhere near US$1 trillion and climbing. And that does not count the cost of taking care of the many injured that are maimed for life.
The idea that the great Western powers are attacking the Middle East over oil or other natural resources doesn't make sense on a number of levels. Egypt and Tunisia – both targets of CIA and state-department "color revolutions" are not oil-rich within the larger context of Middle Eastern oil resources. And if one goes back in time to the history of other Western – US – wars, one finds extensive involvement in both Korea and Vietnam, neither of which were especially resource rich countries.
In truth, raw materials are everywhere in this world. Commodities, as expensively priced as they are now, are virtually everywhere. Oil, coal, so-called rare-earth minerals – copper, silver, gold – on and on. If you can name a mineral it can probably be discovered and mined all over the world. Anglo-American elites are waging wars of conquest, not mineral exploration and the ultimate goal is world domination. This does not fit into the leftist paradigm of greedy capitalist countries exploiting poor developing ones for their resources. But it is true nonetheless.
Over and over when current and past wars can be examined within the context of ever-closer world governance, a pattern can be detected. Those countries that are targeted are not friendly or are downright hostile to Western political and military interests. Afghanistan is the most obvious example but we have just seen another military action develop in the Ivory Coast, which has no oil to speak of.
Of course, the Ivory Coast has cocoa but it seems fairly obvious that the military action that just took place there had more to do with President Laurent Gbagbo's independent "Ivorian first" industrial and economic policies than undiscovered riches that needed exploiting. Attributing Western wars to economic exploitation obscures the larger strategic efforts that the Anglo-American power elites are undertaking. It gives one a false sense of larger global strategies and obscures the real reasons why military actions are being launched.
Purely from an investment standpoint – leaving aside other rationales – a clear understanding of what is going on in the world and why is preferable to a false leftist paradigm that is not actually predictive of Western military involvement. Energy and raw materials are secondary considerations at best. The Anglosphere elites are trying to win the world and if they should, there will be plenty of time to explore what's beneath.