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By Robert Rapier on Aug 16, 2007 with no responses

Big Oil and Iraq

I am about to be traveling, but I wanted to throw this out for discussion. Over the past few years, I have heard various claims that oil companies were complicit/ultimately responsible over the Iraqi invasion. People have suggested that Big Oil was behind it, or supported it, and that they should be billed for the invasion. Or, that the military expenditure there is really a hidden subsidy for oil companies. This all seems to be widely-accepted “fact.”

I have stated on many occasions that the military expenditures may indeed be a hidden subsidy, but it is a subsidy for consumers. It is an attempt by politicians to keep energy prices down. If oil prices go up because of instability in Iraq and the Middle East, oil companies still make money. But if oil prices go up and the economy stumbles, politicians risk losing their jobs.

This discussion just came up in a thread at The Oil Drum, when someone claimed:

I do apologize for observing that your friendly neighborhood oil company (XOM, etc.) certainly had a massive role in the march to invade and occupy a foreign country.

I asked for evidence of this (surely there must be evidence of such a massive role?), and when none was forthcoming (“I could only hint at critiques, and speculation”) I wrote:

Think about it. What do you think was the goal of the administration in invading Iraq? Do you think they intended to make oil more expensive? That’s what has happened, but of course that wasn’t the intent. The intent was stability, more supplies, and ultimately lower prices for consumers.

Do you think lower prices for consumers is XOM’s business model?

Someone else posted the following in response to my request for evidence:

Since it was brought up in these comments, I wish to address the question of whether Cheney and the oil companies had a complicity in the invasion of Iraq. Please refer to these documents produced under the Freedom of Information Act.

Why in the world would they be divying Iraq up unless they planned to gain control of the country — i.e. invasion and occupation?

So, I thought “Here it is. Someone has found a smoking gun.” What I found was nothing of the sort, so I responded:

Unless my eyes deceive me, I don’t seen any American oil companies on either list. What I do see are companies that were doing business in Iraq prior to the invasion. So let me make sure I understand this. A list of non-American oil companies that were doing business in Iraq prior to the invasion somehow implicates Big Oil in the invasion?

I also note that they had maps of Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) oil fields. Does this mean we are getting ready to invade them as well?

You guys are really reaching here. I thought someone was going to show me where Rex Tillerson made a speech denouncing Hussein and arguing for an invasion.

Now, I am open to evidence. What I say is that I have never seen anything that would lead me to believe that Big Oil wanted Iraq invaded. But I am persuaded by evidence. Does anyone have any to support this idea? I don’t claim that oil companies do no wrong, but I just don’t believe this charge sticks. Convince me.

I know better than to post something controversial like this on my way out of town, as it is sure to bring the trolls out. But I ask that people please stick to discussing this topic: What, if any, role did oil companies have in invading Iraq? What would be their motive? What is the evidence?

Probably offline now for a few days, although I will try to check in at some point and deal with trolls as needed. In the mean time, the trolls are in your hands. I do want to note that I have received some recent legal counsel over the blog, and will be putting up some disclaimers soon. One of them revolves around the fact that I am only speaking on behalf of myself. I do not identify myself as an employee of a specific company, as that might imply that I am authorized to speak on their behalf. I am not. However, at times people have attempted to “out me.” From now on, any comment that identifies me as an employee of a specific company will be automatically deleted in order to avoid any appearance of official sanction.