Robert Bryce is a Texas-based freelance journalist and the current managing editor of Energy Tribune. His most recent book,Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence (2008) has been heralded as "visionary, even revolutionary" by The New York Times. In 2004, he published Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, which told the story of how the energy's corporations unraveling. His work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Slate, and The Atlantic Monthly. He resides in Austin, Texas.
Question: Did we go to Iraq for oil?
Robert Bryce: We heard a lot of explanation for why we went to Iraq, right, it was weapons of mass destruction, then it was democracy we are promoting democracy and then but Bush, President Bush is also said that we have to stay in Iraq, because of we did not then the oil would fall into the hands of the bad guys and they would be terrorists, and there fore we had to prevent them from taking control the oil and I sight that in Gusher of Lies and he started using that, those talking points in 2006. All that said there is no question that the invasion of Iraq was fundamentally predicated on the idea of wresting control of Iraq’s oil from Saddam Hussein and giving it to the US. The very first soldier there was killed in Iraq in action was Shane Childers, he was killed in the Romalo oil field. The best finance in the book Cobra II by Michael Gordon, forgot the generals name, they have discussed the fact that the invasion plan and the reconstruction plan all was predicated on gaining control of Iraq’s oil and the reconstruction member as Paul Wolfowich [phonetic] told us was the reconstruction of the country was going to be paid for with Iraq’s oil, the oil revenues. Oil was always the motivating factor, I am not saying that it was about giving control of Iraq’s oil to Axon mobile or any body else there is some conspiracy of it, but rather that the Bush administration felt, oh, Saddam has some connection with terrorism and Al-Qaeda what ever, we sense were that is not true, but the only reason Saddam mattered to the US was that he was sitting the top the worlds third largest oil reserves. We would never have invaded Iraq if their chief export was dates or cabbage.
Question: If we went to war with Iraq for its oil, is that okay?
Robert Bryce: Well, look the motivation that we have been told about our reason, we can start off with the reasons we have been given for the invasion of Iraq keep changing, that is it, it was clear from the outset that the justification was Saddam is supporting terrorism, there fore we have to remove Saddam’s funding and Saddam’s funding was about oil. Is that okay, well, I don’t know, what is see we are saying, all is fair in love and war, but the fact is that that is what happened and Saddam when he was fighting the Iranian’s was America’s friend and the US tried to help him increase his oil exports. Now after we decided that Saddam was a bad guy after the first Iraq war and now to the second Iraq war, it is clear that we does that the US the Bush administration decided he could longer be trusted to control Iraq’s oil. So no matter how you slice it, America’s relationship with Iraqis has always been about oil, is that good, is that bad. I don’t hear any one having moral calms when they fill up their gas tank.
Question: What happened to Iraq’s oil?
Robert Bryce: Well, most of Iraq’s oil is still in the ground, that is one of the other key problems with the US military occupation of Iraq is we never really gain control of Iraq’s oil, as my friend Anasa Haji [phonetic] has said whoever controls Iraq’s oil, controls Iraq. We haven’t really gained control of Iraq’s oil, instead what has happened is the Kurds in the north have largely succeeded from the rest of the Iraq and they are doing deals with countries all over the world to develop the oil in Kurdistan. In the south it is not clear who controls the oil, the black market in oil and oil products is thriving in Iraq. I was in Kuwait in 2006 and the guys that I talked to are who ever, missionaries who regarding the fuel trucks in going out of Kuwait and into Iraq said the black market for the refined product was controlled nearly all the product that they were seeing. So that is the problem is that US is never been able to control Iraq’s oil effectively, the infrastructure varies in tatters, the pipe lines are barely functioning and so yes, Iraq’s production is up and they are exporting crude, but they are not effectively able to grow their industry. We got it wrong by having too small of an invasion Force. Erickson Sakki [phonetic] was right, we should never have gone into Iraq with a 100,000 or what ever how many soldiers were involved in the invasion, it required 300,000 or 400,000 or 500,000 troops in order to totally control the country and by totally controlling a country, control totally the oil infrastructure and then maintain some sense of order in balance and then allow the industry to evolve and get on in it’s feet allow the Iraqis to figure out what they are going to do, that never happened and so instead we saw clearly in 2003 and 2004 the rise of the insurgency and one of the key targets all long for the insurgency has been the oil sector.
Date Recorded: 03/20/2008