Did we go to Iraq for oil?
Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies (a joint appointment at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and Director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies (PAWSS), a position he has held since 1985. Before assuming his present post, he served as Director of the Program on Militarism and Disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. (1977-84).
Professor Klare has written widely on U.S. defense policy, the arms trade, and world security affairs. He is the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (Metropolitan Books, 2004), along with many other books. He is also the defense correspondent of The Nation, a Contributing Editor of Current History, and has contrbuted to numerous publications.
Michael Klare serves on the board of directors of the Arms Control Association, and the advisory board of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch; he is also a member of the Committee on International Security Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Question: Did we go to Iraq for oil?
Michael Klare: Well, first of all I think that the war in Iraq that began 2003 is a continuation of the war that began really on August 2nd 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and President Bush Senior at that time said that the presence of Iraqi forces in Kuwait post a threat to Saudi Arabia in the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf and this was strategic threat to America's vital interests in accordance with the Carter doctrine of 1980, which says at anytime like hostile power threatens to flow of oil from the Persian gulf that is a threat to America’s vital interests, we will respond with military force if need be and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait that is exactly what he said and so we are going to respond. Now, at the conclusion of that first Persian Gulf War, President Bush the elder said “Well, we not going to invade Iraq, we are going to bring down Saddam Hussein through economic warfare.” The sanctions regime that continued under President Clinton, but he made clear and President Clinton made clear that the purpose of those economic sanctions was regime change in Baghdad to get rid of this potential threat to the security, the stability of the entire region and the stability of the entire region was crucial, because of the importance of the flow of oil from the gulf to the rest of the world. Not just Iraq's oil, but the entire region. The current President Bush decided in 2002 that economic sanctions were failing in their intended mission to eliminate Saddam Hussein and thereby ensure the security of the oil flow from the Persian Gulf and that it would be necessary to resume the conflict where it had ended on February 1st 1991, on the Kuwait boarder with Iraq. That is the way I interpreted that the war of 2003 is really a continuation of the war of 1991, with the same purpose to eliminate the threat of Saddam Hussein posed to the safety of the entire region and its oil flow in accordance with the Carter doctrine.
Question: If we went there for oil, is that okay?
Michael Klare: Well, I think it is not okay in the sense that we have become addicted to foreign oil as a diversion from the essential task of freeing ourselves from dependents on petroleum, number one. Number two, I think that we delude ourselves into thinking that military force can ensure the protection of oil and I think that the lesson of the current war in Iraq is that military force does not ensure the safety of oil. In fact it has the opposite effect, it makes the threat greater not lesser and that we are paying an extraordinarily high cost in human lives and in dollars, I mean $3 trillion we are speaking now to protect oil, if that was added as attacks to the price of gasoline, now we would be paying two times as much of the pump for the gasoline that we pay and I just think that this is scandalize as well as being moral.
Question: What happened to Iraq’s oil?
Michael Klare: Well, as I say I don’t believe that the war in Iraq is about Iraq’s oil per say, it is about the safety of the flow from the entire region. So, President Bush could argue and he is hinted at this, he know that by attacking Saddam Hussein we have made the regions safer and in fact oil continues to flow from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, all this time, so he could claim that we have seen a benefit from this, but the cost to American tax payers of this oil has been humongous.
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