Was the Iraq War About Grabbing Oil … Or Keeping It Off the Market?

Was the Real Purpose of the Iraq War to Restrict Oil … So As to Raise Oil Prices?

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, 4-Star General (and CENTCOM commander with responsibility for Iraq) John Abizaid, Fed boss Alan Greenspan, President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Sarah Palin, Bush speechwriter David Frum, key war architect John Bolton,  and a high-level National Security Council officer all say that the Iraq war was about oil.

Documents from Britain show the same thing.

But apologists for the Iraq war say this can’t be true, because American companies didn’t really end up with that much Iraqi oil.

BBC and Guardian investigative reporter Greg Palast – a New York Times bestselling author – thinks he knows why.  Palast is famous for obtaining original source documents from whistleblowers which tell the real story.

Palast argues today that source documents he obtained through cloak-and-dagger methods prove that the war was actually focused on keeping Saddam’s oil off of the market … so as to keep oil prices high:

[I obtained] a 323-page, three-volume programme for Iraq’s oil crafted by George Bush’s State Department and petroleum insiders meeting secretly in Houston, Texas.

I cracked open the pile of paper – and I was blown away.

Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli: Blood for oil.

But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than “Blood for Oil”. Much, much worse.

The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis:

“…A single state-owned company …enhances a government’s relationship with OPEC.”


I’d already had in my hands a 101-page document, another State Department secret scheme, first uncovered by Wall Street Journal reporter Neil King, that called for the privatisation, the complete sell-off of every single government-owned asset and industry. And in case anyone missed the point, the sales would include every derrick, pipe and barrel of oil, or, as the document put it, “especially the oil”.

That plan was created by a gaggle of corporate lobbyists and neo-cons working for the Heritage Foundation. In 2004, the plan’s authenticity was confirmed by Washington power player Grover Norquist.


The neo-con idea was to break up and sell off Iraq’s oil fields, ramp up production, flood the world oil market – and thereby smash OPEC and with it, the political dominance of Saudi Arabia.

General Jay Garner also confirmed the plan to grab the oil. Indeed, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fired Garner, when the General, who had lived in Iraq, complained the neo-con grab would set off a civil war. It did. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld replaced Garner with a new American viceroy, Paul Bremer, a partner in Henry Kissinger’s firm, to complete the corporate takeover of Iraq’s assets – “especially the oil”.

But that was not to be. While Bremer oversaw the wall-to-wall transfer of Iraqi industries to foreign corporations, he was stopped cold at the edge of the oil fields.

How? I knew there was only one man who could swat away the entire neo-con army: James Baker, former Secretary of State, Bush family consiglieri and most important, counsel to Exxon-Mobil Corporation and the House of Saud.

(One unwitting source was industry oil-trading maven Edward Morse of Lehman/Credit Suisse, who threatened to sue Harper’s Magazine for my quoting him. Morse denied I ever spoke with him. But when I played the tape from my hidden recorder, his memory cleared and he scampered away.)

There was no way in hell that Baker’s clients, from Exxon to Abdullah, were going to let a gaggle of neo-con freaks smash up Iraq’s oil industry, break OPEC production quotas, flood the market with six million bbd of Iraqi oil and thereby knock the price of oil back down to $13 a barrel where it was in 1998.

Big Oil could not allow Iraq’s oil fields to be privatised and taken from state control. That would make it impossible to keep Iraq within OPEC (an avowed goal of the neo-cons) as the state could no longer limit production in accordance with the cartel’s quota system. The US oil industry was using its full political mojo to prevent their being handed ownership of Iraq’s oil fields.

That’s right: The oil companies didn’t want to own the oil fields – and they sure as hell didn’t want the oil. Just the opposite. They wanted to make sure there would be a limit on the amount of oil that would come out of Iraq.

Saddam wasn’t trying to stop the flow of oil – he was trying to sell more. The price of oil had been boosted 300 percent by sanctions and an embargo cutting Iraq’s sales to two million barrels a day from four. With Saddam gone, the only way to keep the damn oil in the ground was to leave it locked up inside the busted state oil company which would remain under OPEC (i.e. Saudi) quotas.

The James Baker Institute quickly and secretly started in on drafting the 323-page plan for the State Department. With authority granted from the top (i.e. Dick Cheney), ex-Shell Oil USA CEO Phil Carroll was rushed to Baghdad in May 2003 to take charge of Iraq’s oil. He told Bremer, “There will be no privatisation of oil – END OF STATEMENT.


Some oil could be released, mainly to China, through limited, but lucrative, “production sharing agreements”.

And that’s how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about “blood for oil”, but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward.

Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.

And they’ve succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.

The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel.

Palast concludes that Cheney – a neo-con, but also a long-time oil man – sided with the oil companies, and decided not to divvy up the Iraqi oil spoils, but instead to make sure that the oil supply remained relatively scarce.

Indeed, top oil economists have said that the Iraq war substantially raised the price of oil … making a lot of people rich.

As bizarre as the oil-restriction theory may sound, the big U.S. oil companies have been doing that kind of stuff for years.

Note: We’ve heard such speculation for the last 10 years.  But Palast – one of the best investigative journalists in the last century – has such a spectacular record for breaking stories based upon source documents he obtains from whistleblowers that we think this is newsworthy.

There may – of course – have been additional motives for the war. And see this.

This entry was posted in Energy / Environment, Politics / World News. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Interesting… but the high oil prices will eventually undermine the industry through alternative energy sources. So you could perhaps say that Cheney, Bush, etc etc are also just trying to get that last flux of cash/profits into the US for the next scenario of development. Biofuels, alternative energy sources, etc etc etc. Using the profits to develop these technologies, and thus “hope” to control the next phase of energy development.

  • Occams

    No, it was to protect the petrodollar.

    Same reason we murdered Gaddafi. He threatened the US petrodollar.

    You can do ANYTHING, to ANYONE, as long as you don’t threaten the dollar.

    Articles like this are simply window dressing or a distraction from the truth.

    • 5 dancing shlomos

      wolfowitz, perle, judith miller, gordon, feith, zakheim, shulsky, frum, sharon, silverstein/lowey, nyt, wapo, others, planned,pushed, manipulated, lied for israel/jewry not the dollar.
      same in first gulf war as second. same for sanctions.
      they wanted iraq destroyed. they wanted libya destroyed. they want syria destroyed. they want iran destroyed. they want hezbullah destroyed. they want the palestinians gone.

  • gozounlimited

    Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

    A really important question to ask is how can one family which has so many skeletons in the family closet, get away with such dirty dealings and over such a long period of time without being called to task? It’s as if the mass media goes deaf, dumb and blind when the name Bush comes up. For no matter what your politics are, left, right or indifferent, a family which has its fingers in so many dirty dealings has surely got to get you thinking about exactly what kind of country it is you live in (if you’re an
    American) and what kind of world is it that’s dominated by a country with a media (not to mention a legal system) that’s quite content not to challenge its president or his lying, thieving family and their
    tenticular network of associations which includes: the Mafia, the Chinese Communist Party, Japanese Triads, the Vatican, Central American drug smugglers and gun runners, international arms dealers, the
    Ayotollah Khomeini (RIP), Cuban-American terrorists, money laundering, illegal arms sales, countless conflicts of interests, nepotism, coverups, tax avoidance, SEC fiddles and banking scams? A veritable ‘school for scoundrels’.

    The fact that this litany of evil is effectively left unscrutinized and unquestioned by the dominant media,
    or, on the few occasions when it is mentioned, it’s only ‘in passing’, reveals the cynical, opportunistic attitude toward not only the concept of access to information, but acting on it. The system also makes a complete mockery of the so-called moral approach used by the leaders of the ‘free world’ when they accuse others of the same behavior. Is it any wonder that we have populations who have
    ‘dropped out’ of the political process. Where is the accountability? Where indeed President Obama?

    read more: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3308.htm

  • atheo atheo

    Of course, Palast, who attacks 9/11 sceptics, is a complete fraud, out to protect his tribe in “Israel”.

    The “war against oil” explanation fails to account for the fact that the sanctions already kept most of the Iraqi oil in.

    No, keeping the balance locked in did not require invasion or occupation.

    A more in depth examination can be seen at the link:


  • Fred

    @Occams:disqus I totally agree it was not to keep oil in the ground it was because Saddam was selling oil for euro’s same with Quadaffi starting a gold based currency to trade for oil

    • atheo atheo

      But the euro explanation has the very same weakness. Saddam Hussein only began to sell oil in euros when sanctions prevented him from selling in dollars. It was the Zionist imposed sanctions that forced the currency switch.

  • amerikagulag

    First and foremost, Iraq was NEVER a ‘war’. It was always and remains today, an ILLEGAL INVASION AND OCCUPATION OF A SOVEREIGN NATION AGAINST ALL INTERNATIONAL AND MORAL LAW. Not to mention the US Constitution.

    and secondly, there’s more to the picture than just oil.
    And even a cursory glance at the map of the planned “GREATER ISRAEL” will tell anyone with even half a brain what’s REALLY going on in the middle east: the cockroaches are on the crawl and they won’t stop til they have all the land “god” promised them….in some book……which THEY wrote.
    The REAL terrorists are in Washington DC and TelAviv.

    • Ribbit

      Eat a dick, terrorist.

  • 5 dancing shlomos

    palast is an israel first jew making an arguement to protect his brethen in america and israel.
    give palast same trust you would give to judith miller, a. greenspan, wolfowitz, perle, frum, feith, krauthamer, chomsky, dershowitz,,,

  • 5 dancing shlomos

    cheney knows piss about oil.
    halliburton is an oil services cos. it also does construction of prisons, military bases, showers for soldiers, providing rotten food, etc.
    or at least gets dollars for barely doing anything.

  • 5 dancing shlomos

    cheney knows piss about oil.
    halliburton is an oil services cos. it also does construction of prisons, military bases, showers for soldiers, providing rotten food, etc.
    or at least gets dollars for barely doing anything.

  • Ribbit

    Almost thought this was a real news source. not really.

  • Jackie

    And one piece of evidence that Gregg does not get into is, the oil for food scandal. If you never understood that scandal there is a reason, it was cooked up by the same people who started the war. It was plan A, for getting Saddam back in line with OPEC. End the food for oil program, and Saddam will stop dumbing oil on the black market.

    One question for everyone. What was the price of oil per barrel in late 1998 and early 1999? $9 a barrel. The George Bush presidency was all about the price of oil and other commodities. They were at historic lows under Clinton. Companies like AOL were buying out old money companies like Time Warner.

    It was a old money not giving up power to new money. And it was a cabal.