As you know, I had the benefit of a dinner with Cheney some years ago. He was refreshingly honest about his motivations. With your forebearance, I’ll tell you what he told me:
1. The stability of the US economy is critically dependent upon the ready availability and supply of cheap oil.
2. Within ten years the US will be primarily dependent upon foreign suppliers, the majority of whom are muslim arab nations.
3. One of the major sources of oil is Iraq, which controls 11% of the world’s known economically viable reserves.
4. Hostility to the US had resulted in Iraq contracting its oil extraction to European nations, principally France, Russia and Germany.
5. The US response to these contracts was to impose an embargo on these contracts through the mechanism of the UN.
6. A stalemate ensued between these European nations and the US. (At the time of our dinner we were less than a quarter of the way through the stalemate that would cost the lives of 500,000 Iraqi children who were starved or denied medical treatment by the UN sanctions and a corrupt Iraqi regime for over ten years).
7. At the time of the first Gulf war, Iraq’s capacity to conduct an offensive strike against its neighbours was eliminated. The coalition flew several thousand subsequent bombing runs over Iraq taking out all possible military targets over the ensuing years without the loss of a single plane to ground fire.
8. And yet the Iraqi intention to sell their oil to the Europeans in Euros remained firm.
9. In order to secure US control of supply, it was envisaged that a sequenceo f military conquests was nece ssary. For some time (in 1993) Russia had been attempting to control Afghanistan. The primary purpose was to secure theregion in order to pipe newly discovered Russian oil across Afghanistan to the (Caspian?) sea. If the US could control Afghanistan, it could control the supply of this Russian oil. (Since the invasion of Afghanistan, it has been realised that the Russian oil is of much inferior quality and less economically accessible than was previously thought – hence the loss of interest in this region since).
10. The next cab off the rank was to be Iraq, followed by Syria and eventually Iran.
11. However, the stumbling block for these excursions remained US public opinion. Cheney was frustrated that the average American would never endorse such a substantial and long term military strategy until there was an oil crisis, by which time it would be too late. In the meantime, the Russians and Europeans would have seized the advantage and there was a real risk theUS would end up having to pay Euro for their oil which would be an economic disaster and end the US dominance of global finances.
12. He remained bitterly disappointed in Bush (Senior) who had squandered the opportunity to unseat Hussein in Gulf War I.
I have stated on numerous occasions that I find the notion of war to defend the imperial dollar more credible than the notion of “blood for oil”. While this is likely only one of several factors, I don’t think that it’s an accident that the Arab countries, as well as some Islamic allies such as Indonesia, have chosen this moment to begin bruiting about the gold dinar.