Readers respond to "Big Oil Fears War, Too," by Dan Baum.

Published February 27, 2003 9:42PM (EST)

[Read the story.]

You might be right that it's not blood for oil, but it's still blood for cash.

By pointing a gun at the American people with this sudden "crisis," Bush has increased Big Oil profits by creating the impression of an emergency. Remember the California energy crisis created by Enron?

Since it doesn't matter who's running Iraq in terms of marketing and distributing the end products, how does Bush's policy not add up to more oil profits over the long term?

No matter how you slice it, U.S. business can't lose, and Bush knows it. Big Oil aside, GOP donor multinationals will be the first with their fingers in the reconstruction pie.

-- Benjamin Keyser

Dan Baum's article on Big Oil's crocodile tears over the coming conquest of Iraq contains all the relevant facts but misses the point.

Big Oil stands to make billions in extra profits when Iraq's oil fields are "secured." This is because Iraqi oil is cheap to pump out of the ground, while Western oil is much more expensive.

After taking over and rehabilitating Iraq's oil fields, Big Oil will reduce their production of expensive Western oil, keeping the supply of oil constant and the price of oil stable and high. The difference in cost between cheap-to-pump Iraqi oil and expensive-to-pump Western oil will mean billions in extra profits for Big Oil.

And that is why the United States is about to conquer Iraq.

-- Brad Corsello

Yeah, right. I read this article twice through and still don't think that Big Oil fears a war in Iraq.

Perhaps the writer is far smarter than I am, and intuitively understands why Big Oil dreads getting involved. If so, perhaps Mr. Baum should have spelled it out for people like me, who still see an attack on Iraq as a multibillion-dollar windfall for our president's good buddies.

Salon, I beg you, please don't turn into the New Republic.

-- Mark Vickery

I don't know what's scarier: the idea that the pending war against Iraq is about oil, or that it's not about oil.

At least if it's about oil, I can understand the strategic decision-making process. If it's about oil, then it's largely about money and power for Big Oil and its political supporters like Bush and Cheney.

But if it's not about oil, then what is it about? I can see only two possible choices.

Maybe it really is about weapons of mass destruction, in which case Bush must know something we don't, and it's time to be really frightened.

Or maybe it's just a big song and dance routine to distract us from Osama bin Laden and the real terrorists. If the plan is just to distract the citizenry, however, then what hope can we have to win the war on terror?

-- David Moss

I think one must keep in mind the long-term goals that the Bush administration has articulated.

Controlling Iraq might not make spectacular financial sense at the moment, but increasing our control and influence throughout the Persian Gulf will afford us a position of power above all other nations on Earth in the years to come.

One can only assume that oil will still be a hot commodity for the next few decades. When U.S.-backed governments hold unchallenged sway in the region, we will have control of an astounding portion of the planet's energy resources.

Except for isolated terrorists, who could challenge us?

-- John Grunwell

I thought it very surprising and a bit strange that Baum made no mention of the California energy crisis in his article. If the energy markets are so market driven, how were the U.S. energy companies able to collude so well during the blackouts?

The author states that not even Satan himself could raise oil prices in the world market, but Ken Lay -- no relation, I believe -- was able to raise them in California, the fifth-largest economy in the world. If politicians can't control oil prices, then why does the industry give the GOP so much money?

Tighter enforcement of corporate fraud would assist the economy more then tax cuts, but I see very few indictments and a very large federal deficit instead.

What President Bush believes is right and what enriches his friends seem to coincide rather well. I will be more inclined to agree with Baum's benign worldview when the FERC refunds California its $9 billion in overcharges.

-- Doug Walker

Baum fails to mention the notion of "peak oil" and its role in the Bush plan. Depending on whom you listen to, the production of oil worldwide will peak sometime between the next 10 and 50 years. Once that occurs, supplies will dwindle and the price will rise dramatically.

He who controls the oil, controls the world, politically and economically.

Also, removing Saddam and putting in a U.S. puppet government may give the United States the opportunity to tear up any existing contracts with French and Russian oil companies, thereby allowing Bush's buddies to gain lucrative contracts not only for the oil, but also to rebuild the oil fields at the expense of Iraq.

Then there's the issue of currency, as the dollar is the dominant currency of oil trade today. Iraq has already changed from the dollar to the Euro as its required currency for oil trade. Should other countries, namely OPEC, make that change, the dollar would be in for a major drop. If you think the economy sucks now, just wait until this happens.

Bottom line, I think the oil companies are only quiet because they have to cover their collective mouths to hide the smirks on their faces.

-- Dean Tebbe

The author claims that "oil is a stateless commodity" and goes on to say that no "Middle East despot" would use oil as a weapon against the U.S. However, that is exactly what has happened over the last four years.

Just four years ago the price of oil on the world market was $10 a barrel. In one year OPEC decided that price was too low, so they slowed down oil delivery until oil reached their target price somewhere in the vicinity of $30 a barrel.

At the time, NPR commentators mentioned that every time in the past when oil prices skyrocketed, a recession soon followed, and therefore the roaring bull market then in play (the dot-com boom) would falter and crumble.

Well, we certainly have gone into recession. And it's possible that the current recession has to do more with oil prices than with interest rates.

-- David Herron

Perhaps more relevant than the prospects for Big Oil are the possible profits by Small Oil. Richard Rainwater, Rusty Rose and other Texas cronies of Bush may, as has been their pattern, reward W. financially for his positive influence on their economic status.

-- Jim Nash

Baum claims that regime change in Iraq is not about oil. This is true. The spoils of war may include oil, but the sweetest plums are the oil-field services contracts. The administration claims that it will take years to ready the Iraqi fields for production. Who will do the work? Schlumberger and Halliburton, of course.

This doesn't seem to get much play in the media, but does anyone else see a conflict of interest for the former chief executive officer of the Halliburton Co. to be one of the central architects of this war?

-- David Stein

By Salon Staff

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