Is the widely expected war on Iraq an oil war?
Many commentators, columnists, politicians and almost all those who oppose the war answer this question with a resounding yes. The question, as put in these general terms, is not very helpful. It fails to distinguish between motives that are responsible for a decision, factors that are taken into consideration by policy-makers but do not determine the decision, and the implications of the actions that implement the decision. A better understanding of the ‘war and oil’ issue would be gained if we split the question into three. First, did the US and the UK decide to move onto the warpath because of oil? Secondly, does oil add to the political or strategic benefits that the US hopes to obtain from the war? Thirdly, does the war have implications for the oil market and industry and the geopolitics of energy?