Scott Ritter shocker: it wasn’t all about oil

In the course of an interview in which he calls neoconservatives godless parasites with “Leninist, even Trotskyite values,” weapons-inspector-turned-antiwar-hero Scott Ritter manages to let slip something remarkably perceptive:

Raw Story: What about oil companies, were they for the war or against it?

Ritter: No oil professional in their right mind would support what is happening in Iraq. This isn’t part of a grand “oil” strategy; it is simply pure unadulterated incompetence.

Raw Story: So they are concerned about their bottom lines, and chaos doesn’t forward that goal.

Ritter: Right. Oil company executives are businessmen and they are in a business that requires long-term stability. They love dictators because they bring with them long-term stability. They don’t like new democracies because they are messy and unstable. I have not run into a major oil company that is willing to refurbish the Iraq oil fields and in invest in oil field exploration and development. These are multi-billion dollar investments, that in order to be profitable, must be played out over decades. And in Iraq today you cannot speak out to projecting any stability in the near to mid-future.

He’s right, of course. Big Oil wanted nothing to do with the liberation of Iraq. Far better, from their perspective, to end the sanctions against the Baathist regime and get the oil (and profits) flowing.

As Peter Beinart wrote in The New Republic a few months before the Iraq invasion:

…Saddam’s government, for its part, has said it would be perfectly happy to partner with American oil companies. And even under sanctions, it has knowingly sold substantial quantities of oil–through middlemen–to U.S. energy behemoths like ChevronTexaco and Valero.

In fact, it isn’t war that the American oil industry has been lobbying for all these years; it’s the end of sanctions. As late as October 2001, after Bush administration hawks had already begun talking about war with Iraq, the American Petroleum Institute was still focused on trying to lift sanctions. In an interview with Energy Day, an institute spokesman criticized “the roadblocks of U.S. law that unilaterally close important markets to U.S. companies while leaving the door wide open for competitors.”

So intentionally or not, Ritter cut the heart out of the whole “It was all about oil” case beloved by so many of his antiwar admirers. And a thousand anti-neocon rants won’t change that.