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Way back then, the signs out on the streets read: "No Blood for Oil," "How did USA's oil get under Iraq's sand?" and "Don't trade lives for oil!" Such homemade placards, carried by deluded antiwar protesters in enormous demonstrations before the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq in March 2003, were typical -- and typically dismissible. Oil? Don't be silly!
True, Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke admiringly about Iraq "floating on a sea of oil," but that was just a slip of the tongue. President Bush was so much more cautious. Despite his years in the energy business and those of his vice-president (not to speak of the double-hulled tanker that had been named after his national security advisor while she was on the board of Chevron), he almost never even mentioned oil. When he did, he didn't call it "oil," but Iraq's "patrimony."
Back then, of course, everyone who mattered knew that whatever the invasion of Iraq was about -- freedom, possible mushroom clouds rising over U.S. cities or biological and chemical attacks on them, the felling of a monster dictator -- it certainly wasn't about oil. An oil war? How crude (so to speak), even if Iraq, by utter coincidence, happened to be located in the oil heartlands of the planet.