Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 22:59 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 22:59 | SYDNEY

No blood for oil


Sam Roggeveen


4 September 2008 15:37

John Quiggin says of the Iraq war that 'it’s pretty clear that one of the many motives for going to war was the desire to put Iraq’s oil under the control of a government friendly to the US'. So clear, it seems, that John does not find it necessary to supply any evidence to support the claim.

His larger point, however, is well made: it is generally smarter and cheaper to buy the resources a country needs than to go to war to secure them. A group of Lowy Institute folk happened to be discussing this very issue yesterday, and it was noted that this is not just a 'war vs. commerce' question. It is more broadly an issue of whether states trust in the stability and longevity of the global trading system to meet their needs for all kinds of resources.

If they don't have this trust, they'll try to acquire the means to produce those resources (and they don't have to go to war to do it; they could buy the companies that produce those goods), or they will protect domestic industries that already supply them. Indeed, as Mark Thirwell noted at the time, that was more or less the dynamic that sunk the Doha round.