Monday, May 01, 2006

The Key to Iraq and future oil wars:
The Prize by Daniel Yergin

I often refer to this book in conversation when I try to explain how pivotal oil is to our foreign policy and wars.

It got a Pulitzer Prize and the author is such a lefty that he went to work with Papa Bush at the Carlyle Group, and went on to right a book on the success of unrestricted free markets after World War II.

I just found an excellent summary at Wikipedia.

The section that are most useful are on World War II, FDR & the Saudis, and the coup in Iran in the 1950s. That last one set off the chain of events that lead to theocracy in power there today.



Ch. 16: Japan’s Road to War

Japan occupies Manchuria, 1931 (305). Ultranationalist militarists in power (306). Japan dependent on foreign oil, especially Rising Sun (Japanese affiliate of Royal Dutch/Shell) and Standard-Vacuum (Stanvac, an amalgam of Jersey and Standard of New York’s Far East operations) (307). 1934 Petroleum Industry Law squeezed companies (308). Japan attacks China, 1937; placates companies as U.S. public opinion sides with China (308-10). Stanvac resolved on embargo of Japan if U.S. so decides (310-11). U.S. moves fleet to Pearl Harbor and restricts (but does not stop) oil shipments to Japan, 1940 (311-13). Cordell Hull & Admiral Nomura converse repeatedly (313-14). Admiral Yamamoto sensitive to Japan’s oil predicament (314-16). Japan invades Indochina; U.S. effectively embargoes oil, July 1941 (316-19). P.M. Konoye-Roosevelt summit doesn’t come off (319-20). Japanese resolve on war (320-23). Operation Hawaii’s primary target is East Indian oilfields (325-26). Japanese err in failing to destroy 4,500,000 barrels (720,000 m³) of vulnerable U.S. oil supplies at Pearl Harbor (326-27).

Ch. 17: Germany’s Formula for War

IG Farben’s research on synthetic fuels (1913 Bergius process of hydrogenation) leads to an alliance with Standard of Jersey (328-31). Nazified IG Farben’s synthetic fuels produce 46% of Germany’s oil in 1940 (332-33). Blitzkrieg and oil scarcity (333-34). Oil and Hitler’s invasion of Russia (334-36). Operation Blau, to seize oil of the Caucasus: ironically, “the Germans ran short of oil in their quest for oil”; “the blitzkrieg phase was over” (336-39). Rommel’s contempt for “the quartermaster’s advice" controverted by failure in North Africa (339-43). Speer’s reorganized German economy depends on synthetic fuels made by slave labor, e.g. at Auschwitz (343-46; 817). Beginning in May 1944, Allied air attacks on synthetic fuel plants and other oil facilities are a “fatal blow” (Gen. Adolph Galland) (346-48). Battle of the Bulge: Col. Jochem Peiper’s panzer unit almost seizes Stavelot fuel supply’s 2.5m gallons of fuel (348-49). No fuel left in war’s last months (349-50).

Ch. 18: Japan’s Achilles’ Heel

Jan. 20, 1942: Shell manager H.C. Jansen destroys Balikpapan (Borneo) oil-refining center (351-54). MacArthur & Nimitz (355). Strategy: safeguard supply lines and block “Japan’s indispensable ‘oil line’” (355). U.S. victories at Midway and Guadalcanal, but Japanese succeed in gaining oil supply (355-57). Submarine warfare decisive against Japanese shipping; synthetic fuel effort fails (357-58). Fuel shortages impact Japanese conduct of war (359-62). Yamato sinking on April 7, 1945 is “the end of the Imperial Navy” (362-63). Final desperate moves: pine root campaign; overtures to Soviets; national suicide (363-66). MacArthur’s motorcade and Tojo’s ambulance (366-67).


Ch. 20: The New Center of Gravity

Everette Lee DeGolyer’s late 1943 mission to Saudi Arabia concludes: “The oil in this region is the greatest single prize in all history” (words of someone named Leavall) (391-93). U.S. policymakers focus on Mideast oil (395-96). 1943-1944: U.S. contemplates owning Mideast oil and pipeline businesses (396-99). Anglo-American tensions in 1943-1944 over Mideast oil (399-402). Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement (1944) fails due to Senate opposition (402-03). February 13, 1945: Roosevelt talks with Ibn Saud for five hours aboard the USS Quincy on the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal (403-05). After FDR’s death, attempts to revive the Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement come to naught (405-08).


Ch. 23: “Old Mossy” and the Struggle for Iran

Mohammed Reza Pahlavi takes deposed father’s throne in Iran, 1941 (450-51). Iranian hatred of British (451-52). Under pressure, Sir William Fraser’s Anglo-Iranian tries to renegotiate agreement, but Iran under Mossadegh nationalizes oil industry (452-56). Portrait of Mossadegh as sly lunatic (456-58). Plan Y, for British military intervention (458). Dean Acheson sends Averill Harriman to negotiate; British send Richard Stokes; Mossadegh intractable (459-62). British abandon Abadan refinery, October 4, 1951 (462-63). Attempts at settlement unavailing; Mossadegh grows demagogic (463-67). Operation Ajax overthrows Mossadegh, described as a “countercoup,” August 1953 (467-70). U.S. govt. prods American companies to come to the rescue in Iran (470-71). Justice Dept. pursues criminal case with 1949 analysis entitled The International Petroleum Cartel, but Truman and Eisenhower reduced case to civil matter (472-75). Iranian consortium established: “The United States was now the major player in the oil, and the volatile politics, of the Middle East” (475-78)


Wikipedia on The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

Yergin does a good job of referring to primary documents, and this used to be more openly discussed until at least the first Gulf War when Papa Bush discovered people didn't care enough about oil to send our troops to die for it--so we get all the nonsense about Saddam being worse than Hitler as if they didn't know what a bastard he was when we were selling him weapons and encouraging him to fight Iran.

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