Why a war for oil? Oil is used to power personal transport in the form of automobiles, it powers agricultural tractors and quarrying machinery, also road-building equipment, electric power generators, chain saws for logging. Oil is used for making hair shampoo, bathing and shower soaps, facial creams and beauty products. Oil is used to make cleaning, scouring, polishing and lubricating fluids for all kinds of purposes for our households and at our places of work in industry and factory settings.
Oil is used for producing the plastic materials which surround us in our cars, it’s used to make disposable containers for telephones, computers, pet food, pet toys, children’s toys, kitchen food, and of course plastic shopping bags. Which is not to say that all oil products are bad per se, just that there is a difference between the ones which can be reused and the ones which are to be discarded after a one time use.
There is a also a major difference between burning petroleum, irretrievably releasing very high levels of stored chemical energy, when compared to making useful and products which can be used repeatedly for a long period of time. Even so, pollution from discarded long-lasting products will always remain a problematic issue. Oil is used in almost every engineering-, military-, chemical-, and industrial- process to produce, as well as to protect, ‘our interests’ at home and abroad. Oil is used to oil the process of empire-building, or protectionism, or even just plain war, at every level, including oiling the barrels of the guns and fueling the Humvees and attack helicopter gunships.
The ‘war for oil’ is a particularly cynical form of circular dependency. In the 1960s, US President Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex” he had come to believe was running his country at that time. And I wonder, if he were around today and thinking of the issues and oil wars in and around Iraq and the middle-east, whether he would feel there had been progress, and if so, in what direction?
Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.