Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq Paperback – 21 Apr 2011
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"Since the invasion of Iraq Greg Muttitt has kept his eye firmly fixed on the prize: Iraq's vast oil wealth. His tireless investigations have produced nothing short of a secret history of the war. As the demand for freedom sweeps the Middle East, it is also an important reminder that democracy without economic sovereignty is a hollow victory." (Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine)
"A cracking read. This book lifts the lid on what many suspected - the West's need to grab Iraq's gigantic oil reserves was the main driver of the Bush-Blair war agenda. A compelling read, brilliantly researched, revealing how the oilmen colluded with politicians trying to outwit a determined Iraqi people traumatised in the aftermath of the invasion." (David Hencke, former Westminster correspondent, the Guardian)
"Greg Muttitt has done a great service with this painstakingly researched, timely book. Armed with a great depth of knowledge of oil, modern Iraq, and international politics, he reveals an untold and largely unknown facet of the occupation of Iraq, giving us a picture that is that is illuminating, informative and objective. On a subject where truth was the first casualty, this book is the closest to that truth." (Tareq Y. Ismael, Professor of Political Science, University of Calgary)
"Iraqi civil society voices ...resound with dignity in this brilliant, comprehensive account" (New Internationalist)
A revelatory account of how oil has shaped politics and worsened violence in occupied Iraq.See all Product description
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What continues to surprise and disturb me is the greed, the malice, the arrogance and the total lack of human decency of our political and corporate leaders. They don’t care how many people are killed, tortured, maimed, or blown to bits, or how many starve, or see their children starve, provided they get to increase their already bloated bank accounts.
These men, and they are mostly men, look civilised, they dress well, they speak well, they walk the corridors of power, they inhabit luxury hotels, but they are heartless psychopathic killers, and they are our real enemies.
The quote from The Independent also reminds me of the complicity of the mainstream media in the murder, torture, etc. If the press did its job, our governments and the corporations would not be able to get away with their crimes against humanity.
Author Greg Muttitt has obtained several internal British government documents discussing the British government interests in the Iraqi oil which, despite official claims to the contrary, were described as 'vital' in said documents. However, Muttitt goes on to show that the interest of Western governments was more complicated than merely obtaining the physical oil. The book details the struggles and political conflicts as Iraqi civil society tried to resist pressure from Western government, multinationals and sectarian politicians in their bid to control the Iraqi oil.
Another major force of the book is that it brings Iraqis to the fore and show Iraqi civil society to be far richer than it is usually portrayed in Western media. It shows how the US-led coalition were, to a high degree, the cause of sectarian conflict in Iraq, and how many Iraqis fought to resist the sectarianism that the coalition was imposing. Labour unions struggling for workers' rights, civil society groups fighting for civil liberties and government accountability and how Sunnis and Shias worked together in many respects which have gone mostly unacknowledged in the West.
The author has interviewed several Iraqis from many social backgrounds. He has spoken to oil analysts from both commercial and security backgrounds, as well as Western civil servants and politicians. There are countless fascinating quotes and perspectives. In fact, this is another excellent aspect of the book - it shows how diverse the tapestry of opinion is on all sides of the fence. The situation was far more complex than Sunni vs. Shia. Politicians and militia leaders changed sides as the situation shifted - sometimes a particular militia could be Iraqi nationalist, but engaging in sectarian cleansing as the situation grew worse. Nor are Western decision-makers portrayed as uniformly anything, though a main point of the book is that they identified Iraqi interests with their own, helping to create a disaster with a combination of self-interest and prejudice.
If I am required to say anything negative at all, it would have to be that Kurdish voices are lacking, though certainly not entirely. It is a main point of the book that Iraqi nationalism and solidarity were far stronger than portrayed in the West, but even so, the Kurds had suffered terribly through Iraqi history, which could help explain some of the positions taken later. However, these are minor details in an excellent book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Iraq War, oil and international politics. It is one of the best books written about the war and no-one who is interested in the subject should miss it.
The analysis is backed up with impressive original research and first-hand accounts of the author's time in Iraq spent with a colourful cast including oil executives, Iraqi oil workers and ministers.
Muttit resists the temptation to portray any of the actors as entirely good or bad, choosing instead to dig deeper into their motivations and incentives. He does this with a rare mixture of hard-headed logic and humility.
This is the best account I've read of the war and the Iraqi people's struggle to rebuild their nation. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in this fascinating subject.