Iraq and the Politics of Oil: An Insider’s Perspective
By Gary Vogler
University Press of Kansas, 2017, 318 pp.
Vogler, a former ExxonMobil executive, recounts the seven years he spent on and off in Iraq between 2003 and 2015 working to rebuild the oil sector. Most of the book deals with his on-the-ground experiences, offering considerable detail about the main Iraqi and foreign actors, but it ends on a more provocative note. By 2014, Vogler had become convinced that the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was driven in large part by a plan worked up by Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, and a cluster of neoconservative policymakers in the Bush administration. The aim of the plan was to reopen a pipeline from Kirkuk, in Iraq, to Haifa, in Israel, that had been closed since Israel’s founding in 1948 and which would provide Israel with a major source of oil and substantial transit fees. Ultimately, this quixotic scheme never saw the light of day. The most likely explanation is that the White House viewed it as a possible dividend of the invasion, but not as a major impetus for going to war.