Sunday, May 6, 2018

Review Iraq and the Politics of Oil, An Insider’s Perspective

Review Vogler, Gary, Iraq and the Politics of Oil, An Insider’s Perspective, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2017

Gary Vogler provides an excellent overview of how the United States and Iraqis tried to help rebuild Iraq’s oil industry after the 2003 invasion. Vogler worked for the Pentagon, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and then as a contractor and consultant. He was intimately involved in many of the major decisions and events from the postwar planning to the reconstitution of the Oil Ministry to expunging the insurgency from the oil industry to the return of international energy companies to Iraq.

Iraq and the Politics of Oil has a plethora of engaging stories about the decisions made by the Americans and Iraqis that helped bring back Iraq’s petroleum sector. For example, Vogler was involved in prewar planning and then became a senior adviser to the Oil Ministry for the ORHA and CPA. He promised to resign if he found out the U.S. was after Iraq’s resources. Instead he discovered the Americans were committed to getting the country’s oil industry up and running so that it could pay for its new government and reconstruction. He did discover that Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress had convinced some neoconservatives in the Pentagon and the Israeli government that if Iraq was invaded he would get Baghdad to export oil to Israel. That never materialized. During the 2007 Surge Vogler worked with the director of the Baiji refinery and the U.S. military to wrest control of the facility from the insurgency and corrupt officials. The author was also there when Iraq welcomed back foreign energy corporations to develop its major oil fields in 2009, and how the Iraqi bureaucracy frustrated some with late payments and delayed approvals for projects that led ExxonMobile to end its contract with Baghdad and work in Iraqi Kurdistan instead. All of these events and more are written in an engaging style, which brings the reader into the heart of Iraq’s energy sector. There were many successes, but also struggles after the U.S. invasion, but through hard work and cooperation the Americans and the Iraqis were able to make huge strides where today Iraq is the second largest producer in OPEC. Iraq and the Politics of Oil gives an insider’s view of how that was achieved.


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