It is nearly ten years since the original invasion of Afghanistan. However it was the invasion of Iraq which really stirred up the population of Britain. They knew it was wrong, knew it was about oil, and up to two million came out to protest. Greg Muttitt's excellent book shows that we were right all along.
Oil was always central to the war. Muttitt provides many examples to demonstrate this. He has been at a considerable number of meetings where politicians and oilmen (men, almost exclusively) admitted as much, and has cited countless documents to demonstrate this. All this can be found in this well-researched, clearly written and carefully referenced book.
Muttitt's key claim is that the aims of the majority of the oil-producing countries contradict those of the multinationals. Nations such as Saudi Arabia keep their oil nationalised in order to regulate supply. On the other hand, multinational oil companies are there for the short term, intent on maximising profit.
This book is not just a critical account of a single war, but a thoroughgoing critique of the operations of capitalism and the imperialist agenda that serves its aims.
One main difference between Muttitt's book and most other political or historical accounts we see is his focus on the oil workers and the role of the trade unions. He extensively quotes people who work in the industry and who have been involved in both producing the oil and fighting to maintain Iraq's control of its own resources. This is often despite the collusion between Iraq's post-war leaders and the multinationals.
The debate about the oil law is a case in point. Numerous attempts to get the laws restricting exploitation of Iraqi oil changed in favour of the multinationals have failed. The workers, and what Muttitt terms the "civil society", of Iraq have campaigned, lobbied and threatened to the extent that the ratification of oil laws benefiting the multinationals continues to be denied. No doubt inspired by the revolutions rocking the Middle East, the Iraqi people, and in particular oil workers and trade unionists, continue to take on the might of the multinationals.
I finished this book not only far better educated about the real war aims in Iraq, and the terrible legacy of the invasion, but also thrilled to see an informed and determined society fighting the might of the Western imperialist powers and their representatives - not for personal gain but for the future of their country. This is an inspiring, readable and informative book that no socialist or anti-war campaigner should miss.
Fuel on the Fire is published by Bodley Head £14.99.