Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens made headlines late last year as he openly advocated to members of Congress that the United States seize the oil fields of Iraq and use them for its own benefit, arguing that our country is “entitled” to the oil.
Speaking at the American Renewable Energy Day conference in Aspen, Colorado, last week, Pickens once again lamented the fact that the United States failed to take Iraq’s oil, and even revealed that he personally lobbied former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama to seize the country’s natural resources. The oil baron explained that President Bush, though interested in how such a plan would be structured, ultimately failed to agree to enact Pickens’ scheme, fearing that it would make people “think we’re there for the oil.” Pickens also said he told Obama to stay in Iraq to appropriate the country’s oil fields, but failed to convince the president of the merits of his idea:
“I’ve heard people accuse President Bush of going to Iraq for their oil,” he began, in a public conversation with CNN founder Ted Turner and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “That didn’t happen. We didn’t get the oil.”
Pickens argued that the American blood shed in the war was reason enough to take the oil. But, he said, Bush was too concerned about his image and appearing as if the war were a ploy to get the oil to follow Pickens’ plan. [...]
The 82-year-old Texan recalled a conversation with President Bush as his days in office waned, in which Bush asked about how they could bring the oil to market and battle the public perception that Operation Iraqi Freedom was a war for oil.
“He said, ‘People will think we’re there for the oil.’ And I said, ‘That was eight years ago, a lot’s happened since then — a lot of money spent, a lot of lives lost.’ And he said, ‘How would you price it?’ I said, ‘Price it on the market every day.’”
Bush then asked more detailed questions about the pricing structure, and Pickens recalled pushing those concerns aside and telling the president, “That’s a high-class problem. We can figure out how to get it in the hands where it’d do best for America.” He made a similar plea to Obama, Pickens said, with similar results. “I went to Obama and said, ‘Don’t leave Iraq.’ Look where we are now.”
It is difficult to understand how Pickens squares his view that the United States should have continued to indefinitely occupy Iraq to take its oil with his much-touted “Pickens Plan” designed to “break America’s addiction to foreign oil.” If what Pickens says about his lobbying of two American presidents to try to seize Iraq’s oil is true, it calls into question his sincerity in pursuing his stated goal of energy independence.