Iraq and Oil: Blairs Personal Message

Tony Blair, 8th March 2003ce

People of the United Kingdom,

I make this address to you in a spirit of honesty and frankness, a spirit that acknowledges the grave importance of these times and my position as your leader.

For many months now, both myself and President Bush have been doing our best to push ahead with war on Iraq, with our stated aim being regime change.

We told you Saddam Hussein’s regime was cruel, brutal, repressive and dictatorial; that much I still tell you is true.

We have told you it is a moral war; that much I still tell you is true, and indeed today I ask all of you to make a moral decision about the war.

To those of you who have said the war is about oil, I now concede that you are right. We always had the plan to go into Iraq to secure the oilfields for Western consumers; for you. The Americans were inevitably going to do this, and if we in the UK want second dibs on the oil, we knew our troops would have to fight alongside theirs in the battles to get it.

We don’t go after these oilfields for ourselves. We go after them for you. It is you who want to drive your cars. It is you who want the plastics. It is you who want the flights abroad. Where do you think the oil for this will come from in future?

All the major oil exporters in the world have peaked in production, or will do so within five years, except those in the Middle East. There will be no other place to get oil from. We have to go in now to get control of those oilfields, otherwise in ten years time our cheap oil will be gone.

Competition for decreasing oil reserves from the expanding economies of Asia means that demand will soon outstrip supply. Someone will have to go without. President Bush and I believe that you’d rather the Chinese be forced to ration petrol in a few years instead of you. They are closer to the oil than us. This war is just our attempt to rectify that situation.

Of course, a few years after that – well within the lifetimes of most of you reading this - Middle Eastern oil production will go into decline too, and the global price will increase astronomically. By getting the Iraqi oil we’re not solving the crisis that will destroy our way of life, we’re merely delaying it by twenty years or so.

Our entire way of life is dependant upon cheap oil. As your leader, it is my job to defend and preserve our way of life.

I do not enjoy the killing of people in war but you, the people, demand the cheap oil, and so I, your leader, must ensure you get it. As the reserves around the world are depleted, only those who fight hardest can have cheap oil; that means war, and only war.

The Gulf War was the first major oil war. This year’s war in Iraq will be the second. These wars will increase in frequency and intensity until there is no oil left to fight over.

Every time you use some plastic, every time you drive a car or switch on your television, you are a part of the demand for cheap oil; you are part of the demand for war. Every cheap-oil product you buy, from a CD to a banana, is a demand for war.

Those of you who want no war for oil and yet use the cheap oil offered to you are blinkered and hypocritical. The sight of hundreds of thousands of you using cheap-oil vehicles to come to London and demonstrate against the supply of cheap oil was particularly ironic. You can have cheap oil, or you can stop the war. You simply cannot have both.

If you really want ‘no blood for oil’, you have to also demand no oil for yourself and your compatriots. If you really want the fighting to be ‘not in your name’, you must show that the oil is not for your use.

So, people of Britain, I ask you to think hard about your lives. If you are really so repulsed at the thought of war, it is up to you, as the demand for war, to act.

Send your car keys to the Department of the Environment tomorrow morning. Once the government has figured out a way of effectively recycling your vehicles, we will come and collect them. Essential medical staff will be allowed a twelve month reprieve in which to organise alternative transportation.

Oil consumption must halve immediately, and decrease by 3% yearly in line with oil production. Oil-derived fuel prices will double immediately, and rise 3% year on year. Air transport for business and leisure purposes is to be prohibited immediately.

Non-food consumption must be cut by 50% immediately. When did you last go shopping and come back with no plastic? We have to cut plastic consumption by 80% immediately and eliminate it entirely within five years.

Those of you who think of yourselves as the cleanest and tidiest must do the most. Your use of so many cleaning products, so much hot water, and your discarding so many things for minor cosmetic blemishes is simply too wasteful. It is not clean or tidy, it is immensely dirty; it’s just that the mess is taken somewhere away from your sterile home.

Disposable products, from nappies to lightbulbs, will be prohibited with immediate effect. No compensation will be given to any corporation, as those who made the most profit have caused the most problem. If anything, they owe compensation.

These policies sound truly harsh, but they are the only realistic response to the crisis we are facing. These measures are unlike anything you’ve seen before, but we have never faced anything on the scale of this before. Cheap oil is the very basis of consumer capitalism, and it is running out at an ever increasing rate.

We in the industrialised nations have been like aristocrats’ children left alone for the weekend in their parents house, drinking dry the historic and irreplaceable wine cellar. The party was great while it lasted, but we now face a dreadful hangover and a permanently dry future. We are now at the time when we have to face being slung out from the party and on to the street, joining the poverty our wealth has enforced on the rest of the world for so long.

It grieves me to be your leader at this terrible time. I could have lied to you and continued to say this war was about the evils of Saddam Hussein, and left the problem of facing up to the end of cheap oil to my successors. But I have too much respect for you, the people, to do that. I understand that you are compassionate and intelligent, that you want to do the right thing. I want to give you this chance to prove it, to stop living a bloated life today at the expense of everyone tomorrow. And so I give you this chance to stop making war on the world and live within your means.

If, this week, you continue to consume your foods grown with oil-derived fertilisers and pesticides, harvested with tractors and flown in from around the world, if you continue to buy plastics and drive your cars, then we, as your elected servants, will understand that you want to keep on having cheap oil for as long as possible, and we will press ahead with war, safe in the knowledge that it is what you, the people, are actively asking us to do.