I rank the argument of "it's all about the oil" somewhere around "it's all about the corporations, maaaan" and "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." Very simple, easy explanations that explain complex, international economic and political phenomena for thoroughly dumb people who are too lazy to put much thought or effort into things. However, even though the Iraq war is effectively over and we've nowhere near the military force we had in the Mid East ten years ago, my mind was jarred to do a little math whilst listening to a podcast about Germany's synthetic oil industry during WWII. With the Allies cutting off Germany's access to the Baku and other oil regions, Germany was forced to produce oil synthetically which begat the question in Cappy's mind...
How much does it cost to create a synthetic barrel of oil?
This is an important question because the Iraq/Afghanistan war was not cheap. $2.4 trillion as of 2017. And so I asked "how much synthetic oil could we have produced with that money instead?" If it's all about the oil, synthetic or not, would it have been cheaper to just produce it at home...not to mention avoid all the death and destruction the war has cost both sides?
So the math goes like this:
The US imports 5.1 million barrels per day from the Mid East region. Not Iraq (that's only .61 million barrels), not OPEC (that's only 3.4) the ENTIRE region is 5.1 million barrels per day. The reason I took the entire region is you know these Neanderthal "It's All About the Oil" dopes are going to say "you know maaaaannn, it wasn't just about Iraq, but the entire region maaaaan."
So fine, 5.1 million barrels per day it is.
This translates into 1.9 billion barrels per year, which when you apply the $95 per barrel it is estimated to cost to produce it synthetically, you're looking at an annual price tab for synthetic oil of $177 billion to replace Mid East oil. This compares to the annual cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan war of $172 billion, so a profit of $5 billion per year, effectively a net wash (though I'd argue a $150 billion loss per year if you assume we were merely going after only Iraqi oil).
When you consider this it is painfully obvious we did not go to war in the Mid East (at any time) because "it was all about the oil maaaan." There was no profit to be had in it, merely the unnecessarily cost of human lives, the destruction of military property, and the human/collateral damage Iraq and Afghanistan would face. Additionally, if you believe in Keynesianism, even leftists would have to admit that that money would have been better spent/invested at home, creating jobs and an economic boom derived from a domestic synthetic oil industry.
Admittedly, I know this little back of napkin math exercise will prove largely pointless. The knuckle-dragging, mouth breathers known as academic and professional activist leftists won't care because they need something to complain about (let alone I doubt they can understand the basic division and multiplication displayed above). But if/when do run into these people again, just remind them of this the sad fact. It should cut the argument short and hopefully get them to shut up about "blood for oil" and allow you to move on about your day.