When people say it was or wasn't about the oil, i think they often
have in mind an earlier war that was to quite an extent about the
oil--WW II. Forces were positioned and battles fought quite literally
over the oil. And much of the lead up to the war was about controlling
resources while denying them to another country (e.g. US policies
towards Japan, Japan's aggressions in Asia, etc.).
Saddam Hussein's Iraq had become an 'enemy' over their dumping oil and
driving down oil prices--this certainly disrupted those parts of
capitalism that depend on controlling the price of oil for high
profits. It even had the effect of disrupting the US's 'energy policy'
because with the price of oil so low, it made shale and sand
petroleums so unattainable. Much of the other parts of capitalism
boomed, though--remember all the bubbles of the Clinton era that went
with cheap oil and a cheap dollar.
It's always been about the oil, about the control of the price of oil,
and control of bases near where the oil is (why else would the US have
had their CentCom more or less migrate to the ME--and now NE Africa).
But it clearly is something quite different than the US, Japan,
Germany and the Soviet Union fighting it out over oil supplies, oil
stores and refineries.
The other aspect of this is speculation on the price of oil. I suppose
the finance capitalists will be doing it until the last possible drop
has been pumped--and even beyond (so long as they can get free credit
to speculate). But it's more than a few firms buying and selling
speculative instruments on the future price of oil. Whole countries
and companies speculate now all the time on the price of commodities
and the values of currencies. And with oil you get a very strong
connection to currencies--namely, the US dollar. So it is an extremely
attractive thing to speculate over (esp. since credit is so cheap...or
actually free... if you are connected to the financial systems of the