Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says comments he wrote in his new book about the Iraq war lead-up should not be taken to mean that oil was the Bush administration's primary reason for going to war.

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive. ... I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential," Greenspan told The Washington Post, according to a story published Monday.

• Click here to read the full story in The Washington Post.

Greenspan remains one of the most influential global economic voices more than a year after leaving the Fed, the nation's bank of last resort. His new memoir, released Monday, has caused a stir with his statements about the Iraq war.

In the book, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," Greenspan writes, "the Iraq war is largely about oil." The comments, released before publication, put Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the defensive as he made the Sunday talk-show rounds following major recommendations on war policy last week.

"I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don't don't believe it's true," Gates said, appearing on ABC's "This Week."

Greenspan also told The Post that he never heard either President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney say "basically, 'We've got to protect the oil supplies of the world.'" Greenspan said that did not stop him from airing his views to the commander in chief.

His book appears on shelves Monday.