December 16, 2006
Sometimes, in trying to keep posts succinct and focused, I can overdo it. One of the hazards of blogging. In a post last Monday, I wrote:
There's a kind of collective mental illness at work when people can get away with suggesting that the Iraq war is not about oil. As if the US would have even noticed (let alone invaded) Iraq were it located in a part of the world where the principal export was, say, bean sprouts.
I first wrote "had nothing to do with oil", then changed to "is not about oil" in the interests of brevity. Unfortunately, it came out sounding like I was saying the war was only about oil, and anybody who disagrees with me is mentally ill. Not what I meant.
I do think the oil of Iraq, and of the Middle East generally, was and is a prime motivation for the US war. But I also think a confluence of other interests were served. PNAC neocons wanted an opportunity to stun the rest of the world into a state of "shock and awe" at US military power (that didn't work out too well). The Halliburtons and Raytheons of the world stood to make a whole lot of money. Bush/Rove Republicans thought war would give them a permanent lock on power. And, certainly not least, a hard-core faction of pro-Israel neocons sought to advance the agenda of Israel's right wing. Honest observers can differ on how they rank the relative influence of these interest groups, but I think they're all real, all important.
My crack about "collective mental illness" referred to the massive level of denial that lets American politicians and media celebrities get away with talking about the war as a well-intentioned, if misguided, campaign to bring democracy to the Middle East (among other putative "good guy" motives), as if the US military were some kind of "bizarre armed charity", as Nicholas von Hoffman put it. Talk about divorced from reality. If Americans knew any history, which they mostly don't, they'd know how the US reacts when foreign voters choose the "wrong" leader (see, for example, Mossadegh, Arbenz, Allende, Chavez). So much for US "democratizing."
Brave heart, Jonathan. I knew exactly what you meant and think anyone not looking for verbal loopholes would know it, too: When people say, as some still insist on doing, that "Iraq is not about oil," they do mean precisely that the war has nothing to do with oil. That's the only reading that makes sense.
Posted by: LarryE at December 17, 2006 02:02 AM