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Reasons and rationales

You know, I’m getting a little weary of hearing people tell me what the war on Iraq is about.

It’s not about the oil. If this were all a big plot to ensure Bush’s friends get their hands on oil, there are better places to go. There’s a crisis in Venezuela at the moment (link subject to change with time), and that’s in our hemisphere. Venezuela produces as much oil as Iraq. If it were about oil, we’d be heading down to South America to clean up that issue.

It was at least partially about oil in the Gulf War; the United States needed to head off any possibility that Iraq would take the Saudi oil fields. That was then. This is now. Find a new anti-war slogan; “No blood for oil” misses the point.

It’s not about terrorism. There aren’t any visible links. Sure, maybe the Iraqis are clever enough to back Al Qaeda without any signs visible by anyone other than US intelligence, but it’s unlikely, particularly given the clashing objectives of bin Laden and Hussein. Look at it this way: it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s still extensive Saudi money behind Al Qaeda. How come half the journalists in the free world can turn up evidence of that, but nobody can find proof that Hussein supports Al Qaeda?

It’s not about weapons of mass destruction. We are not attacking North Korea, despite the fact that they don’t have a nuclear program yet. They may have two nuclear weapons; that doesn’t mean that, given a strategy of preemptive nonproliferation, we shouldn’t keep them from getting the means to get more nuclear weapons. Two is bad; unlimited is very bad. There’s a qualitative difference between ‘em.

(By the by, the FAS reported the possibility of two North Korean nukes in 1999. This isn’t some random idea the Bush administration invented.)

But hey, forget about North Korea. What about Iran, which is quite possibly a nuclear power? Iran doesn’t even have UN inspectors; anything could be happening there.

Iraq is the best place for the US to exert influence in the Middle East. I’m not gonna get into the morality or lack thereof of this. I’d just like to see people stop pretending it’s anything else. There are going to be side benefits. Iraq sponsors terrorists other than Al Qaeda, of course. Iraq would love to get nuclear weapons, and it would be nice to keep that from happening, yes.

However, the important thing is that the US will wind up with its biggest presence ever in the Middle East. That, too, is something one can argue about for ages. Will it cause even greater resentment? Is it worth it in the long term? Lots of different opinions about that.

Regardless, though, it’s good to remember a couple of things. Bush isn’t doing this cause he’s nuts or bloodthirsty; he also isn’t doing it as an altruistic exercise for the good of the world. It is a calm, considered extension of American power into an important geopolitical area. It reduces the necessity to rely on Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia when conducting policy in the region.

Argue about that, but geeze, enough of the “no blood for oil” and enough of the 9/11 rhetoric and enough of the weapons of mass destruction.


  1. t.rev t.rev

    Okay, you’re now the second commentator on the issue who makes any damn sense to me. The other one is Christopher Hitchens, so you may or may not find this flattering.

  2. Heh. That’s a compliment; I have no doubt of Hitchen’s intelligence. Liberals who complain of his betrayal forget that he was, for example, asking tough questions about Hillary Clinton in 1999.

  3. Bryant, I’ve perhaps said this before, but I’m confident I’ll be saying it again: you’re one of the few sensible liberals I know of out there. Yes, that’s a compliment. 😉

    And the thing that really gets me is the refusal implicit in the “no blood for oil” mantra that oil isn’t inextricably linked to our national security. It is, and will continue to be until someone comes up with a (truly) viable alternative fuel, which will be a long time indeed. Hmm, I just realized that maybe I ought to be blogging this myself…

  4. Oops – that should be “refusal…TO RECOGNIZE that oil..” etc. Need more coffee…..

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