No War for Oil

We did not invade Iraq to take the oil.  We are not trading blood for oil, but conspiracy buffs have been saying we did for years now.  I think we now have definitive proof that these guys were wrong.  As I reread my note from yesterday, I realized the proof was before us.  I even mentioned it, but I cannot resist expanding a bit.

War opponents have changed arguments.  They now acknowledge that we are achieving success in Iraq.  All that talk about defeat, so common last year, is gone.  Now they are complaining that it costs too much.  They also point out that Iraq is rich enough to pay for its own reconstruction.  They have a point on both issues.  But consider the implications.

If you call upon Iraqis to pay more, you have to assume they CAN.  What does this say about your confidence in the capacity of the Iraqi government and economy?  You cannot simultaneously believe that Iraqi is collapsing into ruin and that they can afford to pay billions of dollars. The other thing that it says is that this was not a war for oil.  If CF went in to take the oil, we would not have to worry about asking the Iraqis to pay more of their own way.  It would be like somebody robbing a liquor store, not taking any money and in fact using his own money to help fix the place up.  I don’t think we would call that a robbery.

I am just getting sick of this war for oil crap.  It is juvenile.  Let me explain.  There is no doubt that w/o oil we would have been unlikely to have a strong interest in this country or region.  But that does not make it a war FOR oil.  Oil in a resource that allows those who control it to wield power.  If you have a tyrant in a poor country, he is a local menace.  Somebody like Robert Mugabe is a good example.  W/o the big money provided by a resource like oil, guys like Osama bin Laden and his followers would just be a nutty bunch of desert bandits.  Add oil to the equation – lots of oil – and you get lots of trouble.  A local psychopath can become a global threat when you inject the steroids of oil wealth. In some ways, therefore, the war is about oil but not for oil.  That distinction is very important. 

The oil curse is also the curse of easy and generally unearned wealth.  It tends to corrupt the recipients and it can make them dangerous. This is a variation on the point and don’t want to belabor it.  Those who know me understand that I sometimes can rant a bit, but now that rhetoric has changed from defeat in Iraq to success in Iraq is costing too much – and that Iraq can and should pay more – it should at least let us dispense with one of the more annoying pieces of disinformation.  There was no war for oil.