Sunday, August 06, 2006

Blood For Oil -- Heading For The Helicopters

I often wonder what would have happened if Bush and Cheney just copped to their stuff at the beginning of the war. I would have loved to have them say:

"We can't have a region with such an important source of our oil controlled by Saddam Hussein, someone who we consider unstable. Especially with China and India about to come on line."

Maybe we would have solved the energy crisis by now. My own view is that we can not leave Iraq until we solve our energy crisis, and the global warming that is resulting from it. We could solve our energy crisis any day we put the political will behind it.


Of course, that's one view of the rationale behind the War. But it is a long war, and rationales change.

I don't even think that the rationale I gave for the war above is the real one anymore. That's the one I thought they were using in March 2003. I assumed they went in to support America's oil supply. I also assumed they went in to enhance and enforce imperial perogatives under the Patriot Act.

I have come to believe that Bush and Cheney went into Iraq solely to loot the country for themselves, personally (i.e. the Carlyle Group and Halliburton) and their friends. They didn't need to have a particularly large army to accomplish their task. That's one of the reasons they have never bothered to ask for one.

It makes a difference, of course, especially to the families of the Americans who have died, essentially, to protect the personal net worth of certain people.

However, that does not mean that the United States can leave now that we are there.

My own view is that we can not leave Iraq until we have solved the energy crisis, and the global warming that is resulting from it. And we can solve the energy crisis in a single day on any day we have the political will to do it.

In the meantime, we cannot let our energy supply get cut off (even if the people who profit by it are Carlyle Group, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, etc.). We cannot let Iraq slip into civil war, or be split into three parts, or be fought over by Iran, Syria, Turkey and who knows who.

All that takes a much greater commitment in time and soldiers than anyone is willing to give it.


Tom Friedman calls for a "Plan B" , which is huge news. His last straw, it turns out, is the notion of the United States babysitting an Iraqi Civil War.

"If Iraq opts for all-out civil war, its two million barrels a day will be off the market and oil could go above $100 a barrel. (That would, however, spur more investment in alternative fuels that could one day make us independent of this volatile region.) ...

"Some fear that Iran will be the winner. But will it? Once we are out of Iraq, Iran will have to manage the boiling pot next door. That will be a huge problem for Iran. The historical enmity toward Iran by Iraqi Arabs — enmity temporarily focused on us —will re-emerge. And Iran will also have to compete with its ally Syria for influence in Iraq."

All that was true three years ago, so I am not sure what Friedman has learned in the meantime that has made him call for a Plan B. Tom Friedman's rationales for supporting this war have been, I think I am stating this correctly (i) that we had to answer 9/11 directly on Arab soil (Afghanistan is not Arab soil), (ii) that the way to end the cauldron of violence in the Middle East was to give the people in the Middle East some reason for hope, (iii) that the best best way to give the people some hope was to enable them, if possible, or to drag them, if necessary, into the new millenium, and (iv) a working democracy in the Middle East would destabilize the region in ways that were positive for the United States, and negative for the forces of autocracy and radical conservatism and the mid-eval in the Middle East.

Maybe Friedman is in despair that this Administration is not willing to go the extra step to accomplish that goal. Maybe he sees that the fellow who fancies himself a "war-time" President is too "out of his element" to make a serious choice about extending the war. Maybe Friedman is in unwilling to wait the Administration out until a new President makes proper choices. Any new President, other than Jeb Bush or Dick Cheney would make those proper choices. Any new President, other than Jeb or Dick, will either solve the energy crisis (and the global warming that results from it) properly or extend the war properly. Tragically, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that Dick Cheney is most likely to be the next President. A surer bet is that Dick Cheney will be the Republican nominee for Vice President, again, in 2008.

Whatever Friedman was thinking, a lot of us wanna-be "thinkers" are just feeding off his lead. So it is a tremendous brain drain on we few remaining Democrat supporters of the war.


It is also a brain drain to have to listen to Donald Rumsfeld talk about how if we leave Iraq it will mean that the United States will not be able to defend its own interests in Spain. Anytime one of these conservatives want to say that criticizing the President gives aid and comfort to the enemy, I want to reply that nothing gives more aid and comfort to the forces of terrorism and darkness than the fact that Donald Rumsfeld still has a position of authority.


Krauthammer , who used to be with us in the sensible Gore-loving center, and now writes and ghost-writes drivel for the Administration, says that Israel is blowing its opportunity to get George out of a jam.

" ... Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan immediately came out against Hezbollah and privately urged the United States to let Israel take down that organization. They know that Hezbollah is fighting Iran's proxy war not only against Israel but also against them and, more generally, against the United States and the West.

"Hence Israel's rare opportunity to demonstrate what it can do for its great American patron. The defeat of Hezbollah would be a huge loss for Iran, both psychologically and strategically. Iran would lose its foothold in Lebanon. ...

"The United States has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen. It has counted on Israel's ability to do the job. It has been disappointed. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership. Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his generals the ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later."

It seems to me, reading everything, that America is looking for Israel to win another 6-Day War. I think if they can do it in 36 Days, that would work as well. However, I agree with Krauthammer, and John Podhoretz, and other people who I am not supposed to agree with, that the point is to damage Hezbollah, as quickly as possible, and not to be too nice about it.

I've said it a lot of times on this blog. Israel's actions do not radicalize the Arab Street. The presence of Jews in the Middle East radicalizes the Arab Street. Israel needs to answer to itself (just as America ought to be answering to itself at Gitmo and Abu Gharib), but it does not need to answer those who seek to completely destroy it, or any of their European fellow-travelers. As long as there is an Israel, there will be a Hezbollah, and when Hezbollah is set down, something else will rise up to replace it.