Everyone on the left’s all aflutter about Alan Greenspan’s book, and the revelation that he said, at its crux, the Iraqi invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein was about oil.
When the anti-war folks saw “”the Iraq War is largely about oil,” they practically wet themselves. Here was a hugely-respected former public figure, a hero of the Right, giving them fresh ammunition for their “no blood for oil!” anti-battle cries.
Here’s a little secret, folks: he’s right. And anyone with a lick of common sense has known that from day one.
Oh, no, it’s nowhere as simple as you portray. The scary thing is, it’s even simpler.
Oil is, quite simply, the foundation of modern civilization. And the free flow of oil is the linchpin that holds it all together.
Imagine spending one day without oil. Just one day. No driving. Virtually no transportation whatsoever. Most likely no heat. Greatly reduced electricity.
And no plastics.
Get rid of most of your clothing, with its plastic fabrics. Your credit cards. Your computers. Your TV. Most — if not all — of your home electronics. Your appliances. In short, move right back about 150 years, because that’s what it would take to get by without oil. Oil is the lifeblood of our existence.
Now, where is the world getting most of its oil? That’s right, the Middle East. And that is the true source of the Islamist power in the world. Saudi Arabia would have fallen to the Islamists a long time ago if they weren’t sitting on top of zillions of dollars of cash, and could affort do keep paying the troublemakers to go somewhere else. Iran wouldn’t have the resources to develop nuclear weapons, and their periodic threats to close the Straits of Hormuz would result in endless shrugs.
If it wasn’t for oil, the world would look at the insanity that grips most of the Middle East and scold, then shrug — much like it does at the genocides in Africa. Because it simply wouldn’t matter to us.
That’s what Greenspan meant, and only a complete idiot or an utterly partisan hack could interpret it otherwise.
Now, our foreign policy would be a hell of a lot simpler if we did follow the principles (or, rather, lack of them) that the anti-war side accuses the Bush administration of following. If we were truly only interested in cheap oil, we’d have cut Israel loose and thrown them to the wolves decades ago. We’d have cut a deal with Saddam and let him get out of the sanctions — he was always willing to cut a deal with anyone to get his way.
Yeah, it’d be a lot simpler that way. But we have these pesky things called “principles” and “ideals” that get in the way. Quaint, antiquated notions like human rights and freedom and democracy and not liking slaughter and genocide.
So we try to strike a balance between idealism and pragmatism, trying to preserve the former while not selling it out to the latter. On that scale, the removal of Saddam was a decided blow to the pragmatic approach, as we could have made our lives a lot easier if we’d just come to an agreement with him — say, the same kind of discounts on oil in exchange for lifting of sanctions that he had already bought with folks from Russia and Germany and France and England.
But the price of such a deal would have been paid in blood — and not ours. It would have been paid by the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Kurds, a lot of other Iraqis, and — in the end — a lot of other innocent people.
That, in a nutshell, is the crux of the “no blood for oil!” movement. “Let someone else pay the price for our way of life.” It’s an all-too-common theme.
Thanks, but no thanks. I have enough trouble sleeping at night; I don’t need that on my conscience, too.