The View From 1776
Saturday, October 02, 2004
More on “Blood for Oil”
A few supplemental viewpoints.
Opposition to the war in Iraq under the banner of “No Blood for Oil” boils down to two basic arguments:
(1) We should not fight a war to enrich big corporations, an argument that presumes no purpose in protecting oil sources other than undeserved profit for the capitalist elite.
(2) And protecting the environment is more important than access to oil supplies; we shouldn’t be using all that oil in the first place. For this argument, liberals deem it sufficient to say that The Rich are driving too many SUVs and that we should switch to alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power to “protect the planet.” If that prevents our satellite networks and military forces from functioning, then well and good.
Both positions leave us with the question, “Is nothing worth fighting and dying for? Water? Food? Liberty?” Is the only justifiable principle of foreign policy, to use the terminology of the Vietnam War-era Baby Boomers, solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world who are victims of American imperialism?
Senator Kerry, an anti-War Baby Boomer, states what amounts to this position in a slightly different way. He says that he supports wars to defend the United States. But the Senator also repeatedly says that we should have invaded Iraq only with the support of all our allies. For example, to debate moderator Jim Lehrer’s question whether he supports preemptive wars, Senator Kerry said, “But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.”
Passing “the global test” presumes that we can do, for the whole world, what the United States could not accomplish under the Articles of Confederation. Even in a nation that had just fought the 1776 war to secure independence from England, with all the common interests among a people united with regard to language, religion, history, and political traditions, it was impossible to govern when unanimous consent of all the states was required to pass laws.
Passing “the global test” is literally impossible. There will never be a single issue at any time upon which all the nations of the world agree that our policy is legitimate, simply because the interests of one nation will always be in conflict to some degree with the interests of other nations. Centuries of warfare among the peoples of Europe to resolve their differences make clear that getting unanimous backing even among our historical allies will be impossible. Today, after a generation of preparation under the leadership of Senator Kerry’s beloved France, the European Union is at an impasse over its own proposed constitution, simply because of the unavoidable fact that nations have different national interests.
The following are a selection of articles written before, or early into, the Iraqui war. They illuminate aspects of the issue of “Blood for Oil” not covered in The Debates: President Bush Couldn’t Assert One of the Most Important Reasons for the Iraq War.
The liberal opposition view is presented in Beating the Drums of War, an article published in Socialism Today, the website of the Socialist Party Magazine.
In Blood for Oil? Cool! - A Justifiable War, Thomas Lindaman points out that oil is just one among many commodities, albeit a vital one, and that the history of the world is a record of struggle among tribes and nations for control of commodities to improve their living conditions.
Blood for Oil? by Jerry Taylor amplifies the point that gaining control of Iraq’s oil reserves would be anything but a bonanza for “big oil.” Mr. Taylor also reminds us that French and Russian opposition to the United States in the UN Security Council was to protect their own preferential position with regard to Iraqui oil, a preference gained by their illegal arms trade with Saddam in defiance of UN sanctions.
The PoliticalMachine website, in a posting entitled Blood for oil? You bet. points out that Saddam Hussein, as early as 1979, saw that control of oil was his real lever to political power over the Middle East. To consolidate control of petroleum reserves he commenced an eight-year war with oil-rich Iran, then invaded Kuwait, claiming that it was stealing oil that belonged to Iraq.
With or without WMD, Saddam or Al Queda would again attempt to gain control of the region’s oil reserves. Saddam had only to wait for UN patience to evaporate, with France and Russia strenuously pushing for elimination of the existing and ineffectual sanctions. By allowing Al Queda training bases in Iraq, Saddam also appeared to be aligning Iraq with their efforts to drive the United States out of the Middle East.
Finally, A War for Oil? So What? demonstrates that the liberals’ “Blood for Oil” assertion has no basis in fact. It is merely the old Marxist tactic of guilt by implication: if the United States needs oil, and Iraq has oil, then the United States can only be attacking Iraq to confiscate its oil.