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Liberal_Jihad_Cover.jpg Forward USA

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Debates: President Bush Couldn’t Assert One of the Most Important Reasons for the Iraq War

What was only inferentially mentioned in the first President debate is, in fact, the paramount concern for the entire free world: access to Middle Eastern oil exports.

One of the most important reasons for deposing Saddam Hussein and for having, now and for the long-term future, a major military presence in Iraq can not be asserted in public debate, because Americans have for nearly two hundred years been fed a sugar-coated version of foreign affairs to insulate them from reality.  Too many people would be shocked, and liberals would have a political field day, if any administration stated the unvarnished truth:  if terrorists succeed in limiting or blocking our access to Middle Eastern oil, they will have won the war.  We will no longer have the resources to fight back.

American foreign policy since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 has been too often a matter of high-flown and vacuous idealism, and too seldom a matter of hard-headed realism.  The Vietnam War added another layer of obfuscation by depicting American military action as genocidal imperialism, leading the Baby Boomers, our largest population segment, to deplore the essentials of national defense.

Americans, until the age of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, fancied that they lived in splendid isolation, with no need to concern themselves with the diplomatic maneuvering and military skirmishing that had characterized European affairs since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  We were impregnable, it seemed, protected by vast oceans on both sides.  There was no need for us to become involved in foreign affairs.  Let other nations settle control of strategic sea lanes and access to vital minerals and other supplies.  We were a morally pure nation, unstained by such vulgarities.

Such illusions lead to dangerous complacency in the face of impending threats to our national security.  Such illusions can lead to foolhardy moves in the foreign policy arena.

Most damaging was our illusion that conflicts between nations can be resolved entirely by negotiations in forums like the UN.  Liberal-socialist theories about world opinion, the community of nations, and international law created an artificial world with little connection to reality.  After World War I, Germany, Japan, and Soviet Russia followed the dictates of cold reality and power politics, while we believed that proclamations of international brotherhood would deter aggression.

This penchant for avoidance of reality appeared early in our history.  The public, and Congress too, firmly believed that European nations did not meddle in the affairs of Western hemisphere nations solely because the United States had declared in the Monroe Doctrine, as a matter of moral principle, that they should not do so.  Few outside the inner counsels of government were aware that the Monroe Doctrine had been worked out in consultation with the British foreign minister George Canning.  Few knew that enforcement of the doctrine was entirely dependent upon the supporting presence of the British navy, at a time when Britain controlled all the world’s oceans. 

After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 at Waterloo, England was the dominant military and commercial power in the world.  Having struggled militarily with France all around the world for more than a hundred years, England was happy to put teeth in the Monroe Doctrine.  Without the British navy, France and Spain would have been irresistibly drawn to meddle again in Western hemisphere affairs, from Canada, to Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America.

France’s take-over of Mexico in 1858 is ample proof.  While the United States was preoccupied with the escalating tensions that led to the Civil War in 1861, Napoleon III sent an army to Mexico and created a hostile empire on our southern border.  For its own reasons, England chose not to intervene to stop France.  Only French ineptitude that led to the collapse of Emperor Maximillian saved us from a potential war with France’s Mexican Empire to prevent its expansion into our southwestern territories.

Such illusions led us to fight Woodrow Wilson’s “War to End All Wars” in 1917, not realistically to restore a balance of power in European affairs, but to teach Germany a moral lesson.  Idealistic illusions led us to place our faith after the war in the collective security concept represented by the League of Nations and international disarmament conferences.  As a consequence, we were militarily unprepared to fight World War II and paid for it with extra years of build-up and tens of thousands of extra military casualties.  Our addiction to such illusions led President Peanut Carter to surrender control of the Panama Canal, which was guarded by troops from Communist China, one of our potential enemies, after the American hand-over.  President Carter and other liberals happily welcomed this expression of international brotherhood.

In the first Presidential debate Friday night, Senator Kerry said, “To save for Halliburton the spoils of the war, they actually issued a memorandum from the Defense Department saying, “If you weren’t with us in the war, don’t bother applying for any construction.” ” 

Halliburton has become a code word implying both that Republicans are buddy-buddy with crooked corporate executives, and that Republicans are scheming secretly to hand over vast windfalls to those crooked corporate executives in exchange for their financial support in elections.  Halliburton, of course, is heavily involved in oil field services.  In the streets around the world, liberals scream, “No Blood for Oil.”

A typical statement of this view appeared in an October 2, 2002 AlterNet posting entitled No Blood For Oil Redux:

“The planned ouster of Saddam Hussein is about many things ? empire-building, the November elections, and diverting attention from the economy.  It is also about oil ? 113 billion barrels of it.  That is the size of Iraq’s oil reserve, second only to Saudi Arabia. And a sympathetic regime in Baghdad will mean big bucks for U.S. oil companies. According to Robert Collier, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle , “The world’s biggest oil bonanza in recent memory may be just around the corner, giving U.S. oil companies huge profits and American consumers cheap gasoline for decades to come,” all thanks to the war on Iraq.”

The writer’s presumption is that U. S. oil companies would be allowed to seized Iraq’s oil reserves after the war and manage them as private property.  Otherwise, how could deposing Saddam Hussein put U.S. oil companies in a better position than they already had?  There might be a larger supply of oil, but that would lower prices and profits.

Whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not, Iraq’s strategic geopolitical location alone, at the center of the world’s greatest petroleum resources, necessitated preemptively protecting Iraq from terrorist control.  The world’s free access to Middle Eastern oil, whoever controlled it, had to be maintained. 

Without adequate petroleum supplies, we would be incapable of defending the United States.  Military forces need fuel supplies as much as they need bullets and bombs.  And the industrialized western world would plunge into a severe economic depression as businesses everywhere had to shut down and layoff workers.  An American President who failed to protect the free world’s access to its major oil supply would be guilty of criminal negligence.

It is clear that Arab nations and Islamic radicals long ago recognized the strategic advantage that this provided them.  Israeli Prime Minister Golda Maier warned western nations in the 1960s that the Arabs might play the oil card in their struggle to defeat Israel.  The Arabs might give us the choice of no oil or no Israel. 

After 9/11 the stakes were higher: submission of the Western world to Islamic jihad.  Every country in the world potentially would become subject to terrorist blackmail far more terrible that today’s random bombings and assassinations.  Almost every aspect of modern daily life depends upon energy resources, the greatest of which are petroleum coming from the Middle East.  Everything from hospitals to businesses would be put on short hours or closed down entirely.

Note that the Soviet Union, for just that reason, repeatedly sponsored uprisings in the Middle East in the years after World War II.  The Soviets wanted both to gain control of the oil for their own uses, and equally to deny it to the West.  Preventing this was one of the explicit aims of our cold war policy of containment.  Today’s action in Iraq is simply a continuation of that containment policy, this time against Islamic terrorists.

In this picture Iraq occupies the central and crucial geographic and political position.  It lies in the middle of the world’s greatest known petroleum reserves.  In addition to its own huge reserves, those of Iran lie on its eastern border, of Kuwait, on its southern border, and the greatest of all, Saudi Arabia on its western border.  Whoever controls Iraq can prevent domination of Middle Eastern oil supplies by Islamic terrorists.  Conversely, Islamic radicals controlling Iraq could shut off oil exports to the free world.

Having a large contingent of battle-tested troops on the ground in Iraq gives us the capacity to stop military incursions from Iran and Syria in sufficient strength to take control of the the oil fields.  Kuwait can be protected by allied troops in southern Iraq and by our naval forces in the Persian Gulf.  The presence of our troops, plus behind-the-scenes diplomatic pressure, compels the Saudi royal family to stop or diminish funding for Islamic radicals and encourages them to root out and destroy Al Queda cells within Saudi Arabia.

The bottom line effect is to keep Middle Eastern oil flowing to the rest of the world.  It is entirely satisfactory if Arabs and Persians continue to own all these oil reserves and to profit from oil exportation.  We want only to keep the oil flowing.

To that end, it was essential to depose Saddam Hussein and foreclose his collusion with terrorists to put a strangle-hold on Middle Eastern oil exports.  And it will remain essential for many decades to keep large, permanent military bases in Iraq, just as we maintained bases in Germany for more than forty years during the Cold War to deter the Soviet Union.