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Thursday, July 28, 2005

He's Sorta Right: Bob Herbert Says It's All about the OIL

Offering living proof that real thought is not a requirement for a NY Times opinion piece writer, Bob Herbert offers Oil and Blood - full of real liberal gems:
It is now generally understood that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has become a debacle. Nevertheless, Iraqis are supposed to have their constitution ratified and a permanent government elected by the end of the year. It's a logical escape hatch for George W. Bush. He could declare victory, as a senator once suggested to Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam, and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

His mantra would be: There's a government in place. We won. We're out of there.

But don't count on it. The Bush administration has no plans to bring the troops home from this misguided war, which has taken a fearful toll in lives and injuries while at the same time weakening the military, damaging the international reputation of the United States, serving as a world-class recruiting tool for terrorist groups and blowing a hole the size of Baghdad in Washington's budget....
Why no withdrawal plans? Of course, "It's the oil, stupid." and a "neoconservative" agenda to take over the world:
The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

But dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.'s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but the primary consideration is that there is still a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. And neocon fantasies aside, the global competition for the planet's finite oil reserves intensifies by the hour.
And, despite the advice given so freely by the Herbert side to not go in the first place and to get out as soon as possible, the war will last forever and it will be awful:
That should be understood by the people who think that the formation of a permanent Iraqi government will lead to the withdrawal of American troops. There is no real withdrawal plan. The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely.
After all, it's all about the oil.

But the oil wars have long been with us. Part of the war with Japan was "all about the oil (and the tin, rubber, etc)." You might recall that Japan lacks certain natural resources and decided that it should embark on its own form of "manifest destiny" - the "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" to acquire them. Some people feel the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was provoked when the US embargoed its oil shipments to Japan. Part of HItler's plan in WWII was to acquire the oil fields of Rumania and Russia as Germany didn't have any of its own... Part of our effort in fighting those powers was to interdict their supply of - you got it- oil. US and allied submarines sank the Japanese merchant fleet (especially tankers) and the Japanese war machine began to grind to a halt. Tell the widows and mothers who sons flew over Ploesti that it wasn't "about the oil." German U-boats attacked US tankers driving up the coast from Texas and pipelines were put in place to keep the oil flowing. And don't forget the "tanker war". Oil, oil, oil.

But so what? Thomas P. M. Barnett has response to the "blood-for-oil" crowd:
But the oil is also the region's salvation on one crucial level: at least the Middle East has our attention. Whenever I field that "blood-for-oil" question from audiences, I typically respond, "Hell, yes, it's all about oil. Thank God it's all about oll. Because I can show you parts of the world where there isn't any oil, and there's plenty of people dying, and no one seems to care whatsoever." There's no denying that oil has been the curse of the Arab economic development, as it hasd been for numerous other countries around the world, but without it, the Middle East's pain woud be as distant to most Americans as that half-a-holocaust that's already unfolded in Central Africa over the last decade. As Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times warns, we had all better be prepared to explain to our kids and grandchildren when they inevitably ask, "What did you do during the African Holocaust?" You want to know why you haven't attended any peace rallies or war protest marches on that one? Because there's no oil there, so American troops aren't sent, so millions die with no one paying any serious attention. That's what "no oil" plus "no US blood" equals. Doesn't exactly feel like the moral high ground, does it? (pg.216, The Pentagon's New Map(paperback, Berkley Books, NY, 2005)
So, yes, Mr. Herbert, It's about oil and oil and the interconnection between the "Functioning Core" and the "Non-Integrating Gap" and the forces of freedom and the forces of repression and regression to the 14th century.

In my view you have offered your voice to the latter group. Next time you watch Hotel Rwanda, ponder what the lack of oil cost...

So, Iraq, with a new government and the promise of a constitution is a debacle. What do you say of Kosovo, Rwanda. Ivory Coast, Uganda, Darfur...?

Update: Debacle:
de·ba·cle (dĭ-bä'kəl, -băk'əl, dĕb'ə-kəl)
1. A sudden, disastrous collapse, downfall, or defeat; a rout.
2. A total, often ludicrous failure.
Really, Mr. Herbert? "Generally understood?"

Update2: Related items: Failed States Map here and the Pentagion's New Map here (info on the book here.
Show me where globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security, and I will show you regions featuring stable governments, rising standards of living, and more deaths by suicide than murder. These parts of the world I call the Functioning Core, or Core. But show me where globalization is thinning or just plain absent, and I will show you regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and—most important—the chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists. These parts of the world I call the Non-Integrating Gap, or Gap.

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