This little exchange occurred via e-mail. Recorded here for posterity.
Lair Stene: Please give me a reality check:
Somewhere between the cynical (we’re invading at the direction of a president who came to power in a coup, supported by an Administration made up of Texans, who want their own private Texas-sized oil well in the Middle East) and the naive (this is only about – mix ‘n match – the war on terrorism, enforcing UN resolution x, WMDs, installing democracy, saving Iraqi children, or the President’s megalomaniacal fixation on the demise of the guy who tried to kill his dad), is the truth that one of the drivers for this war is indeed oil.
There are some good strategic reasons, in terms of world economics and geopolitical power. One I haven’t heard discussed is that friendly control of the Iraqi (and Kuwaiti, for practical purposes) oil supplies effectively breaks the back of OPEC, a wild card that the world market can do without. Admittedly, it hasn’t caused a lot of trouble lately, but we’ve seen the havoc that it can cause. And we’ve seen our normally reliable Venezuelan supplies restricted recently – our largest source second to Middle East oil. And the early plan of drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge has reelection risks.
Frankly, a stable global market for oil benefits the world, not unlike keeping the sea lanes open, another cause we will take unilateral military action to support. I would have preferred an honest discussion of the benefits of a stable world market for oil to the constantly shifting moral excuses that have been used to support the impending war (not precluding that there may be some validity to one or two).
Sam: Yup. No doubt about it. It’s one of the curious quirks of human society that we have things we just won’t say. In a case like this, they know it’s about oil (among other things, of course, as you note, but everybody knows oil is a reality), we know it’s about oil, the whole world knows it’s about oil, and if they came out and said it’s about oil, and made the case that we have to act to secure valid economic interests, especially since the failure to do so would destroy the global economy, I think the argument would fly.
But we can’t say it, because it isn’t a moral argument. Which is odd, since taking action to prevent economic disaster, which would claim untold lives, strikes me as being quite moral.
More moral than the somewhat fuzzy, drum-and-fife corps flag-waving rationale we’re being given instead? You make the call….