An elaboration from Max Sawicky, for readers perplexed by the obvious:
Here are the arguments I could find…for why this war couldn’t possibly be about oil.
1. The oil companies have not agitated for war. They want to keep doing business with dictators.
2. The best way to keep oil flowing is to maintain the status quo.
3. Oil is not needed to explain the demand for war; an important justification is Iraq’s flaunting of UN resolutions, resolutions even endorsed by France.
Kucinich is held to be a ‘fool’ for not grasping these self-evident truths.
Regarding (1), of course an oil company would be foolish to advocate war when it has to maintain relationships with Arab governments. It would also be foolish to gloss over the difference between buying oil and selling it. As buyer an oil company is a mere middleman. As seller it collects the economic rents inherent in the resource. Now the division of these rents depends entirely on the deal struck between the owner of a resource and the concern that obtains the right to exploit it. As owner, I might strike a deal that gives me ten percent of the rents or 90 percent. What determines the split? It depends on bargaining power and political power. Guess where that would be with a U.S. military government in charge of Iraq?
It is fair to say that there is some ideal price of oil in the New World Order. Too high retards economic growth everywhere. Too low fails to reward the owners of the resource, or it encourages wasteful use. As Thomas Friedman noted in a column a week or so ago, there is some happy medium, an important ingredient of which is stability in price, shipments, and the like. Now you might disagree with this view, but it would be stupid to call it stupid, much less a “lie.”
(2) The status quo is unstable. It has already been proven so. Arab and Muslim regimes are none too stable. More effective cartelization is a possibility. Stability makes perfect sense as an argument for U.S. takeover. Indeed, a rationale for ejecting Saddam from Kuwait was to prevent him from going on to Saudi Arabia and becoming the master of a huge share of world oil extraction. Of course, it also makes sense to fear political instability and terrorism resulting from a greater U.S. presence in the region. Look what a more limited presence has brought us thus far. Once again, possibly wrong but not stupid.
(3) Iraq’s conduct with respect to the UN is arguably a legal or moral justification for war. But from this standpoint, such a war is not necessarily in the U.S. interest. Other countries are in violation of UN resolutions, but are not by virtue of that automatic objects of military threat from the UN. The “even France” argument is irrelevant. France is not (and should not be) dedicating itself to advancing the U.S. national interest.
Personally, I do not think the war is motivated by a desire to expropriate Arab resources. That’s a mere side benefit. I do think it is motivated by a felt need to control and stabilize the region. One such purpose is to prevent uncertainty in energy production from becoming a factor for instability in the world economy. A second is to enhance Israeli security. A third is to preclude Arab and Muslim nationalism from spinning into a more assertive anti-U.S. mode. A fourth is to beat back terrorist threats. Why do I think this? In part, because Perle and others in the Administration have been talking this line for the past ten years.