By Bill Henderson
21 December, 2006
While the Bush administration,
the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war
in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study
Group share no such reticence.
Page 1, Chapter 1 of the
Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the
U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest
known oil reserves."
An administration full of
oilmen, cognizant of 'peak oil' and America's dependence upon a Middle
East containing 60% of the world's remaining cheap oil, faced with a
dictator in oh so central and tempting, incredibly oil-rich Iraq, who
as a sworn enemy was threatening oil flow not only from Iraq but from
the wider Gulf, chose a military solution: shock and awe and regime
The neocon faction within
the Bush Admin manipulated 9/11 and fear of terrorism into a pretext
for already planned aggression in Iraq. They broke American and international
law but fantasized that a democratic, neoliberal Iraq of their creation
would turn the course of Middle Eastern geopolitics to America's long
term benefit (and Israel's long term benefit too, of course).
The war went incredibly well.
But they mis-managed the immediate stabilization after victory and made
a mess of building a client state in Iraq. And the blatant and cynically
illegal aggression created an immense backlash throughout the Middle
East, the wider Islamic world, and globally, inflaming potential terrorists
and severely weakening America's leadership position.
A destabilized Iraq sliding
into civil war now threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East.
The growing Sunni-Shia conflict threatens to engulf Saudi Arabia and
the other oil producing states. Military unilateralism has also heated
up the quarter century old cold war between America and Iran with both
sides planning potential military action around the crucial Persian
Gulf. Disastrous blundering in Iraq now threatens not only the flow
America has no choice but
to solve this now mission impossible. (And for all-important domestic
political reasons American leadership must also at least pretend to
be considering a timetable for removing troops from the quagmire.)
Given necessary lead times
it is several decades too late to initiate Geogreen innovation to wean
America from imported oil from the Middle East. It is in all probability
too late to switch to a diplomatic strategy for pacifying a now inflamed
hornet's nest even if, now in the worst of times, a Palestine-Israel
settlement, an Israeli-Lebanon-Syrian settlement, an American-Iranian
settlement and/or a Shia-Sunni settlement were possible.
The hawkish option is a major
escalation of American military might in an effort to re-establish control.
Such an escalation that would have to include Iran would in all probability
risk shutting off the flow of oil from the Gulf at least temporarily,
maybe for far longer, precipitating God knows what in the American and
global economies. Such a major escalation of hostilities also risks
a much wider geopolitical destabilization.
(It is still possible in
some circles to fantasize a rebuilt Middle East put back together in
an enlightened manner where all would benefit from democracy and prosperity.)
The Bush Admin choice of
the resource war path in Iraq as an escalation of America's historic
policy to secure Middle East oil was a serious provocation against China
and Russia. Success meant American control of the Middle East and an
America determined and capable of controlling needed resources globally.
Failure has emboldened each and every enemy of America, but desperation
could lead to far worse, presently unimagined, outcomes including a
final, nuclear, world war.
The present shallow debate
about American options in Iraq has mostly ignored both the central importance
of American dependence upon the continuing flow of cheap oil from the
Middle East and the fundamental Iraq illegality and unilateralist contempt
for an international rule of law and co-operation shown by the Bush
Admin. America's governing class is still in denial and so there are
no solutions on the horizon, only a deepening quagmire.
Share Your Insights