Iraq is because of oil

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All the time I hear people say that the U.S. invaded Iraq because of oil, money, or some other dumber reason. Oil is not a dumb reason.

America

We don’t need Iraqi oil, we were getting most of our oil from other places, we have larger national reserves than any other developed country and we have alternatives that we could develop if necessary within a decade or so. (Natural Gas, hydrogen, and so on). The main reason we don’t is the economics; oil is cheap and abundant. When that changes, society will adapt. But for now, oil fuels the world economy.

Europe

Europe is far more dependent on Iraqi oil. And the world economy is balanced on things like stability of oil markets. Having a murderous tyrant, who invades his neighbors, gasses his own people, sponsors terror, and destabilizes the region, squatting on the oil reserves and trying to develop nukes and biologicals does a lot to harm the world’s stability and thus the U.S.’s security and stability. Giving him weapons, and ignoring what he does with them, may buy the peace in the short term, but at a really high cost. We learned the costs with Pol Pot, Hitler, and others; the Europeans seem to enjoy repeating their same mistakes -- over, and over again.

Iraq was about our Presidents sincere belief that if we plant the seeds of Democracy in the middle-east, that it will spread, force reforms on other countries, teach the terrorists and nations that harbor them that they are not “safe” to commit any acts. Thus success means violence (terrorism) would cool down, and the region will be- come more stable; long term. We could argue that ego and finishing his dad’s work had something to do with it as well, and I’m sure that mattered a little, along with a few dozen other reasons all far more valid than “this was just about oil”.

What about the places we didn't free because they didn't have oil?

Some say, “if it wasn’t about oil, then why not go into Iran, Rwanda, Syria, China, North Korea”, and so on.

  • Iran has oil, so if we went in there, we would be accused of that about being about oil there too; when the truth would be it would be about a dozen things ranging from the Shah, em- bassy prisoners, nuclear weapons, totalitarianism, ego, stability, and yes, oil is definitely a factor -- just not the only one or even primary one. If it was, then why didn’t we go in there back in the 80’s?
  • Ask Clinton why he didn’t go into Rwanda, that was under his watch. In fact ask the whole U.N., since they looked the other way. But we did go to Bosnia and other places that didn’t have oil. So we have tried to stop genocide or fight for democracy (Korea, Vietnam, Panama). The world just seems to place value on Europeans higher than Asians, which are higher than Midddle-easterners, which are higher than Africans or other aboriginal people’s. I don’t think that’s completely right, but part of it is about their influence on the world economy as well as racism.
  • Syria is so far a small player, and we’re starting to work on them.
  • China or Saudi Arabia; they aren’t exactly democratic utopias, but both have been getting better. We have patience and do what we can; and attacking our only allies in the region (Saudi Arabia) because they aren’t moving fast enough, is a dumb move. We can’t do much about China but pressure them, and we try to work with the giant. So we fix what we can, when we can. That’s diplomacy.
  • North Korea is isolated and we had a war with them already (remember?). We’re trying to pressure them through their sponsors and neighbors -- in another 10 or 20 years, the amount of time we gave Iraq, we might go in there as well; but for now we pick our battles.

Conclusion

The facts are that we’ve gone into dozens of countries that didn’t have oil to help and so on. We ignored other countries. We can only do a couple things at a time. Syria and Iran are big problems; but we picked the biggest problem first, the one with the longest and worst history. Iraq is an example to the rest; a strong hint. Give it a few years and see if they take it. We’ll exhaust other opportunities before going after them, but just having our army on their borders has mellowed both countries a bit. (They upped the rhetoric, but are negotiating in better faith knowing there may be consequences).

If it was just about oil, there would have been far better targets. We didn’t have to spend so much on nation building -- we could build big bases around the oil fields and rape the Iraqi people like the Europeans were doing with Saddam. Oil just means that we had to take the threat to the region more seriously. Oil means that Iraq had a lot more money to rebuild infrastructure and gives us a chance to rebuild them for a fraction of the cost. Oil means that long term they could eventually sus- tain themselves and defend themselves; that is harder to do for Rwanda, Somalia and countries like that. So the war isn’t just about oil, but oil and their economy is certainly a factor. Oil meant more to France, Germany, Russia, China and the U.N. who stole oil from the Iraq people, and got mad that we staunched the flow of their corruption. Money in illegal arms flow meant more to those countries as well. We were fighting about long term stability and injustice, trying to change the long term security situation. Oil just increases our chances for success.

Written: 2005.08.04