Monday, April 07, 2003

No blood for oil??
Is this a war for oil? The Washington Post's Thomas W. Lippman doesn't think so and he's outlined why not. Its a pretty poor argument and to prove it so I'm setting myself the challenge to refute his articles main points, with references, in 10 minutes. It's 10.48pm, so here goes...

Lippman: “First, if the United States felt compelled to increase its access to oil from Iraq, it could do so by getting the U.N. Security Council to lift the economic sanctions that restrict Iraqi output -- no bloodshed necessary....”

An easy one. As Iraq has started selling it's oil in Euros, it's the issue of what currently the oil is sold in as much as how much is sold - Geoffrey Heard; "This debate is not about whether America would suffer from losing the US dollar monopoly on oil trading -- that is a given -- rather it is about exactly how hard the USA would be hit."


Lippman: "Then assume the worst in Saudi Arabia: Militant anti-American extremists seize control of the government. Such rulers might refuse to sell oil directly to the American customers.... United States could shift its Saudi purchases to those other suppliers."

Not if the Saudis started selling the oil in Euros, as Iraq was doing! Without the petro-dollar, the US can't switch purchases because the basis of its purchasing power has been undercut - Heard again; "The dollars the USA has printed, the 'cheques' it has written, would start to fly home, stripping away the illusion of value behind them. The USA's real economic condition is about as bad as it could be; it is the most debt-ridden nation on earth, owing about US$12,000 for every single one of it's 280 million men, women and children."


Lippman: "Moreover, the record shows that even countries whose rulers are hostile to us are willing to sell us oil because they need the money."

True, but at what price? As the US is now a net importer of oil, the price of that incoming oil is important. If a war in Iraq were to break the OPEC cartel, that would be something worth spending billion$ on a war for..Michael C. Ruppert; "Taking over Iraq and placing the Saudi oil fields under U.S. protection would break OPEC and establish the U.S. as the premier energy broker in the declining days of oil."


Lippman's last shout: "Finally, an American takeover of Iraq would not, in the long run, give the United States guaranteed access to Iraqi oil. A democratic Iraq might well decide that its future prosperity would be best served by a supply relationship with, say, China, now an importer of oil with rapidly growing demand."

It might, but the US has plenty of experience in influencing 'democratic' regimes. A good and oil related example would be Venezuela and it's recent coup attempt. An Iraq under Saddam and without sanctions would, as its already abandoned the dollar, probably do just this. So what's the only was the US can avoid the removal of sanctions and keep control - regime change, under US terms - Scott Ritter: "Unfortunately, on-site inspections have been tossed into the garbage heap by those U.S. policy-makers who seek not the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction but rather the removal of Iraq’s president."


Okay, so I was a minute over. But you get the point. If I can construct such an argument in 11 minutes, I think it shows how flimsy the 'it's not about the oil' argument is. Give me an hour....

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