Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Al-Qaeda Oil Tycoons and Liberal Willful Obtusion

Yesterday, President Bush made a speech where he said this:
The terrorists and insurgents are now waging a brutal campaign of terror in Iraq. They kill innocent men and women and children in the hopes of intimidating Iraqis. They’re trying to scare them away from democracy. They’re trying to break the will of the American people. Their goal is to turn Iraq into a failed state like Afghanistan was under the Taliban. If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.
While I agree with much of what the President said, he goes way too far in the last two clauses. First off, even if Al-Qaeda could seize oil fields and get production up and running and ready for export, who would buy it from them? Any country buying oil from Al-Qaeda would instantly make enemies with the United States as that purchase would rightfully be construed as a declaration of war considering they'd be funding terrorism. Furthermore, as BTC News argues:
What isn’t possible is that the Kurds and the Shia, both of which groups have differing but very good reasons for detesting al Qaeda, both of which are armed to the teeth and both of which are sitting on top of that oil, would just stand around and watch as someone stole it.
So basically Bush's prophecy is pure hyperbolic bullshit; yet there is one element of truth to it. If Iraq does indeed fracture and descend into a civil war, it will become a failed state reminiscent of Afghanistan. In that chaos, Al-Qaeda along with unassociated Sunni militants could set their sights on furthering the damage to Iraq's already crippled oil infrastructure. This would not only be catastrophic for Iraq's people, who will depend upon oil sales to rebuild their society, but for much of the world -- primarily Europe and Asia -- that will come to rely on Iraq's reserves to power their economies. So at least in that vein, I agree with President Bush's assertion that if the oil fields fell into Al-Qaeda's hands it would be very bad for everyone.

And for those squeamish and strategic left-liberals that never had the courage to add oil into the arithmetic of this war, but now will say,"Look, look, Bush even admits to it now," I ask: How long have you been willfully obtuse? Of course, Iraq oil reserves factored into the war. How much? I don't know. But to use this quote as evidence of the U.S.'s imperial intentions is ridiculous. Keeping Al-Qaeda and other nefarious sorts away from Iraq's oil is a legitimate security concern, not just from the standpoint of U.S. foreign policy, but for all of Iraq as well as the world.