and the real reason is?

I hear a lot of people saying what the latest war is not about:

  • It's not about terrorism, because there's no evidence that Iraq has any connection to the Taliban;
  • It's not about oil, because the US doesn't actually get much oil from Iraq;
  • It's not about nucular weapons, because Iraq doesn't have any and isn't likely to soon, and besides, North Korea;
  • It's not about Democracy and Freedom, because the US simply does not go to war over that (you stupid hippie);
  • It's not about some personal Bush family grudge, because the shrub isn't actually as stupid as his media handlers make him look;
  • It's not about distracting from domestic economic failures, because wars are way too expensive and only make that shit worse anyway.

So, ok, why then?

Tags: , , , ,

102 Responses:

  1. malokai says:

    its about the united states telling the world what to do and showing why they should listen.

    • jwz says:

      That's a stupid non-answer.

      • glitchdrei says:

        to be fair, it is sort of the reason - and the real reason the united states want to go to war is because bush is a power hungry redneck who instead of shooting trespassers on his trailer site gets to blow up anyone he wants to.

        it is by no means a valid reason for war, unless you are george bush. aside from this, there is no reason.

        • jwz says:

          The Bushes grew up millionaires, calling them trailer park rednecks is pulling the wool over your own eyes. Not to mention, insulting to rednecks everywhere.

          I find it hard to believe that this is anywhere near the real reason, because I don't believe one man (or even one man and his former CIA daddy) has that much lattitude. There have to be larger reasons than that. Economic ones.

          • glitchdrei says:

            i was referring to his attitudes rather than his financial background.

            • jwz says:

              I'm confused, can you characterize the redneck trailerpark attitude on foreign policy?

              Though I enjoy making fun of our monkey-faced president as much as the next guy, I strongly suspect that any impression of him being a dope is because that's exactly what his handlers want you to think of him. Why is certainly a good question, but he'd look like a genius if that was their intent, even if he was actually an idiot.

  2. cyeh says:

    At this point, if Bush _doesn't_ go to war he'll look wishy-washy in the eyes of the world. Think about this for a moment. You have a president who has given up a tremendous amount of his agenda and political capital to get Saddam out of power. If he can't get this one thing done, what _can_ he do other than give tax cuts for the rich?

    Also, think about how a pullback would look on the world stage. You have a president that wants to remove someone from power, deploys a lot of troops in the area, redeploys half the US Navy, prepares for war, and then backs off. At best he looks wishy-washy. At worst, he looks like a complete bungling amateur on the world stage that can then be exploited and abused.

    Put another way, which would you be more afraid of? Who would you be more fearful of? A superpower that crushed another country because it could? Or a superpower that threatens and insults the UN and the world, but backs down at the last minute?

    There are very few alternatives that can take place whereby the Bush presidency can save face _and_ not have the United States look completely exposed, clueless and vulnerable without an invasion.

    • harryh says:

      This is a very excellent answer (one that I 100% agree with) for why Bush (and by extension the US) is pushing for war now. For all intents and purposes he has committed to a course of action and can no longer back down.

      But why did he go down this road in the first place? I think that is the real question.

      • dingodonkey says:

        I think he originally committed to war with Iraq for more legitimate reasons. The nation is run by a dangerous man, very likely has some dangerous weapons, has a serious grudge against the U.S. and several regional allies (read: Israel), and who knows what else they haven't told us. Maybe there really is a serious threat out there that they can't reveal yet? It's one of those miserable "trust the government, if they're wrong you might find out later" situations, although I'm sure many can and will argue that point.

        I think the original intent got lost amongst the people when it started to turn political.

      • cyeh says:

        This was stated below, but I believe part of this is pent up 9/11 agression, but a lot of this is picking an enemy that:

        a) has flaunted some UN rule. You can debate how contrived the 'flaunting' of said UN rule is, and whether it's worth going to war over, but it least it has the vague air of breaking some international law.

        b) already has had the shit kicked out of it. I've stated this once before: any war that gets started in Iraq will be over in 30 days. We already control most of the airspace (via the no-fly zones) and with the arrival of the USS Kitty Hawk, we'll have 4 Nimitz class carriers on station. A couple of carriers can project a heck of a lot of power. Having 4 is overkill. (Also not including airbases at Qatar and Saudi Arabia).

        Pretty much once you control the air, the ground is easy. We've been bombing anti-air radar sites with HARM missles for weeks now, so air defenses are going to be non-existant. And the last Gulf War pretty much took out most of the tanks and armor, so other than the Bagdhad itself, it should be a pretty quick thing.

        c) looks and smells like an Arab

        Look, they can't go picking on North Korea. They have nukes. And Iran just isn't evil enough. So you go pick on Iraq, which already has the shit kicked out of it, look like you did something on the war on terror, appease the war hawks and look like a big crazy motherfucking superpower while you're at it.

        Seems simple to me.

    • 1eyedkunt says:

      that may be one reason bush will go through with this proposed war, now that we're well on our way, but it doesn't answer the question: why did bush commence this unprovoked action against iraq in the first place?

    • dingodonkey says:

      I have to agree. With elections looming, Bush has no choice if he wants to maintain power. He's set so much of the nation up for war, including most of his supporters as far as I can see, that if he were to back out now, most of the anti-Bush faction would be glad that he did, but they'd still hate him, plus he'd let down the voting crowd that he had prepared for a war. If he goes off and has his war, then at least he's keeping one (quite large) faction happy.

      Sometimes I think Mexico was on the right track with that single six-year term bit.

      Of course, I don't think this is the only factor. I don't think anybody is going to deny that Saddam is a nutcase, and I don't know too many people who like nutcases commanding a military that, we're told and don't have a whole lot of reason not to believe, has some pretty nasty stuff. There are some legitimate reasons, whether you agree with them or not isn't my point, but Bush's handling of the situation tends to mask them in favour of his own public appearance.

      • pyran says:

        I don't even think it's about the elections anymore -- at this point, withdrawing would be a diplomatic disaster of unprecedented proportions. Consider: what message would the US be sending to the world if we back down now? "Push us hard enough, stonewall us, stall us, and eventually we'll back down. We're not serious." We'd be finished as an international power -- anyone who didn't agree with us would stall, and we'd never accomplish anything.

        So we now go to war to prevent our own removal from the world stage.

  3. bdu says:

    # It's not about oil, because the US doesn't actually get much oil from Iraq


    A)We are getting a fair amount of oil from Iraq indirectly at the moment. We are replacing venezuela's lost production with Iraqi oil being funneled in through countries that aren't as reliable embargo-wise.

    B)This is a non-argument even if it were true. Not getting much oil from Iraq at the moment is not a logical prefice for the conclusion that we don't want their oil.

    With that said, I think aside from the oil aspect the main purpose of this war is to create a base of operations in the heart of the middle east where we can exert more control than we currently do in Saudi Arabia. This need is being exacerbated by the Saud's current plans to democratize the country slowly and kick out the US military in the process.

    Also, war is a great obfuscator. It allows you to bury stories that you want buried, and keeps your approval ratings higher than they would be otherwise. Iraq is a convenient non-threatening target. For an example of how BushCo treats a country that really IS threatening, see N. Korea.

  4. avva says:

    It's basically about bad weapons (not just nucular, but I hate the WMD phrase).

    We know that: Saddam had bad weapons, lost a war with the US, agreed to get rid of all bad weapons, fucked around with inspectors for many years while at the same time trying very hard to get more bad weapons (hence the sanctions regime to try and stop him from these activities, which failed). All this is undisputed.

    Starting from this fall, it's basically a credible-threat scenario. The only reason we even have inspectors back in Iraq is because the US threatened war; if there is no war and the real threat is over, it's likely that the inspectors will be thrown out again and Iraq will continue to try and get bad weapons.

    So the idea was to use a threat of force to get Iraq to very credibly get rid of all bad weapons and intentions to get them (which didn't happen); and if that doesn't happen, make good on your threat and very credibly get rid of them, and Saddam, by yourself.

    Other things are sugar-coating or hitchhikers. Possible ties to Al-Qaeda is sugar coating; Democracy and Freedom is really a hitchhiker, but a pretty nice one if the US can pull it off (hard to estimate the likelihood).

    • alacrity says:

      I'm going to have to thoroughly disagree.

      t's basically about bad weapons

      That's what they keep saying, but it just doesn't hold any water. What are we doing with N. Korea? In fact, if you want to get technical about it, the U.S. is the biggest threat to the world in terms of simply having such an enormous stockpile of "bad weapons." No dice.

      Other things are sugar-coating or hitchhikers. Possible ties to Al-Qaeda is sugar coating; Democracy and Freedom is really a hitchhiker, but a pretty nice one if the US can pull it off (hard to estimate the likelihood).

      The allegation of ties to al-Queda is laughed at because the facts that are readily available in fact support the opposite conclusion. (They hate each other.)

      Hard to estimate the likelihood?!? I'd say it's pretty easy. Let's look at history, which has proven to be a pretty good indicator of future events (unless one learns from history, which the U.S. seems to be pretty hellbent on avoiding.) Given our previous history in this area, I can safely say that the likelihood of doing any direct good in terms of increasing freedom is 0%. Nill, nada. Zip. Check please.

      • stremph says:

        What are we doing with N. Korea? In fact, if you want to get technical about it, the U.S. is the biggest threat to the world in terms of simply having such an enormous stockpile of "bad weapons." No dice.

        Actually, mucho dice. The question is not the weapons. The question is accountability and a prior history of WMD use. America's nuclear weapons belong to the American people. They were tested, built, deployed, and in many cases, destroyed at Pantex Amarillo, all on our dime. We (through the electoral college) vote for the President, whose first responsibility is as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, including our nukes. Essentially, we entrust the president with control of our military (no matter what party he is), including conventional and nuclear forces. Not so in Iraq or North Korea. Citizens as we know them are non-existent in these countries. The governments are not accountable to an electorate, in fact it is the opposite. Furthermore, Saddam has a prior (and fairly recent) record of WMD use, mainly in the form of gas used on Iranian troops and civilians, as well as Kurds. We don't trust him with these weapons and we're going to prevent him from developing and using them (again). That is the central issue. While we have a similar, totally justified distrust of North Korea in this regard, all indications are that Kim Jong Il now has at least one nuclear weapon, with more on the way. Preemption is no longer an option. A strike on N. Korea is riskier, both because of the credible threat of nuclear retaliation and because North Korea's military is much stronger than Iraq's.

        Let's look at history, which has proven to be a pretty good indicator of future events (unless one learns from history, which the U.S. seems to be pretty hellbent on avoiding.) Given our previous history in this area, I can safely say that the likelihood of doing any direct good in terms of increasing freedom is 0%. Nill, nada. Zip. Check please.

        That check would be well-spent on an education. Germany is a democracy - even for blacks and Jews - because of American intervention. Japan is a democracy because of American military intervention. South Korea is a democracy because of American intervention. The Cold War is over. We are no longer in the business of setting up extreme rightist governments to cock-block the Soviets and their clients. Women are attending university in Afghanistan and are even free to choose what they wear in public. Sir, we're going to be needing this table. Your date is obviously not going to show.

        • While large quantities of the world HAS nuclear capabilities. The United States is the ONLY country in history to have ever USED them on another country. During world war 2 we dropped a nuke on Japan. Then, just in case they didn't think we were serious, we dropped another one.

          For the people keeping track of nukes used on other countries (not counting testing):
          United States: 2
          Rest of the World: 0

          Now, these were only in the neighborhood of 1 megaton a piece, and we have several orders of magnitudes higher these days. But history really IS a good sign of who the global asshole is.

          • stremph says:

            Hiroshima: 15 Kilotons.

            Nagasaki: 22 kilotons.

            1 Megaton = 1,000 kilotons, an impossible yield at the time, and I believe impossible with fission weapons. Most weapons today fall within the 150-300 kt range. Megaton-class weapons really served no purpose than to hold population centers hostage - more or less "terror" weapons. These were the first weapons put on the table in the disarmament talks of the 1980s, and most are out of commission. The main nuclear deterrent today is counterforce, not MAD.

            Both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs would be classified as tactical nuclear weapons by today's standards. And technically, the bombs we dropped weren't nuclear (fusion, multistage), they were atomic (fission, single stage).

            Also, the argument that "we dropped a nuke on Japan" is pretty weak when arguing that we are the largest threat in the world or the "global asshole." At the time, the bombings were fairly popular among the American people. Furthermore, we dropped the only two we had. In 1960, we had over 21,000 megatons worth of nuclear weapons, yet we didn't use them. If we're so bad, why were the only two atomic bombs ever dropped in anger dropped on the most savage and committed enemy we fought in WWII? Why didn't we nuke Cuba? Or the USSR? Or North Korea? Or Vietnam? We learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki that this was a very bad way to fight. Unfortunately, we started a huge and very dangerous arms race, but that's in the past. As it stands, we only have about 2500 megatons worth of weaponry - just over 10% of our Cold War peak. Why, at a time when the nuclear superpowers a

            • stremph says:

              Why, at a time when the nuclear superpowers are drastically reducing their stockpiles of these weapons, are rogue states with oppressive, unaccountable governments trying to obtain these weapons? Frankly, I don't want to wait to find out.

              By your "history proves we're the global asshole" logic, the Germans are still Nazis, the Japanese are still testing chemical and biological weapons on the Chinese, and Kofi Annan is most likely some sort of headhunter. History can tell us a lot about the present, but it can't tell us everything. Especially not when used selectively and for purely partisan purposes.

            • violetshade says:

              They were nuclear because they involved dissolution of the nucleus.

            • I thought Hiroshima is closer to 12kT. However, several experts probably have given several estimates of the strength of the blast. Note also that the Hiroshima bomb was primitive in that only a few percent of the uranium fissioned; the rest flew away as dust in the explosion; since then, they have learned to make bombs that are much more efficient.

              What ticks me off about the "United States is uniquely evil in having dropped the two atomic bombs" crowd is that they never offer any credible alternative scenario for the end of WWII. I recently read a book called Downfall by Richard Frank, about the end of war in the Pacific - the firebombings, the atomic bombings, the American plan for invading Kyushu, the Soviet plan for invading Hokkaido, the Japanese plans for resisting the invasions, etc. - and it argues that the alternative would have cost many more Japanese lives, not to mention those of American soldiers. Lacking the atomic bombs, the USAF would have destroyed the Japanese rail network in the coming months - which meant famine, and no American occupation authority to import almost a million tons of rice. Not to mention, there were million-strong Japanese armies in China, Indonesia, Burma - which had to be removed from there, in the absence of the post-atomic surrender.

              • stremph says:

                Exactly. The people who criticize the dropping of the bombs pay attention to the numbers and all the stats of Japan's physical decline, but fail to account for the fact that the Japanese were still very much "in the fight" when it came to their tenacious ambition to fight Americans, especially with the prospect of a home island invasion. Okinawa gave us a glimpse of what such an invasion would look like, and I am certain that hundreds of thousands of families of young Marines are very thankful for the atomic bombings, as their sons were not slaughtered on Japanese beaches. Regarding "uniquely evil" conduct, the US did not perpetrate the Nanking atrocities, routinely violate the Geneva Conventions by torturing and killing POWs, or conduct chemical and biological warfare in occupied Manchuria. If anyone deserved those two bombs, 'twas the Japanese. Of course, in hindsight, I really don't think anyone "deserves" to be nuked.

                And you're right, there are a lot of varied estimates on the yield of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, I used the data from my US Nuclear Weapons Data Book.

                Frank's book is now on my "to-read" list. Thanks.

        • It might also be worth noting that democracy is definately not the end all be all of quality forms of government. One only has to look at the previous presidential election to see that while Gore had the popular vote won, Bush is still the one in the White House. So in this case, "By the people, for the people" failed miserably. People don't look for "most of the time" doing the correct thing when it comes to government, they look for it all the time.

          • stremph says:

            One only has to look at the previous presidential election to see that while Gore had the popular vote won, Bush is still the one in the White House

            This speaks volumes about the abhorrent condition of American citizenship. The electoral votes determine the presidency, not the popular votes.

            Regarding the democracy as a quality form of government, I like Churchill's take on the matter, that it is the worst form of government except for all the others.

            • violetshade says:

              Not so much better, as more average. Quality of government depends on quality of people governing. When a single ruler holds all the power, things can be absolutely wonderful or they can be truly abysmal. When everyone's contributing their two cents, things generally aren't great but won't change much.

              • stremph says:

                Quality of government depends on quality of people governing

                I'd argue that in a democracy, the quality of government is equally dependent on the quality of the electorate as it is on the actual officeholders. I feel the quality of the American electorate is in severe decline, especially now that so many Americans seem to be buying into groundless conspiracy theories (i.e. "blood for oil") as the basis for their political positions.

                • violetshade says:

                  When I said "Quality of people governing" I meant that in a representative government the electorate is indirectly governing. Presumably good people would choose good representatives, but I may be overly optimistic on this one.

                  • stremph says:

                    Presumably good people would choose good representatives, but I may be overly optimistic on this one

                    I am in perfect agreement with you there.

        • coralscars says:

          no comment on topic at hand...just wanted to say that i think stremph is hilarious.

        • violetshade says:

          Prior record of WMD use? Possibly of chem/bio weapons, but not of WMD quantities. Show me mass destruction and I'll agree that he may have used WMDs. A horrible weapon isn't a WMD just because it's nasty.

          • stremph says:

            "Weapons of Mass Destruction" is the internationally-accepted blanket term for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological weapons, alternately referred to as "NBC" weapons. It is a very specific, subjective term, not one that is open to various interpretations depending on the scale of actual destruction. A single BLU-82 15,000-lb. blast bomb can kill far more than ten times the number of people than the Anthrax attacks on the US in 2001 did, yet the BLU-82 is not classified as a WMD and Anthrax is.

            It is not a question of quantity, especially when you consider that with many weaponized viruses, a single infected person can spread the disease to literally thousands of other people. It is a question of what the weapon is and what it can do, regardless of whether it is ever actually used.

      • avva says:

        That's what they keep saying, but it just doesn't hold any water. What are we doing with N. Korea?

        North Korea probably already has a nuke or two and, more importantly, ability to deliver them to the US. It has not been defeated in a war and has not vowed, as part of cease-fire agreement, to disarm itself. It has not used bad weapons on its own population or other countries recently. It has not attacked other countries unilaterally for quite a few decades.

        North Korea is dangerous, but in a very different way from Iraq.

        In fact, if you want to get technical about it, the U.S. is the biggest threat to the world in terms of simply having such an enormous stockpile of "bad weapons." No dice.

        It's not just having a stockpile that counts. Russia has many more bad weapons than Iraq could possibly have, and its democracy and the government's accountability to the people are not nearly as strong as in the US, but still it's not nearly as dangerous as Iraq, although infinitely more powerful. Counting the weapons simply isn't the way it works.

        The allegation of ties to al-Queda is laughed at because the facts that are readily available in fact support the opposite conclusion. (They hate each other.)

        The USSR and the US hated each other passionately in the 40ies, but they united against the Nazis. Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

        "They hate each other" simply won't cut it.

        Hard to estimate the likelihood?!? I'd say it's pretty easy. Let's look at history, which has proven to be a pretty good indicator of future events (unless one learns from history, which the U.S. seems to be pretty hellbent on avoiding.) Given our previous history in this area, I can safely say that the likelihood of doing any direct good in terms of increasing freedom is 0%. Nill, nada. Zip. Check please.

        <lj user=stremph> already answered you on other countries. As for this region, I suggest you take a close look at Northern Iraq. While decidedly imperfect, it's a very encouraging example.

  5. tsarin says:

    I just posted a bit of speculation on what I think it's at least largely about in my journal. It's far too long to repost here, given LiveJournal's comment-length restrictions. It is economic, though; the dollar is in grave danger of global irrelevance and the American economy in consequent grave danger of utter collapse.

    We're going to invade Iraq because all must worship at the altar of the almighty dollar, and we've got the guns to prove it.

  6. rho says:

    Aliens. It's the only possible explanation. Sadam is actually a shapeshifter from the planet Zarg. His fellow aliens are brainwashing Bush, causing both his apparent idiocy and his unshiftingness on war.

    • Other way around my dear, Bush is pissed off because he can't get a triple breasted alien whore to blow him simply because he's the president. Sadaam likes sand too much to be an alien. And as for Bush? Well, i don't know if you been paying attention for the past few years, but the American people (and moreso the apparent failure of the democratical system) haven't exactly put the cream of the crop into the White House. And if you think that this sort of idiocy and singlemindedness and people doing things for the wrong reasons and lack of intelligence isn't typical of at least a very measurable portion of American people, then you obviously haven't been outside in a very... very long time. (standard disclaimer: i'm not saying all Americans are stupid, quite far from it, but don't pretend that we don't run into this segment of the population at least on a daily basis) I mean really, you don't even have to wade very far into the World Wide Wasteland to find these sorts of people, and you don't even have to get out of your computer chair.

      We all like conspiracy theories, however, if they're not at least plausable (revenge on behalf of daddy, oil, money, terror, voter popularity, blah blah blah), AT LEAST please make them ENTERTAINING to the rest of us. If you need a primer on how to do comedy sci-fi, please go purchase the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series in book form. (I only recommend the DVD of the tv series for the truly hardcore fans)

  7. bzztbomb says:

    Currency battle? A longwinded but a neat read. Summary is that Iraq started accepting Euros for oil. This makes the dollar weaker because before that you'd only buy oil with dollars. If the rest of the oil producing countries accepted Euros, it would trash our economy and let someone else become the dominate power.

    • jwz says:

      I've never really understood why it mattered which currency one used; isn't that what exchange rates are for? Aren't currencies just units? Why does it matter if it's in pounds or kilograms?

      • tsarin says:

        It matters because, since oil has to be paid for with dollars, central banks the globe across have scads and scads of them. If you had to start paying for oil in euros tomorrow, all those dollars would get converted overnight.

        It'd have the same effect on the dollar's value as a massive sell-off of a stock would have on that stock's price.

      • Currencies aren't all equal and interchangeable because they don't derive their value from any one standard. Currencies are simply backed by the issuing country, and that country makes a guarantee that you will be able to buy what you want with that currency, at pretty much the same price as you could yesterday (to date, the US has been very good at this. Countries like Russia haven't been.) On a world market, currencies also (basically) follow the same laws of supply and demand as any other commodity.

        So, to quote, "the effect of an OPEC switch to the euro would be that oil-consuming nations would have to flush dollars out of their (central bank) reserve funds and replace these with euros. The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value and the consequences would be those one could expect from any currency collapse and massive inflation (think Argentina currency crisis, for example). You'd have foreign funds stream out of the U.S. stock markets and dollar denominated assets, there'd surely be a run on the banks much like the 1930s, the current account deficit would become unserviceable, the budget deficit would go into default, and so on. Your basic 3rd world economic crisis scenario."

        • harryh says:

          "The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value"

          First, where does that 20-40% figure come from? I'm not convinced that this statement is true.

          Second, as was pointed out in the very same article, the Dollar has dropped 15% against the Euro in the past year. Admittedly things aren't so great (economically) in the US right now but they aren't anywhere close to Argentina bad.

          As an aside, some relevent numbers:

          Worldwide Oil Consumption: ~22 billion barrels/year which at $30/barrel is 660 billion dollars. Now that's a lot of money for sure, but the US economy runs at about 10 trillion/year so I don't see how a switch in the denominating of currency could have the drastic effect claimed by the article.

          Anyone know how many total dollars there are in the world (to compare to that 660 billion figure).

          • The 20-40% number came from the article that the grandparent poster linked. I just reread the article, and it's not clear where the author got that figure. I also noticed the article comes from a leftist source, so I feel like a dumbass now for quoting it without checking first.

            Still, I believe the economic principles are sound. I just don't know how to calculate if the effects will be to the degree the author claims.

            It *sounds* like 660 billion dollars magically appearing on the foreign exchange market ought to have some sort of inflation effect, but maybe that's just a drop in the bucket.

            On the plus side, it would mean more people would try to buy our goods in order to ditch their unwanted dollars, which would reduce the trade deficit some people think is a huge problem.

            • novalis says:

              On the plus side, it would mean more people would try to buy our goods in order to ditch their unwanted dollars, which would reduce the trade deficit some people think is a huge problem.

              No, they would sell their dollars for euros.

              • And what would the people who bought the dollars do with them?

                • novalis says:

                  Keep them in the hopes that they would go back up in value, or trade them for some other currency they thought they could do better with.

                  • Well, believe it or nor, the foreign exchange markets do not exist solely for those who speculate on future currency values. Banks buy US Dollars for their customers who need to deal in US Dollars. Said "deal"s would include buying US goods.
                    Also, most people do not speculate on the long-term currency market, because it take huge amounts of money to make a profit off of that sort of arbitrage, and in the long term that money would be better invested in something with a higher rate of return.

      • deviant_ says:

        Well, currencies are just units, yes. It's important to note that there are two main uses of currency though: trading, which is what most people associate it with, and also storing wealth.

        So here's some ballpark figures. Disclaimer: even on the Intarweb, good figures are hard to find, so some of these aren't as current as they could be; I've tried to find things that looked researched, but there's no guarantee here.

        50% of US oil comes from foreign countries
        26% of the total comes from OPEC
        13% of the total comes from "Persian Gulf" countries (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia)

        80% of EU oil comes from outside of the EU
        53% of it from OPEC
        (couldn't find a number for within OPEC)

        80% of all international trade is in Dollars (note: the US is not involved in 80% of all international trade, by far, but I can't find meaningful numbers on how much we are involved in)

        66% of world exchange reserves are in Dollars. That is, in the way that the US Dollar used to be backed in gold, most other currencies are now backed by Dollars in a vault somewhere; or these days, Dollars in Chase Manhattan's computers, and those of other large banks.

        OPEC is mostly concerned with having a trading currency which provides a stable store of value for their revenues. Trading at high value is important, but above all, once they've got the money, they need its value to remain stable. At the same time, OPEC's price per barrel is determined based on other oil markets, in particular the Brent marker crude, which is traded on the International Petroleum Exchange in London. IPE trades in Dollars. These factors together make Dollars a pretty strong choice for OPEC's oil trade.

        While all of that is going on, the Euro-zone wants strongly for the Euro to break in to the world's large financial markets, which it so far has all but failed to do. The oil market is one of the larger markets in the world, dollar wise (and thus, also by value), so it'd be a really good beach head. But there are only 2 large oil producers in the EU -- UK and Norway. Neither of them has signed up for the Euro, and they both trade their oil good old George Washingtons.

        At the same time, the OPEC countries have much stronger ties to Europe than to the US. If the Euro *was* a large world player, rather than a regional currency, it would be compelling to trade in Euros. This is all brought to a head by the fact that exactly one country trades oil in Euros. I'll bet you can guess who. Iraq's participation in the UN's "Oil for Food" program is largely in Euros. There isn't a particularly good nonpolitical reason to trade in Euros right now; it basicly means they're trading for less money. But it's an important political point -- the Oil for Food program was established, by the UN, to circumvent the UN sanctions against Iraq for humanitarian reasons.

        So, Saudi Arabia doesn't want to help us, because they want to see if Euros are stable for the long term, and if so, they want to switch. Germany and France don't want to help us squish the Euro, for obvious reasons, but they're A-okay with helping Turkey (A NATO country) out defensively if Iraq gets really mean. They're hedging their bets.

        At the same time, the only reason the UK is even still a player in the international oil market is that the major marker crude is sold there. So they like Dollars a lot.

        Germany and France, and the rest of the Euro-zone, desperately want to be able to use Euros as a storage currency; right now they can't. The Euro breaking into the oil market seriously changes that.

        And, of course, I'm probably 100% full of shit, but I think I'm saying something reasonable.

  8. I don't know. I really don't. But aren't all of these ideas fascinating? I wonder what Bush thinks about the fact that his citizens simply aren't buying what he's telling them, that they're coming to their own conclusions about this. But Bush and his daddy are probably the only ones who know the real reason for all of this.

  9. a few possible reasons come to mind:

    1. the higher ups in the military like and want war, and the higher ups in the military tend to exert a lot of influence over the right wing. it's one of the rare parts of government that the conservatives want to throw money at.

    2. opportunity to reduce civil liberties, as an end in itself. the war on terror isn't a "real" war, which makes it difficult for the administration to declare war powers and start trying to reduce the freedoms of the left to criticize their policies/foibles/scandals/etc. oh yeah, and get rid of non-christian art^H^H^Hpornography while they're at it.

    3. extended reaction to 9/11. there's pent up aggression, and we'll point it anywhere. and it's a lot easier to point 9/11 aggression at iraq, which is in the middle east, muslim, etc., than it is to point at north korea which clearly hasn't got jack squat to do with 9/11, even to the general public idiots.

    4. (the big one)...

    the administration is actively trying to bring on armageddon, ala the book of revelations. giant war between good and evil starts, the holy land is involved, we're clearly dealing with forces that could easily destroy the earth/humanity during a full scale war, etc.

    i read an interesting article a few weeks back about how the christian right is trying to be extra nice to the jews and israel all of a sudden because at the time of armageddon, the jews specifically will be given the option to convert and thus be saved, etc. i saw some billboards when i was in texas that support that theory. i think you might have been the one who pointed me to that article, actually.

    • greyhame says:

      There's an article here by Michael Ortiz Hill arguing that that is in fact precisely Bush's motivation. It seems to me like he makes a few leaps that aren't necessarily strongly supported--but they're also not implausible.

    • 1. Yes
      2. a) The war on terror is still popular and has been the rationale between all new encroachments on civil liberties so far. b) What was the decrease in civil liberties after the Gulf War? Clinton's Clipper Chip? c) Better put on your tinfoil hat and move to a commune in Canada where you can make all the artporn you want.
      3. Yes, though it seems like a North Korean war would be an easy sell to the public, since they are a communist dictatorship with actual fucking nuclear material and a nuclear weapons program.
      4. Guess it's about time you accepted Jesus into yer heart, ain't it?

    • bdu says:

      Actually, I recall you responding in a pretty freaked out manner to an article I posted re:Bush pushing armageddon, so it was probably me.

  10. I think it is, above all, about installing a more stable and US-friendly government in an unstable and US-unfriendly region, which would be good for many reasons, and would also explain why we wouldn't actually want a democracy -- too unpredictable, too hard to control, would immediately align itself with Iran.

    It's marginally about humanitarian reasons. If there is a regime change, the UN will be able to lift the economic sanctions everyone says are starving the Iraqi people, without giving in to Saddam and losing all credibility.

    It is about oil because we COULD buy oil from Iraq if the sanctions were lifted. I read somewhere that Iraq has the largest oil reserves in the world, or something like that.

    A US-friendly regime could also help calm the anti-US sentiments in the Middle East in the long run, and in an indirect fashion (although that will probably never be over until the Israel/Palestine thing gets resolved.) We'd also have another country to base anti-terror operations out of. I don't know if that's a real reason, but it seems possible.

    I think what it comes down to is that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but more importantly we have economic interests in the area, and political interests in not appearing weak. Such is life. And I think the reason why Bush has been so vague on the reasoning behind the war is that these are really abstract reasons, reasons most people wouldn't really understand and would therefore be suspicious of. The American public needs Us vs. Them logic, not "supporting our long-term interests" logic.

    Oh and thanks for bringing up the topic in a rational and intelligent manner, rather than all the rah-rah cheerleading I see everywhere else.

    • stremph says:

      would immediately align itself with Iran.

      In Iran's dreams. Most Iraqis are Sunni Muslims, most Iranians are Shiite. With Iran being a Shiite theocracy, it would be highly unlikely that the Iraqi Sunni majority would subject themselves to Shiite rule.

      • node says:

        I don't know if the Iraqi Shia population would submit to a Shia theocracy, but anyway -- Shias number somewhere between 55% and 65% of Iraq's population, mostly in the south of the country.

      • No. According to the CIA World Factbook, Iraq is a Shiite majority (~65%). The minority Sunnis siezed power and kept it through their facist military dictatorship.
        Presumably if an actual democracy were set up in Iraq, the Shiites would take power, and align themselves with Iran, which you correctly stated is also under Shiite rule.

        • stremph says:

          Well how about that? Thanks for clarifying.

          However, ethnic/linguistic differences may prove equally as hard to overcome as the Islamic split. Clancy wrote about a scenario in which Saddam was assassinated and Iran and Iraq merged into one huge fanatical Islamist State. I didn't buy it.

  11. greyhame says:

    The Bookman piece I linked in a previous comment presents a strong argument for empire-building as the motive (with Iraq becoming a US power base in the middle east, whence to dominate the entire region--so in a way, it is about oil, but not exclusively Iraq's oil).

    • bitwise says:

      I'm assuming you mean this article.

      The idea that the Bush administration thinks they can actually enforce a Pax Americana fits a lot of the current bizarre behavior.

      • greyhame says:

        Yeah, that's the one. I had just linked it in a comment to jwz's immediately previous post, so I was too lazy to do it again.

        • bitwise says:

          I'm imagining a t-shirt with big letters, "Pax Americana", and behind them, a cartoon of a really big bomb.

          • jwz says:

            Martha Washington P.A.X. Baseball Cap

            "P.A.X wants YOU to join up, if you're tough enough. Here's the same P.A.X cap that the United States Peace Force issues their recruits -- the very one Martha Washington wears while she's in training -- to save the world. Are you up for the fight?"

            (I couldn't find a scan of the pic of Martha in the PAX t-shirt, sadly.)

  12. snooks says:

    (at least, in part)

    Published in 2000, it lays out a plan for American economic/political dominance via control of the world's oil supplies, among other things. Its imperialist slant is, in my opinion, undeniable, centering on a systematic takeover of Mid East states.

    One of the authors and signors of the document happens to be Dick Cheney.

    Cheney and friends also happen to be defense contractors in their civilian lives, and cannot help but prosper grossly if we are recast as a war state if/when the above document becomes (or became) policy.


    The above was among the scarier documents I've read, until I happened upon Patriot Act II.

    Scary shit.

    • jwz says:

      Cheney and friends also happen to be defense contractors in their civilian lives, and cannot help but prosper grossly if we are recast as a war state if/when the above document becomes (or became) policy.

      I've been refering to that as "The Boeing Tax." The gag being, wars are only good for the economy insofar as they cause certain companies/industries to make a lot of profit by the expedient method of transferring it directly from the taxpayers to the companies, without that pesky middleman of "the market."

    • greyhame says:

      That was referenced in (though I run the risk of being repetetive here) the Bookman article I've mentioned--other people involved in producing that document (which, by the way, is a very close match to the 2002 National Security Strategy document the government published) include Paul Wolfowitz (now deputy defense secretary), John Bolton (now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security), Eliot Cohen (now on Rumsfeld's defense policy board), Cheney's chief of staff, the comptroller and CFO for the Pentagon, and the head of the DoD's office for Program, Analysis and Evaluation.

  13. ccwonderland says:

    I think what Colin Powell said to the United Nations is enough reason to go to war. Saddam Hussein signed a treaty sayin ghe would not do certain things any more in order to remain in power. He has done those things, therefore, it's the United Nations job to live up to their demands. however, the United Nations is not making any decisions, so that is what prompted Bush to tell them they are verging on irrevelance because they don't live up to their proposals. Because of this the U.S. and Britain, and Australia, and others! don't forget this is NOT just the U.S. and Bush wanting this. Saddam is an international threat because he has consistently given the run around to inspectors, and not complied by a treaty that he signed.

    For more info see these addresses to the UN:


    • bdu says:

      I'm all ears. When they accuse Iraq of something that the US itself is not guilty of, then bombs away. Until then, it's a rausing round of "because we can and they can't".

      • ccwonderland says:

        That's not it though, Saddam has signed a treaty saying that he is not allowed to posses these weapons and must accoutn for their destruction. This happened after the Gulf War and after Saddam has knowningly used these weapons on his own people, and neigboring countries. Furthermore, the resolution was passed by the UN NOT the U.S. It was a unanimous vote to deny him of the weapons because he isn't trustworthy. It is not a U.S.-only policy and wasn't created as such.

        • bdu says:

          And what exactly is the ABM treaty of 1972? Bush tossed that one out the window for a missile defense system that doesn't even work properly, and now were developing smaller "usable nukes" that further buck that treaty.

          We've signed numerous treaties vowing not to develop bio/chem warfare, yet we continue to do so under the guise of "procaution" so that we'll know what others have. RIIIIGHT. Furthermore, there's a host of FOIA documents from the 50s-60s showing that the US, too, used bio-chem weapons on it's own people, albeit for involuntary testing rather than eradication.

          You want not trustworthy? The US is the ONLY country EVER to use a nuclear weapon.

          Again, give me something we aren't guilty of...

          • "The USA dropped the bomb so they are hypocrites" is such a bogus argument. The US was acting on behalf of its allies, against a worldwide agressor, long before there were any treaties regarding nucular weapons, or even before the effects of the bombs were fully known.

            • I'd like to point out that the USA dropped not one, but 2 nuclear bombs on Japan. Alright, we'll ignore the desert nuke testing so i can entertain your ignorant theory for the moment. What? The guys in the Enola Gay bombing Hiroshima had the lens caps on their cameras so we had to go do it again so we could get good polaroids of Nagasaki because of the aforementioned lens cap problem?

              All joking aside, you really ought to be in on United States Gov operation of any sort, they test everything to the extreme before using it. Are you aware how much longer it takes perscription drugs to get approved in the USA than it is to get them approved just about anywhere else in the WORLD.

              It might also be of note that the Pearl Harbor attack, while unproked, was targeted primarily upon military installations, vehicles, and ships. The 2 nuclear devices dropped on Japan were directly in the middle of heavily populated civilian cities.

              The United States isn't always the "good guy", it HAS and DOES make mistakes and sometimes, at least sometimes, people in the rest of the world ARE correct and the US is in fact the "bad guy", no matter how much the populous fed into the propaganda-o-matic.

              • My point was only that there is no comparison between the US's actions in WWII and the actions of a rogue state/terrorist group, which is what we are worried about today. I also agree that the US isn't always the good guy, but that doesn't mean one should foist any bullshit arguments on them.
                Your comment about prescription drugs testing is a nonsequitur. The testing done by the Manhattan project is all public knowledge, and strangely enough, the US continued testing nuclear devices up until September 1992.
                The questions of why two bombs and why two cities are frequently debated in history books so I don't know why I want to rehash the arguments here. The reasons given at the time was that the axis powers had to surrender unconditionally in order for them to be disarmed, and Japan was mobilizing its entire population to fight a land battle for their homeland. Tokyo had already been firebombed into cinders, without any sign of surrender. The US needed to let Japan know that there would be awesome destructive power unleashed upon them, and that it would not stop until there was unconditional surrender.
                This argument satisfies me. What malice do you want to ascribe to Truman, a liberal? Was he just evil? Did he want the Japanese to suffer horribly and so order the bomb to be dropped? Or maybe he thought there would be fewer casualties on both sides if the war ended without a full assualt on the Japanese mainland?

        • jwz says:

          More to the point, there is a vast laundry list of countries who have violated treaties and who treat their citizens badly, many of whom are not our supposed allies, and we're not (at the moment) bombing them. So even if you take the US administration at their word, that still leaves the question unanswered of why Iraq, and why now.

          • ccwonderland says:

            While it's not completely convincing this article does give some new (at least to me) ideas on why Iraq is the target:


            • flipzagging says:

              The article suggests that Iraq stands alone in their capacity and willingness to harm others with weapons of mass destruction. This is preposterous.

              Let's review. Iraq is under sanctions, from the community of nations. The enforcement is imperfect but by all accounts reasonably effective.

              A great deal of the country is completely out of Saddam's control; the no-fly zones are dominated by American and British air power, destroying targets at will. And note, these no-fly zones have *no* UN resolution to back them up. They just seemed like a good idea at the time (and they are!)

              An enormous amount of weaponry was dismantled immediately after the Gulf War following a vigorous (unlike the current rather weak) inspection effort. Unlike North Korea, a nuclear program was not allowed to continue.

              In Iraq, there's a lot of fuss over whether steel cylinders could be used as bomb-making materials. And yet the former Soviet Union has infamously lax controls on their actual strategic nuclear weapons. North Korea and Pakistan share and sell weapons technology with all sorts of unsavory characters.

              And what about willingness to use weapons? Yes, Saddam is a real loon, but Kim Il-Jung surpasses him by far, and the Pakistani secret police was the driving force behind the Taliban in Afghanistan. Let me repeat: a *nucular* nation with close ties to the Taliban, where there is a constant danger of a coup.

              Let's also look at what they are *not* doing in Iraq. We are not:
              - vastly increasing the number of inspectors.
              - empowering the Allies to destroy any building inspectors are refused access to.
              - expanding the no-fly zones to even more of Iraq, or even all of Iraq.

              ...any of which could be done at a moment's notice.

              Yes, you'd never get all the weapons, but really, Iraq's ability to interfere with us or our allies is pretty much taken care of. I mean what more could you imagine, short of a complete takeover? Israel wasn't worried about him, and the guy was chucking Scud missiles at them just a decade ago.

              But! But! 9-11 changed *everything*!! So the article claims. We have to go after anybody who potentially could conduct asymmetrical warfare!

              Do these people think we're STUPID? 9-11 was perpretrated by people with a little flight school and utility knives. Some of whom had perfectly valid passports, and were staying in the country legally. Not by Saddam, not by any foreign potentate, armed with "weapons of mass destruction".

              There is no fucking connection okay? There just isn't. Wake up already?

              There are defensible reasons to go after Saddam; he's just not, no matter what some Republican rag says, the worst threat on the horizon.

              • I tend to agree. The "terrorism" excuse is just that, an excuse. It is starting to wear thin on the more intelligent segements of the population who can and do see the big picture that it's really hard right now for Iraqi children to make paper airplanes and fly them without getting them shot down by "Allied Forces". Bush is just using the "terrorism" as an excuse to get carte blanche from the American people and the government to change around any old laws he feels like at the moment and target any country he happens to want to make seem like a threat.

                The problem here is that the US/UN isn't pushing down on the laundry list of countries with confirmed more dangerous technology and a willingness to use it against other countries.

                As i always say: "Enforce Universally, or do not enforce at all."

                • rpkrajewski says:

                  As i always say: "Enforce Universally, or do not enforce at all."

                  There are times when that might put the rest of the world in danger. The sad fact is that the choices are going to be made whether they are morally consistent or not.

  14. aaronsw says:

    They don't want the oil, but to control who gets the oil, which gives them more power.

  15. flipzagging says:

    > It's not about terrorism, because there's no evidence that Iraq
    > has any connection to the Taliban;

    The Taliban are dead against Saddam Hussein since he is a largely secular dictator. However, some say that Saddam allows Taliban forces to operate in Iraq since they *mutually* hate the democratic no-fly zones.

    > It's not about oil, because the US doesn't actually get much oil
    > from Iraq;

    I think the consensus is that the various members of the Bush administration have lots different reasons for going after Iraq. Some of them are cravenly personal; the industries they are connected to stand to make a lot of money if trade relations with Iraq were normalized.

    Some in the administration (such as Wolfowitz) are said to be pushing the idea of democracy for Iraq for enlightened strategic reasons. Ever since Saudi Arabia and Pakistan fomented 9/11, the theory is that dictatorial client regimes aren't such a good idea any more. Saddam was left to survive after the Gulf War in hopes that he'd become a good boy again. He is the most egregious example of a former client in open defiance.

    Also, they can't go after Saudi Arabia directly, but once Iraq goes on-line the Saudi oil monopoly is broken. Which is the main reason why the Saudis oppose any intervention, supposedly.

    But there's plenty of evidence that Bush was spoiling for a fight with Iraq from day one of his presidency. If you recall, almost his first act as president was to bomb them! (along with Tony Blair.)

    David Frum, a former speechwriter (the Canadian who cooked up the "axis of evil" phrase), relates that Iraq was high on Bush's agenda from his first day at work.

    Rumsfeld is said to have asked his staff to try to work on an Iraq connection, in the first few hours after 9/11. There might have been some serious reasons to speculate about this, but I remember seeing a report (can't find it now) that quoted staffers who were perplexed about Rumsfeld's insistence on finding an Iraq connection.

    I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but it does seem the Bush administration has long seen Iraq as the key to its plans for the Middle East.

  16. ch says:

    It's not about nucular weapons, because Iraq doesn't have any

    Oh, that's still a concern.

    I found Kenneth Pollack's talk that was given to the World Affairs Council [1] enlightening. He was head of the Persian Gulf division of the National Security Council in the Clinton administration.


  17. owen says:

    Other thoughts that I didn't feel like pasting into a comment:

    Over here.

  18. insomnia says:

    There's actually another reason that people haven't mentioned yet...

    The US doesn't need the oil revenue of Iraq in order to profit by that oil. All they need to do is pull Iraq out of OPEC and pump oil to full capacity. The price of oil will drop potentially under $20 a barrel and OPEC's back will be broken, as they are forced to drop their prices in order to compete.

    The military base reasons are also significant. Saudi Arabia is on the verge of kicking the US out of their country, so the US needs another place for their bases. Iraq is a very central one... note that the US don't appear all that concerned about withdrawing their army from Germany. Some of that will get deployed further east, and some will get deployed into Iraq, which will play home to a very large permanent garrison... large enough to put the pressure on Syria, Iraq, Jordan, etc.

    If control of the oil didn't matter a little bit, then why would the US have offered Russia $10 billion in loans a few months ago for their oil claims in Iraq, or be using threats to not honor previous Iraqi agreements with France over Iraqi oil? What it comes down to is that they obviously have a plan for, if not all of the oil, then as close to all of it as they can get.

  19. jcurious says:

    I think a lot of countries realy want to get those inspections done (even if means making the US look worse)... perhaps their plan is to make the US the "bad cop" in a good cop / bad cop scheme?

  20. confuseme says:

    You didn't mention reelection.

    I'd be more willing to believe that it's not about oil if I had some idea how much oil we're likely to be getting from Iraq just after the war...

  21. kvschwartz says:

    it's for many reasons, in part because it has to satisfy many different people

    publicly it's about democracy and freeing the Iraqis and blah blah, which is utter b.s. imho, and all the rest of the world aside from the US knows it

    I don't think Bush really thinks bringing down Saddam will decrease terrorism -- well, maybe he has succeeded in convincing himself by repeating it so often

    I think it is about unfinished business with his father, I think it is about reelections, I think it is about keeping the country in fear to keep it under control as the economy sputters, I think it is an excuse to declare war on civil liberties

    I think it IS about oil, because Iraq just happens to sit atop the second largest known oil field in the world (after Saudi Arabia)

    if the US had unfettered access to that oil, our oil companies would increase their profits by tens of billions per year

  22. baconmonkey says:

    1. WWII: we nuked japan not to stop japan, but to spook the ruskies.
    2. Iraq has larger oil fields than Saudi Arabia, and our political situation with SA is tenuous.
    3. Osama bin Laden has called for Saddam to be ousted since he is a secular, socialist leader - thus the terrorism argument falls flat.

    • stremph says:

      WWII: we nuked japan not to stop japan, but to spook the ruskies

      Bullshit. Do have any idea how many Americans (not to mention Japanese troops and civilians) would have been killed in an invasion of the home islands? That Gar Alperowitz argument doesn't hold much water, even amongst leftist historians. Of course, demonstrating Atomic power to the Soviets could have been a minor consideration, but to be all either-or about it is just bad history.

      Iraq has larger oil fields than Saudi Arabia, and our political situation with SA is tenuous

      Iraq has the second largest potential yield, second to Saudi Arabia.

      Osama bin Laden has called for Saddam to be ousted since he is a secular, socialist leader - thus the terrorism argument falls flat.

      Osama bin Laden is not the be-all, end-all of terrorism. Saddam Hussein has openly given thousands of dollars to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers. Even if it's not bin Laden, the dude supports terrorism, and against a vital US ally at that.

      • And even if 1 was true, why would it be a bad thing?

        • stremph says:

          I never said it was a bad thing, I just don't believe that it was the only reason the bombs were dropped, let alone a major reason, if even a reason at all.

          It is also worth noting that the Soviets were not unaware of what atomic energy was or what that energy could do when harnessed as a weapon. They had their own Russian and German scientists and were aware of the Nazi bomb project. The revisionists argue the "Truman wanted to scare the Russkies" point as if the Russians were absolutely clueless as to what the bomb was and what it could do.

  23. thesliver says:

    There is more than one reason why Shrub et al started off this process.
    There's no doubt that Cheyney and his group had a long term strategy for the Middle East and for removing the teeth of both Iraq and Palestinian support. This was the reason for them pushing Iraq higher up the agenda, even before September 11th.

    I don't think though that Shrub was convinced by this. The catalyst was September 11th. After then the administration decided that all its enemies (whoever they are) were on the list and that all bets were off. Hence the Axis of Evil. That its an Axis only in the asministration's eyes doesn't much matter.

    Its generally true that no matter what the security, military or moral reasons for going to war it is usually an economic justification that makes the case, that and actually winning of course. So, in that sense, the economic results of the Iraqi oil field being allowed to run (if it hasn't been blown up by Saddam Hussein), in combination with management of the Afghan oil pipeline will benefit not only the US economy but everyone else's as well (except Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Oil States). Economically it will no doubt be a good thing, in the end.

    The Iraqi specific reasons are the same reasons that the raise exists in Poker. Once this process was started it depended upon the military threat being ratcheted up. Shrub's evident frustration is that most of the rest of the world don't want to play the same hand.

    Whatever the result, whether Shrub is allowed by public opinion to go to war or not it seems increasingly unlikely that they could then move onto the next target, either Iran or Somalia. It can't be North Korea unless they themselves push the button, the North Koreans have learned the diplomacy of nuclear weapons.

  24. toast says:

    There are many reasons, but all are ancillary to (or part of) the central drive: maintain US global hegemony via control of crucial geostrategic assets (such as oil, such as military bases in the Middle East, such as client states).

    George Kennan, former head of the State Department policy-planning staff, said it directly:

    We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. . . . In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. . . . We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. . . . We should cease to talk about vague and . . . unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

    G Kennan, Policy Planning Study 23, February 1948
    quoted from The Chomsky Reader, p. 318

    One immediately notes that the tone of competition may need some updating to account for the post-Cold War shift from a bipolar to unipolar balance of power. However, Kennan in 1948 shares with neoconservatives like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, et al in 2003 a certain conception of just what exactly a state is. A state is alone, and power means a lot more than sentimentality.

    There are many related and relevant questions. How does the current administration believe an Iraq war will extend US hegemony? Are they right? Are they executing the campaign well or poorly? Where do domestic political factors fit in? Is the concept of hegemony even valid in 2003? And the big one, do my personal ethics compel me to support or to oppose an Iraq war?

    All of these are important questions; yet, in my opinion, before one can meaningfully approach them one must recognize the drive behind US foreign policy--the same drive that led us to rebuild Japan, that took us into Vietnam, that put an embargo on Cuba, and that caused Reagan to declare Grenada (!) a "threat to national security"--and weigh the costs and rewards.

  25. darksoul says:

    Back in December, my boss and I were riding about on the subway in Boston on a business trip having a discussion about possible reasons we'd be so gung-ho for war in Iraq. It was then that I had a grand epiphany, one of the best conspiracy theories, imho, that I've heard yet.

    This war in Iraq isn't about Iraq or terrorists or any of the nonsense that we're told it's about. This war is about hydrogen fuel cell technology and the oil industry. Consider the following:

    1) Alternate fuel sources have never been taken seriously because it took more effort to use them than it did oil-based fuels. To shift to a new fuel source, a new fuel must be cheaper, as convenient as gas, and gas must raise violently enough in price to scare the american people. Access to new types of fuel only work when oil companies incorporate them into their own system of distribution. If only the major oil companies in the U.S. had invested in hydrogen fuel cell technology, maybe they'd have some plan to convert their stations over to hydrogen fuel dispensing stations.

    2) Unless our government really does feel that Iraq is a threat (which is a joke), the only reason they would have to go to war with them would be to secure more oil. This will anger OPEC (how dare we circumvent them!), which will raise our gas prices. It's bad enough we have to pay $20 per tank of gas now, imagine having to pay $50 or $100 per tank.

    3) Our economy is in a slump and needs a major shake up to get it back on track. The current administration's economic plan is a joke.

    Combine the 3 issues and move forward a year after we've started war with Iraq. Gas prices could theoretically be at $4 a gallon, if Dubya screws things up enough (he's got a knack for that). Americans will be in an uproar. Let's assume the average car has a 16 gallon tank and the average american fills their tank once every 10 days. That'd be about $64 per tank (assuming you took your tank to nearly empty) and $192 a month. Right now you're paying $1.59 a gallon, $25.60 a tank, $76.80 a month. That's slightly more than $12 more for a month worth of gas than you'd be paying for 10 days worth. Bring in hydrogen fuel cell cars and conversions for current cars. Those with the disposable income to buy a new car would be inclined to do it if hydrogen fuel was cheap enough. Offer a hefty tax write-off of some sort and even those who can't readily afford to convert will seriously consider it. New factories have to be built, old factories converted, old machines destroyed/converted, new instructors trained to teach mechanics how to work on these machines, jobs jobs jobs. Jobs + tax write-offs = better economy. Meanwhile, the oil companies finally shrug off the middle east, no longer dependant on them to make money. They've brought out a form of fuel that costs practically nothing to make (IIRC, hydrogen fuel can be made out of any water based liquid), skyrocketing their profits. The automobile industry wins because we all start converting our current vehicle to fuel cell (making them a fat buck if they have the technology patented) or we buy new cars.

    But won't the american people see through this? Why would they care to? Environmentalists are happy because we're using an efficient fuel. Major businesses are happy because they're either profitting from the technology or their saving money on transportation. Average hu-mans are happy because they don't have to pay outrageous gas prices any more. Why worry about a good thing? Except this good thing couldn't have been brought on without a war in the middle east, without the blood of innocents. Without that blood, hydrogen fuel cells would go the way of ethanol and electric hybrids.

    Spill blood for the betterment of civilization or continue polluting and destroying the earth because it's easier?

    This is what I'd like to believe is his actual motive. I could ramble on at even greater length about it, but this is the jist of it.