It's About the Oil, Stupid (it's always been about the oil)

From the 2008 February Vanity Fair

"How Bush Stacks Up" by James Wolcott

As for Iraq, Jim Holt makes the persuasive counter-intuitive argument for this thesis in a piece for the London Review of Books called “It’s the Oil, Stupid,” which begins, “Iraq is ‘unwinnable,’ a ‘quagmire,’ a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy.’ ” Spreading democracy in the region was never the goal, a quick in-and-out never in the cards, despite Michael Gerson’s misty-eyed testimony to the contrary. The goal was to take control of Iraq’s oil resources and stand guard over its infrastructure, which is why military bases with world-capital-size airport runways and suburban comforts (miniature-golf courses, fast-food restaurants, sports fields) are under boomtown construction in Iraq. Holt writes, “The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest—including all yet to be discovered oil—under foreign corporate control for 30 years.” All in all, a pretty sweet deal for the U.S. and trans-national corporations, paid for in part thus far by the sacrifice of nearly 4,000 American troops and countless thousands of Iraqis, a necessary cost of doing business if you don’t mind having others get their hands bloody. Holt:

The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades—a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics—dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration—could scarcely have been more effective. The costs—a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws)—are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.


Something Bitchy

One of our "favorite" bloggers, who often delights us with her word-craft, but who more often than not infuriates us with her credulity, has suggested that it would be amusing to collect "loony quotes" from Obama followers. Well, we here at HSD think it will be at least as amusing to collect loony quote from the fuzzy-headed knee-jerk so-called "conservative" booboisie. There is so much material to work with that we fear that our dedication to this entertainment could jeopardize our health, what with the need to avoid alimentation, elimination and sleepification in order to keep up with the flow. We must say that we are relieved to remember that "life as we know it" will keep us from becoming obsessed with this exercise, as tending to our regular duties will keep our feet on the ground.

"Hypocrisy is better than no standards at all" - William Bennett, CNN Larry King Live, June 10, 2001


Right-thinking, Comrade!

From The Weekly Standard, 2/18/2008:

"Even if culture warriors' political agenda were achievable, that agenda might prove counterproductive. Cultures are powerful and mysterious things; the idea that laws and politicians can direct their paths is, to say the least, lacking in empirical support. In the years immediately before Roe, abortion was a crime, and the number of abortions soared. Since that decision, abortion has been a constitutional right--yet, since 1980, the abortion rate has fallen by more than one third. The lesson is one conservatives should find easy to understand: Like modern economies, modern cultures resist centralized control. If pro-life evangelicals--of whom I'm one--wish to persuade our fellow citizens to protect unborn life, we must persuade them, not prosecute the ones who disagree."

At the risk of sending the Weekly Standard readership I believe it largely does not deserve, I recommend you read the entire piece, so close is it to actually getting something correct. I find the reference to "centralized control" particularly refreshing, as it unwittingly nails the true dream of Republicans and so-called conservatives these days: establishment of central control over our culture, the economy, the world under the banner of so-called Republican conservatism, our new one true "secular religion". Right thinking indeed, comrade!

Army Covers Up Bush Incompetence

“Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning” and protected Bush from Public Scrutiny of Botched War Effort

The Washington Post reports today:

“The Army is accustomed to protecting classified information. But when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret. [¶] That is what happened to a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq prepared for the Army by the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the military. [¶] After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.”

There is no mystery as to why the Army (i.e., the Bush Administration) chose to bury the report: it provides many examples of how Operation Iraqi Liberation was mismanaged from even before it began:

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.

“Building public support for any pre-emptive or preventative war is inherently challenging, since by definition, action is being taken before the threat has fully manifested itself,” it said. “Any serious discussion of the costs and challenges of reconstruction might undermine efforts to build that support.”

“There was never an attempt to develop a single national plan that integrated humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, infrastructure development and postwar security,” the study said.

The poor planning had “the inadvertent effort of strengthening the insurgency,” as Iraqis experienced a lack of security and essential services and focused on “negative effects of the U.S. security presence.”

Now, all the Country needs is a red-blooded American citizen inside Rand to release the Study (à la Daniel Ellsberg) so that full accountability can begin. Preferably before the November 2008 elections.