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A War for Oil? So What?

Uploaded by SchoolStinks! on Jul 07, 2004

Written By John Moser

We’ve all heard it before. Every time the possibility arises that the United States might intervene in the Middle East, out come the old slogans. "No blood for OIL!" "Stop the OIL war!" "Don’t fight for Exxon!" We heard it during the Cold War. We heard it during the Gulf War. And of course there has been no shortage of such expressions in recent weeks, as the chances of war against Iraq seem to increase daily.

As one who thinks war with Iraq would be justified, and might even be necessary, I’ve given some thought to how to respond to this argument. On a certain level it doesn’t even rise to the level of an argument; it is simply an assertion, most appropriate for bumper stickers, but uttered as if it were self-evident. For example, the author of a recent letter to The Collegian, Ashland University’s student newspaper, simply lists a few facts—American consume "more 25 percent of the world’s oil output", Iraq has "the world’s second-largest proven reserves of oil in the world," and American oil companies "currently have no stake in the Iraqi oil market"—then connects the dots to conclude that any war against Iraq would have nothing to do with liberating Iraqis from a brutal tyrant, but everything to do with "liberating oil."

At its heart this is nothing more than what even sophisticated leftists refer to as "vulgar Marxism." There is no need to prove that the Bush administration has oil in mind. One must merely show that there is a possibility that a material interest might be involved, then sit back with a knowing smirk, confident that the true motive has been uncovered. Further evidence—indeed, any further argument—is unnecessary. The rhetoric coming from the White House and the Pentagon might fool the hoi polloi, but not the jaded mind of the economic determinist.

If one wanted to engage in a game of a corsair, corsair et demi, the defender of the administration could counter that the economic argument cuts both ways. France and Russia have major oil interests in Iraq, and—surprise, surprise—have taken the lead in the United Nations Security Council in expressing reservations about a possible war. However, this sort of argument leads nowhere, as it is no more possible at this stage to find hard evidence in favor of this view than it is to prove that oil is the...

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Uploaded by:   SchoolStinks!

Date:   07/07/2004

Category:   Contemporary

Length:   4 pages (947 words)

Views:   8936

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