I’ve been doing my best to ignore any and all news about Iraq. Everything I see or hear just reminds me that I have no real understanding of what this country is doing, or why it is doing it.
The supposed rationale put forth by the administration – that of stopping Saddam Hussein from giving his weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who would use them against us – never made much sense in the first place, as the secular-fascist Hussein and religious-fascist terrorists didn’t seem to have much in common. It seems even less plausible now, given that Iraq didn’t seem to actually have these hypothetical weapons to give.
The more complex neo-conservative view, as I understand it, was that the “easy” toppling of Saddam, and its replacement with a “free” pro-US democratic regime would spur democratic reforms in the region, and help the United States’ position there. Unstable dictatorial regimes in control of oil supplies would be replaced with stable democracies who (presumably) would be more friendly to our interests, more stable, and would reign in terrorists. Sort of a reverse-domino theory.
The “cynical” view is that this is really about ensuring long term access to Middle East oil reserves through military superiority and presence in the region.
I think that the cynical view is actually just a reformulation of the neo-con view – that is, nobody cares about long term stability in the middle east if it’s just a barren desert wasteland. But a barren desert wasteland with oil, well, that’s something worth stabilizing.
My real problem is this: for all the money that it’s costing us to invade, occupy, and “stabilize” Iraq ($200 billion already, and that’s just to start!) is it really a good investment in our nation’s future? I should really do more research on this (after all, I am a library and information science student) but this is my basic thought experiment:
Assume our war in Iraq is successful, and Iraq become a US ally and business partner. The US maintains a large military presence in Iraq, and helps to stabilize the middle east, ensuring oil flows and feeds the US and world economy. And then at some point oil consumption surpasses world oil production, and eventually we run out of oil. Now we’re left with a worthless, barren desert wasteland, but one that is friendly to us.
Now, take $200 billion dollars (or whatever it is we end up spending) and create a program to cut America’s oil consumption by 90%, whether it’s from conservation, better use of oil, alternative fuel sources, whatever. Throw money left and right through grants at academia, contracts to industry, military projects, anything that seems like it might be a good idea.
Now, assume that this actually works, and US oil imports are cut drastically enough to make the US essentially not care about world oil prices, reserves, or stability.
Not only has the US managed to become independent of oil, but it will have legal assets (through intellectual property) that presumably will be of great value to the rest of the world, as well as intellectual capital and technology to power the world without oil.
And, as a bonus, we can disengage from the Middle East, which I assume would probably lower terrorist activity. Iraq and the rest of the Middle East will have to deal with its own problems. If they can’t, well, I think that’s why we provide aid to Israel (and Egypt).
My point is, what do we get, long term, from an Iraq invasion? While that may be a pretty cynical way to look at it, I mean, it seems pretty fucking clear by now the Iraqis don’t want us there, so I figure we aren’t doing it for them.
Freedom’s on the march!
I should never write about politics.
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