By G.D. Maxwell
Finally! An explanation that makes sense.
Ten years ago, I quit a perfectly good job that paid me more money than I ever thought Id make. I sold a perfectly good house in a perfectly good neighbourhood in Toronto, divested myself of most of my worldly possessions through a series of comic garage sales, packed up what was left and moved to Whistler to work for twelve dollars an hour and be a ski bum.
People around me asked the inevitable question, "Are you out of your mind?" I patiently explained to them my reasons for moving. I loved mountains and there was a hole in my soul the CN Tower just couldnt fill. I loved skiing much more than I loved slushing to the subway in Ontarios winter. And passion trumps money every time if you just give it a chance; in other words, lifes life, it aint no dress rehearsal.
It was a simple explanation for a complex act and more than a few friends thought I was lying, crazy or probably both. But it was an explanation that made sense.
The problem Ive been having with the war being waged in Iraq by my home and native land mostly revolves around the lack of sense of any all of the explanations offered by the Bush administration. I dont expect much of what George W says to make sense. But he has surrounded himself with some very smart, if extremely scary, guys and I did expect them to come up with something that made more sense than the flimsy film of half-truths theyve offered to date.
Oh yeah, I forgot to warn regular readers. This column isnt about skiing, wacky Whistler culture, or the unsettling fact the WEF has booked space for their 2005 get-together in our town. Its about war and politics, so if youd prefer to get back to your hacky-sack game, this is a good place to stop.
So whats this war all about? Is it about bringing down a sadistic dictator who commits atrocities against his own people? You mean like the leaders of North Korea, Zimbabwe, Libya, Nigeria, China, Indonesia and others? Hell, if thats the reason wed better get ready for a state of war for the rest of our lives.
Is it about the unproven links between Saddam and al-Qaeda? Well, what about the proven links between al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Somalia and others?
Okay, maybe the links arent airtight, but what about the likelihood of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands being sold outright to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups? Isnt it about that?
Coube. But the singular lack of success of the UN weapons inspectors in finding anything to suggest Iraq even has the capability of producing WMDs might at least turn the spotlight on, say, the former Soviet Union who has a stockpile of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons second only to the US. And even President Putin admits they cant even keep track of where they all are or whose hands control them.
Or, if you believe Russias our friend, what about North Koreas shipments of missiles to Yemen and others? Pakistans nukes? In my world, tangible threats trump imaginary ones every day of the week.
Well then, isnt it about bringing democracy to Iraq? Im not sure the track record is too good on this point. Werent we going to bring freedom to Afghanistan? Outside of Hamid Karzis Kabul, Afghanistan has pretty much reverted to tribal warlord rule reported to be so repressive it makes the Taliban look like a love-in.
And if its all about instilling and protecting democracy, why did the US go nuts when the democratically elected government of Turkey voted to not allow the country to be used as a staging area for invading Iraq, a move that so outraged some in the US power structure they suggested Turkish military leaders might want to think about overthrowing the government?
Okay. But its definitely not about oil, is it?
I was ready to buy the disclaimer that it wasnt about oil. The Bushies had made some pretty good arguments that oil would be cheaper if they just sidled up to Iraq, lifted sanctions and let it sell all it wanted on the world market.
Then I got sent Geoffrey Heards paper, Its Not About Oil or Iraq. Its About the US and Europe Going Head-To-Head On World Economic Dominance and the research it was based on The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq by William Clark.
And damned if a lot of those nagging questions didnt start to get answered.
To grossly oversimplify the heavily researched and extensively footnoted arguments Messrs. Heard and Clark present these are, after all, largely macroeconomic analyses it is all about oil. Well, not oil per se , but the currency in which oil is traded, US dollars, and the potentially devastating economic impact of some oil producers, most notably Iraq, switching to trading oil in euros.
The argument goes something like this. Since 1945 oil has been exclusively traded in US dollars. Since 1971 when Richard Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard, it has been a global reserve currency that the US, and only the US, could produce by simply printing. If Japan wanted to buy oil, it needed US dollars. That made it okay for Americans to buy way more Sonys and Toyotas than Japanese bought Chevys. The trade deficit didnt matter if Japan never tried to hold the US good on all those dollars because they desperately needed the dollars to buy oil.
Ditto those cheese-eating surrender monkeys in France, as the right-wing press now likes to refer to them.
But with the advent of the European Union and the euro as a viable reserve currency, this US oil hegemony is threatened. When Iraq started denominating oil in euros in 2000, the neo-conservative think tanks in the DC beltway went ape-shit. Largely ignored during the Clinton administration or as one pundit put it, the best Republican administration in the last 25 years the neo-cons, under the leadership of now Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had been pushing an invade Iraq plan since Gulf War I. After September 11 th , the plan found sympathetic ears in the oil-clubby confines of the Bush White House.
In one fell swoop, the US can lock up Iraqs oil second largest reserves in the world dismantle OPECs price controls and cut the world price of crude in half by ramping up production, lock oil trading inexorably to the US dollar, establish a permanent military presence in the Middle East, hold up a shining example to other oil-producing countries, Iran for example, of what happens if you get too far out of line, and protect the US economic house of cards for, hopefully, the rest of my life.
Hell, if theyd just explained that in the first place Id have jumped right on board. If its a race between me and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys being reduced to third-world status, better them.
USA USA USA.
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Read it for yourself and see what you think. You can find Clarks paper at: http://www.sierratimes.com/03/02/07/arpubwc020703.htm
and Heards (under the title Not Oil, But Dollars vs. Euros ) at: http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?PID=1181