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Maxed Out

The light bulb goes on

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Cou’be. 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 can’t even keep track of where they all are or whose hands control them.

Or, if you believe Russia’s our friend, what about North Korea’s shipments of missiles to Yemen and others? Pakistan’s nukes? In my world, tangible threats trump imaginary ones every day of the week.

Well then, isn’t it about bringing democracy to Iraq? I’m not sure the track record is too good on this point. Weren’t we going to bring freedom to Afghanistan? Outside of Hamid Karzi’s 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 it’s 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 it’s definitely not about oil, is it?

I was ready to buy the disclaimer that it wasn’t 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 Heard’s paper, It’s Not About Oil or Iraq. It’s 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 didn’t 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 didn’t matter if Japan never tried to hold the US good on all those dollars because they desperately needed the dollars to buy oil.