25 April 2011


I've written in previous posts about the ulterior motives with which the U.S. has waged every war since World War II. When it comes to interfering with genocide, or encouraging the spread of democracy, or relieving the suffering of oppressed peopes, we have been miserable failures. But those lofty ideals have not been the impetus for our wars. Rather, American military might has been wielded in the pursuit of political power and, more to the point, to secure access to territory and natural resources which do not belong to us.

Case in point -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq was never about alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or Saddam Hussein's imaginary ties to al-Qaeda in the post-9/11 era. The Iraq war was always, always about oil. Period. This was transparently so from the beginning, George Bush's delusional propaganda notwithstanding. The proof is laid out in stark detail in Paul Bignell's essay for Great Britain's The Independent. England's participation in the Iraq war was not merely in support of U.S. plans for regime change in Iraq, but also in support of British oil interests. Bignell's well-documented essay includes damning statements like the following -- the oil giant BP "feared it was being 'locked out' of deals that Washington was quietly striking with U.S., French and Russian governments and their energy firms .... Iraq (was) the big oil prospect. BP (was) desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity .... Whereas BP was insistent in public that it had 'no strategic interest' in Iraq, in private it told the [British] Foreign Office that Iraq was 'more important than anything we've seen in a long time .... The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq's oil reserves -- 60 billion barrels of oil .... Many opponents of the war suspected that one of Washington's main ambitions in invading Iraq was to secure a cheap and plentiful supply of oil."

So much for the Brits. What about the Americans? Equivalent documentation for the layers of duplicity behind the Bush administration's lies to the American people and to Congress is available through the Freedom of Information Act. But there is a quicker and more graphic demonstration. Check out this 6-minute video which shows President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and others making pious patriotic statements justifying the war, and moments later either contradicting themselves or claiming they'd never made such statements. Every moment is there for you to see, hear, and judge for yourself.

When in doubt, follow the money. It was never about WMDs, terrorism, or any of the other obscenely transparent propaganda. It was always about oil, a war declared and commanded by oil men, on behalf of oil companies, for oil profits. Similarly, in the Afghanistan war, now the longest war in American history (with no end in sight), terrorism and the half-hearted pursuit of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in the post-9/11 era were a front. That war, tragically waged by conventional forces against a fierce guerrilla opposition (did we learn nothing from Vietnam?), was undertaken in part to sieze control of Afghanistan's lucrative opium poppy fields, and in part to gain control over territory over which oil pipelines from the north might pass to ports on the Arabian Sea. If we were serious about rooting out the Taliban and bin Laden, we would have deployed special forces operatives to organize, arm, and train local militias. This tactic in fact was briefly successful until it was abandoned, as described in Doug Stanton's book Horse Soldiers.

The tragedy in all this? Take your pick. American voters allow themselves to be duped repeatedly by liars and thugs. Wealthy companies make obscene profits from the business of war. The credibility and the reputation of the U.S. are at a low ebb among the nations of the world. Tens of thousands of military men and women have been killed or maimed for life. Hundreds of thousands of residents of invaded countries have been killed, displaced, have lost their homes and livelihoods. War for profit is not war -- it is murder.

A personal note -- I find it disingenuous at best, and an insult to my intelligence, whenever I see the message "Support Our Troops" on a billboard or bumper sticker. Those who display such messages probably congratulate themselves on distinguishing between the war and those fighting it (a distinction painfully missing during the Vietnam War, itself fought over rubber and oil resources). The sentiment is a placebo, nothing more. Troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are as deeply wounded, physically and psychologically, as were troops returning from any other war -- and we are doing nothing to help them beyond shaking their hands and saying "Well done". We should never have entered those wars in the first place. We did so for all the wrong reasons.

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