Saturday, May 03, 2008

McCain "Admits" Iraq War Is About Oil
The Central Puzzle About The Iraq War

Here, at Crooks and Liars: McCain "admits" that the Iraq war was about oil. Why the scare quotes? Because saying that p is not always an admission that p. Why is this not clearly an admission? Because to be an admission, McCain would have to be convinced that the war was undertaken because of oil. Perhaps he is, but I'm skeptical. Why? Because we have not yet solved--and may never solve--the central puzzle of the Iraq war. To wit: why did we start it in the first place?

I don't know the answer, you don't know the answer, McCain may not know the answer...sometimes I'm not even sure that anybody in the administration knows the answer. Why did the administration undertake to sell a war in the wake of 9/11 and tacitly in the name of 9/11 when that war had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11? Why did they let the man responsible for 9/11 escape after he had been cornered by diverting troops to the unrelated Iraq war?

It really is shocking how sanguine the American public is about all this. If even 10% of them knew even the basic story as painted by the MSM, you'd think there'd be riots on the Mall. It's just about the most astonishing and inexplicable act of stupidity imaginable.

Why did we go to war in Iraq? I just don't think we know.

It's hard to even know what the question really is. Is it: why did the administration undertake to sell the war? That is: why did they put so much effort into misleading Congress and the American people? Why did Congress give in so easily when the case was so obviously cooked? And why did the American public follow along so docilely? Or, rather: so eagerly?

The latter questions can be answered fairly easily, I think. But the answer to the first question is still a mystery.

So McCain certainly said something that entails that we went in because of oil, but I doubt that it's an admission, because I doubt that McCain has anything more than a hypothesis. Was oil a part of our reason for starting the war? Well, we'd never have had this kind of interest in Iraq to start with if it weren't in the Persian Gulf. So it's clear that oil is at least part of the background conditions for the war. But it's far from clear that oil was the main reason we went in. We may never know what the main reasons were. It's even possible that there is no fact of the matter; that is, that the administration's thinking was so confused that it's not possible to identify the central reasons.

Let me end by saying that this puzzle may be less puzzling than I make it out to be. Woodward, in his interesting State of Denial, says that, after 9/11, some in the administration thought that a narrow response against al Qaeda would be a mistake, and that government was incapable of envisioning the kind of broad, radical response that was required. Government, they thought, just can't think that big. So apparently Wolfowitz went to AEI and asked them for ideas. They responded with a multi-decade plan to refashion the entire Middle East. It involved invading some ME country and making it into a Western-style nation with a democratic government and market economy. Apparently they said that none of the countries that would be best for this plan could plausibly be invaded. Egypt would be good, but we couldn't invade them. Saudi Arabia would be good, but they're the bestest buddies of the Bushes, and, besides, there's no way to invade them. Iran: also no way. Too strong. The nearest country we had actual justification for invading was Afghanistan, but: not really in the ME. Too peripheral. But there was one country that was o.k. though suboptimal, and for which a case could be gerrymandered: Iraq.

There's apparently some fairly good reason to believe that this is what happened, and that's why we did it. On the basis of this Rube Goldbergesque/Steven den Beste-esque crackpot scheme to completely remake the entire Middle East. (Note: I kinda like SDB, and people should be a lot nicer to the guy; but his "justification" for invading Iraq in premise-and-conclusion form is just about as loopy as it could possibly be.)

Maybe now that it's been such an unmitigated disaster, it doesn't really make any sense to hope we acted on better rather than worse reasons. But: whatever crackpot reasons they had, I hope they were better than that AEI nonsense. Cripes. What a world-historical f*ck-up.

Oh yeah...the McCain thing. So, um, probably not really an admission, just a hypothesis. I really wish liberals would stop this sophomoric gotcha crap. It's perfectly permissible to note that McCain said this, and really, really important to ask him if that's what he really thinks, and if so why. But this YOU SAID! YOU SAID! YOU SAID THAT IT WAS OIL YOU SAID IT! bullshit really, really, really, really needs to stop.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home