Monday, October 29, 2007

Cheney's rush to war: the real reason?

Many of us have struggled to grasp what lay behind the behavior of this administration in the Middle East. Now we know that from the beginning there were individuals within this administration – Wolfowitz has been mentioned explicitly – who from the very moment after 9/11 were arguing for attacking Saddam Hussein in Iraq rather than the Taliban who were sheltering Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. We also know that Richard Cheney used many devices to bully the CIA into consenting to the possibility [despite their considered opinion to the contrary] that Hussein might have weapons of mass destruction. We know that in 2002, leading up to the attack on Iraq spurious charges were made to justify attacking Iraq: Saddam had been involved in the 9/11 attack, and later [as it became every more clear that that claim was without substance] that Saddam’s regime had weapons of mass destruction. Now we watch, with dismay that a similar run up to war is taking place, only now it is Iran: Iran is building a bomb, possibly within the next few years, Iran has been producing the Improvised Explosive Devices that are killing our troops in Iraq. So – it is being argued – we can’t wait: we have to attack Iran lest they soon get the bomb and to ensure they won’t continue making IED’s.

Such is the claim, and for many of us it seems as contrived as the run up to war before. Indeed, none of the arguments given seem sufficient to explain the investment of lives and American wealth in Iraq so far.

Could there be yet another reason?

Could it be the prospect that oil will become in short supply soon? Here is a statement by Dick Cheney in a speech in 1999:

By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need an additional 50 million barrels per day.

What does he mean by “need an additional 50 million barrels per day” by 2010? Does he mean that existing reserves will have peaked by 2010, and that somehow we, the United States, will need to ensure control of an additional 50 m. barrels a day?

The Peak Oil argument is that the world’s oil reserves will at some point reach a peak and thereafter decline -- producing, perhaps, a dramatic rise in prices and a rush among the world's powers to control what remains of the oil reserves. As the world’s known oil and gas reserves are concentrated in a narrow space in West and North Asia, the Middle East would be the most strategic place to hold territory.

Can this explain the rush to war in the Middle East? The construction of the largest embassy in the world -- vatican-sized, with many high-rises? This makes one wonder, again, if we are being told all that should be said about the reason for the rush to war in the Middle East.

[Click here for a link to a site on peak oil that quotes Cheney's speech.]

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