Critics of the Bush Administration are divided between those who tend to view Republicans as part of an ultra—secret, ultra—capable military—industrial cabal who control the world and everything in it, and those who view the President as a moron and his advisers as ideologues who are leading us over a cliff. While I don't presume to know for a fact which school of thought is correct, they can't both be right.
The Republicans—as—evil—geniuses point of view is exemplified by the 'No Blood for Oil' argument. The Republicans—as—fools point of view is exemplified by the 'quagmire' or 'No End in Sight' argument. (Though I speak of the critics as being 'divided,' of course one can find many earnest people who have argued both 'No Blood for Oil' and 'quagmire.')
My impression is that lately, 'No Blood for Oil' is fading away in favor of 'No End in Sight.'
The 'No Blood for Oil' argument supposes that the war is simply a hostile takeover, wherein Afghanistan and Iraq are not sovereign nations but oil companies. It supposes that there was a business plan and that accountants, not generals, calculated that the most efficient, most cost—effective way to obtain control of middle eastern oil fields was to send an army. It supposes that, even after Mogadishu, the political costs of dead American soldiers weighs less in the balance than the cost of acquiring energy by any other means, including purchasing it on the open market, or developing alternative fuel sources. And it supposes that every time President Bush says, 'the oil belongs to the Iraqi people,' he's lying.
However, if Iraq is a company ripe for a hostile takeover, it's a company with some serious debt problems. Someone is going to have to pay or forgive all of this debt.
Furthermore, we could have just bought the oil. In fact, we did. When Saddam was in power and sanctions were in force, the United States was the single largest end—user of Iraqi oil.
Critics of American policy at the time pointed out that if we eased sanctions against Iraq, the oil would flow more freely. Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun faulted the Clinton Administration:
'the US has steadily blocked or delayed Iraq's purchase of equipment and spare parts for its crumbling oil industry.... If Iraq's oil industry was quickly refurbished and allowed to export at full capacity, there would be no shortage, and [oil] prices would fall sharply."
True, the Iraqis are sitting on huge, untapped oil reserves, and a modest investment of dead soldiers' blood today might assure a long term and stable source of oil tomorrow. These are larger geopolitical questions I don't presume to know about. I only know that there must be easier ways to make money than get yourself elected to the toughest job in the world and then tell lies all day, every day. I think —— Occam's Razor and all that —— it's simpler to assume that Bush means what he says.
If, after all the dollars spent, the United States intends to pay for Iraqi oil at market rates, as opposed to just taking it, then the 'blood for oil' business plan truly makes no sense. You can be sinister and smart, but you can't get away long with being sinister and stupid.
As noted above, the 'No Blood for Oil' argument is diametrically opposed to the 'quagmire' or 'No End in Sight' argument, which argues that the war in Iraq has been a costly waste, that the monies expended could have been spent on nicer things like schools and hospitals at home. Instead of blood for oil, that is, an immoral war fought for economic reasons, the war in Iraq is now seen as a drag on the economy. (For more examples, just google 'Iraq' and 'No End in Sight')
I was brought up in a progressive household, by progressive parents, and it was an article of faith that progressives care more about the fate of little brown people than Republicans do.
So I'm surprised when the Left reacts to Bush's talk of peace, freedom and democracy with jeers and sneers. The argument of 'sure, but what's in it for us?' is the last argument I would have expected "progressives" to make.
How can progressives think they can sway me with this argument, given my background? 'No Blood for Oil' makes no sense to me, and 'No End in Sight' doesn't resonate with me, not after I saw the photographs of Iraqi women holding up their ink—stained fingers.
A new slogan is needed. Maybe one that doesn't start with 'No.'
Lona Manning observes America from Canada.