Saturday, February 22, 2003

"it's all about oil!"

Like a stereophonic cacophony of whining, I keep hearing things like "Bush just wants to start a war for oil!" Initially, I dismissed this proposition prima facea as propaganda that is sophomoric, emotionally charged, and completely disconnected from reality, which it obviously is. But I began to ponder the argument. And here is what is crystal clear.

Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the price of crude oil has doubled. During this time, the government of Iraq has been the antagonist in a slow motion game of hide-and-seek-the-weapons-of-mass-destruction. Each UN resolution subjecting Iraq to inspections and disarming, and each manuever to evade each resolution, has ratcheted up the tension between the free world and Iraq. The US is the only nation morally and militarily capable of enforcing any such resolutions in the Middle East -- should force be required. We have been put in the position of leadership in the protection of the free world from rogue nations with weapons of mass destruction. Rightly so.

Now, the question is: who benefits from higher oil prices -- the buyer or the seller? Clearly Iraq, which has been exporting oil in violation of yet other UN resolutions against doing so, is selling to a captive market at better than twice the price it was getting a little more than a year ago. And the free, industrialized world is paying a little more than double for a strategic commodity, suffering economically as a result. Wealth is being redistributed from free nations, from the economic engines and breadbaskets of the civilized world, to the little kingdom of Babylon. So, who's really pulling shenanigans 'for oil?'

Who's motives are dispicable here? Is it the leader of the strongest nation in the free world; one who has not shrunk from the moral responsibility to do everything in his power to judiciously and forthrightly hold the slick bully accountable, or is it the malevolent antagonist rattling his saber, cooperating with vicious terrorists who have no value for life, who are consumed with hatred; an antagonist who is waxing richer and richer each day he keeps the game going as a result of bullying and terrorizing peace-loving and well-intentioned nations?

Removing this self-centered megalomaniac will not only liberate a nation from his dictatorship, it will remove a major disturbance in the balance of the business of life across the world. When the oil market is no longer held hostage by Saddam Hussein, consumers of oil will be freed from the need to scramble to purchase future supply all at once, and the price of oil will decline to something more closely related to what the demand for it and supply of it ought to be under peaceful conditions. The cost of doing business will decrease, as this 'terror tax' is removed. Productive people will prosper. Hungry people will be fed. Weak nations will have a chance once again to become economically viable as terrorism, the oppressor of liberty and joy, is vanquished.

So, in a way, war might be about oil. But just not the way the cliche suggests. The leader of Iraq, in cooperation with terrorists and perhaps even unions in South America, has played a cruel and deadly game of market manipulation. Shame on him. It's time for him to be held accountable. The rest of the world deserves a shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.