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A brain fart...UPDATED

by papicek Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 11:29:34 AM EST

These are thoughts that have rattled around in my head for ages, and this spill was triggered by Jerome's comment: A skeptical note:

The oil reserves of Ira[q], like those of Saudi Arabia, are wildly inflated and bear little connexion to reality.

And invading a country does not give you control over its oil resources - at best it denies them to others (but to you too).

The bouquet of mental flatulence reaches it's full flowering beneath the fold...


It wouldn't be the first oil war, nor the first time we've seen miscalculations on extractable oil reserves. The fact of the matter is, nobody knows what's down under the ground, all we can do is poke a hole down there and see what comes up.

Jerome's comment seems to imply that the illegal invasion of Iraq was about something other than oil (though he doesn't say that - wildly inflated oil reserve estimates would've served just as well). Absent causus belli, and as we've seen there was none, then why the invasion?

I've never come to a satisfactory conclusion about this. At the time the war was still being ramped up, I never thought BushCo would actually go in, and I was shocked when he did. I thought it was all saber rattling, the attempt to coerce a recalcitrant, brutal regime (neither so recalcitrant nor so brutal as made out - read riverbend's Baghdad Burning blog. Intolerance and brutality came into her life after the invasion.) At the time, I foresaw that we (the US) could only look forward to years of bloodshed, based on Israel's experience - who has been under attack for 60 years, and neither force nor overtures have attenuated the violence. Look at Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem today.

I listed my reasons why this was a total disaster of a policy in a very old blog entry (long since deleted) years ago: Iraq has access to everything needed to conduct sustained guerilla warfare, the kind that took root in Northern Ireland for decades: a large and motivated population to draw from and access to plenty of funding to ensure that these people had everything they needed (guns, explosives, and knowledge).

I couldn't understand then (and still don't) why we were willingly walking right into this mess. Even with a realist's interpretation of US foreign policy, calculating power relationships and acting only in is perceived as the best interests of the United States, could only come to the conclusion that invading Iraq was a loser proposition.

Some have said that Bush went in to avenge his father, that he felt some need to finally bring down Hussein. Well Americans would have told him, "deal with it. Nobody's going to send our kids to war because you're unhappy about your dad."

Wolfowitz' dictum that "the road to peace in the Middle East runs through Baghdad" makes no sense either (though I admit, it's early days yet). In 2003, Israel welcomed the destruction of the largest standing army in the region. It was thought that Israel could then safely draw down her forces on the eastern border. (I remember a report written by an IDF officer, which I've been unable to relocate, making just this point. He was either a captain or a major and I remember being surprised that this kind of analysis being done by so junior an officer.) Regardless, as we've seen, after eight years, the violence in Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine has never ceased. The only thing that the invasion of Iraq does accomplish is that Israel cannot be invaded by Syria with a sizeable American force in its rear.

Iraq-Syria-Israel. This is likely the essence of Wolfowitz' plan, yet it seems farfetched because Israel has never been willing to relinquish its hold on the Golan Heights, and even if we could pressure Syria into an accord with Israel,  it would be political suicide (and maybe real suicide - remember Anwar Sadat) for Syria to relinquish its claims on Golan. (Essentially Clinton's strategy was to bring Syria into the fold and that this would "soften" Palestinian opposition.)

Then there's the oil. Bush's and Cheney's backgrounds both point towards the oil motive. Iraq has significant reserves (h/t to Jerome, these reserves may be, and probably are, less significant than believed) and the war could be portayed, as it was after the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, as a vital step in ensuring America's energy security. And you can bet your bottom dollar that them gool ol' boys in Houston were gonna just drool at the thought of all those millions coming from unfettered access and control (yeehaw!) of Iraqi oil fields. . . . Why would we weaken the Saudi position in the world energy market though? According to Robert Baer, and ex-CIA operative, Saudi Arabia's position in the world isn't due to the reserves she sits atop, but to her excess production capacity. All the Saudis need do to affect world energy prices is to adjust the oil production spigot a tiny bit, and voila! Any move to improve Iraq's position in the oil markets would inevitably weaken the Saudi position. Perhaps, though, the Saudis want to be relieved of some of the pressure being in a controlling position creates, however I've no way to evaluate this proposition.

But would America go to war for oil? Nope. Regardless of what our actions have been, and anyone could rightly point out that the US has been a major transgressor in sending its troops over our borders, the average American really dislikes having her sons and daughters put at mortal risk overseas. That is political suicide in the US. I tender the evidence of Obama's improbable election to support this notion. Americans don't conduct wars. Wars are for dictators and totalitarian regimes. Americans go on crusades. "Making the world safer." "Helping the oppressed Iraqis throw off the yoke of Hussein's tyranny." Even, "preventing economic dislocation and the misery that would cause by ensuring the free flow of energy out of the Gulf." There was never, ever, any escaping the need to rebuild after the conquest. American self-esteem would not allow that, and Paul Bremer's last few weeks in Baghdad drawing up (on his own, without consulting Washington - who never included plans for reconstruction after its invasion) a draft Iraqi constitution is the expression of this need to rationalize to ourselves our bloody actions.

Oil as a motive seems the best bet. Wolfowitz never spelled out how we get from Baghdad to a resolution of violence in the I/P conflict. I don't believe he ever had a plan, and you could say that just because I don't see one, doesn't mean that one doesn't exist, but there are too many players with too many outlets and plenty of resources to toss the spanner in the works of his, to me, mythical plan. I hope it is noted here that I haven't mentioned WMD, and that's all I'm going to say about it, you can draw your own conclusions.

Bush's motives hardly matter here. What is known is that while he was being flown around the country in Air Force One, and even as the White House staff was evacuating the building on September 11, certain staffers were being called back by Dick Cheney to begin planning the invasion of Iraq. Not Afghanistan.

Iraq.

[editor's note, by papicek] A tiny edit in the last paragraph. "on September 11" was added.

Update [2009-4-28 9:20:21 by papicek]:    Some much needed perspective:

Well, I've learned nothing new in the threads (frankly, I'm surprised as I almost always do here),

I can't say I learned nothing new here any longer. There's this in the comments: de Gondi
Best laid plans go astray. Imagine the slipshod ones, heavily conditioned by ideology. As das monde notes above the oil resources of the Middle East have been a matter of contention since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

I recall one episode that illustrates a certain conceptual blindness, an ethical denial that such a major event as a war could be driven by sheer greed. In December 2001 several secret meetings were held in Rome between Americans, Iranians and Italians. The meeting was arranged by Ledeen and Ghorbanifar. According to the testimony of the then chief of the Italian secret services SISMI, Nicoḷ Pollari, throughout the meeting the only thing that was discussed were the oil reserves of Iraq with maps of Iraq resources all over the place. The Iranians who ran the Iraqi Shi'ite organizations presumably were striking a backdoor deal with the Americans.

Ledeen heatedly denied the scoop and declared he would sue the two authors of the story, Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D'Avanzo. He asserted that the meetings were held to save American lives in Afghanistan, that Pollari could not have made similar declarations. He also asserted (correctly) that the two reporters had got the hotels' names wrong. (The meetings were actually held in a well known hotel just off Piazza Navona.)

I personally tend to see Ledeen from an Italian perspective as epitomized in the words of his long time collaborator, Francesco Pazienza. Pazienza depicted him as single-mindedly obsessed with making money.

In the end there were backdoor operations with envoys sent to Teheran to negotiate Teheran's stance. Once again, as with Reagan and Khomeini, the Iranians outwitted Cheney's backdoor boys. Rafsanjani was not elected president as many would have wished.

In 2002 the neocon crowd organized with Chalabi a big shebang in London where all the purported opposition leaders got together to arrange the future government. A good word was put in for the last king's heir. Plenty of hand shaking. Everything under control. Woolsey happy as a lark. The INC would make things smooth. There would be plenty of big bucks for everyone- and there were. Things didn't quite go as planned- or did they? The bottom line is that a clique of backdoor boys paying lip service to a shoddy ideology made fortunes.

Thanks for sharing, this is news to me.
and I'm left where I began, my mind running around in circles over the question of what was on these guys minds when they targeted Iraq. What they thought we would get out of Cheney's War. Of course, the Pentagon and the national security apparatus reacted in a predictable way to 9/11. Halliburton, Blackwater, Hunt Oil and others who jumped on the bandwagon along the way each had their own reasons for doing so. All are beside the point, unless they point to the fulfillment of something sketched out previously.

Starting a war that ultimately runs contrary to your national interests is nothing new. Ask Hitler. Or Saddam Hussein. I can't help thinking that the seeds of the war were nurtured long before 9/11. Another in a long line of oil wars? Certainly. Absent the oil, I'm convinced, there would have never been a conflict.

The comment by JakeS is perhaps as near to the truth as I see it (at the moment):

But the only one of these dimwits who has anything resembling real experience at the sharp end of the stick is Colin Powell...
Perhaps the key players in this sick drama fell victim to the same fallacy that bedevils almost all American relations with the world: that what happens in the world they know - Washington - is more important than than what goes on in the rest of the world.

Perhaps the simple truth of the matter is that there was no goal. That the leading players involved in fabricating this war were simply unhinged (a little more than they usually are) by 9/11, so existing plans and resources were marshalled and ordered and sent to fight an unjust, criminal war. For the average American, this is the case: that American power and prestige in the world needed to be asserted. By now, the irony of that statement is lost on only a very, very few.

To be perfectly honest, the Iraq war went, incredibly, much better than I thought it would in the very early days of 2003. I knew then it was going to be a total mess, in much the same way as Israel's situation, but it could have been so much worse. All of the Muslim world could have rallied around Hussein and prevented a single drop of oil from passing Hormuz. That didn't happen, and the misery resulting from the economic dislocation of this was somehow, unbelievably, avoided. There have been kidnappings, assasinations and attacks on Americans around the world (embassy staff are killed by orders of magnitude more than field and general grade officers - and are very security conscious), but by and large, all our embassies are still intact.

I'm also certain, though, that we haven't seen the end. Muslims still hold an immense grudge against the West (mainly the United States). Tensions between Russia and the West (mainly the United States) run just beneath the surface of our somewhat amicable relations. China becomes more assertive, as when she announces support for measures like the proposal for a new international reserve currency to replace the US dollar - spurred on by problems emanating mainly from the United States.

Interesting times indeed.

One other thing: I just want to thank everyone who took the time to comment, and gave this admittedly weak diary more attention than it deserved.

Display:
I'm still no closer to an answer. The idea, mentioned here to "enclose" Iraq's oil seems the most plausible to me. Plans to turn east and enclose Iran's oil afterwards seems, in light if the history, at least possible.

I don't know how they thought they'd get away with it, and frankly, I'm depressed at the situation as it stands today.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 11:33:21 AM EST
Jerome's point is a good one, that you can't extract oil in the face of a resisting population.

But these jokers genuinely believed that they were liberating Iraq from the yoke of Saddam, and that everything would be hunky-dory once the benefits of free market capitalism became apparent.

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that with the correct analysis, strategy and execution, they could actually have achieved their aims.

But that's not what happened, is it? It was probably the biggest strategic fuck-up since......the last one.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 12:10:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is why I have problems with the oil motive. The vulnerability of oil infrstructure has been well known for a long, long time. Likewise the ease with which shipping can be attacked in the gulf.

If oil were the motive, I'd have expected to see a concerted effort to stabilize the country right after the troops reached Baghdad, and as I mention above, there was no plan to do so.

Which leaves me with the only other motive I can think of, which strikes me as so improbable I never mentioned it: Cheney & al just wanted to kick some Arab butt and show the world who is boss.

Adolescent. Criminally adolescent.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 12:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so improbable I never mentioned it: Cheney & al just wanted to kick some Arab butt
Why is that improbable? We're talking about Cheney et al.

USA Today: Ex-aide: Bush ignored terror threat (3/20/2004)

As early as Sept. 12, 2001, Clarke says, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged bombing Iraq despite repeated assurances from intelligence officials that the threat emanated from Afghanistan.

"Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq," Clarke said on Sunday's 60 Minutes. "I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.' "

The Iraq war was seen by Rumsfeld as just target practice for the USAF...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 06:47:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru
Why is that improbable? We're talking about Cheney et al.

Because if that's all it is, then we're talking a kind of group insanity to think this would be worth risking any American lives. Or that it could ever be acceptable. Because that reason has never leaked and somebody would have said, "wait a minute. . . ." That's the kind of secret that always gets out eventually.

If they were all on an "America is the sole superpower" trip and wanted to show the world, or if they thought they could bully Muslim nations into submission, then not only are they insane, they're just plain dumb. Granted, there are many who feel in their heart-of-hearts this way, but say what you will, from the evidence of how well they played both the bureaucratic game as well as (what passed for) the journalism game, they aren't dumb. In fact, they were quite determined, and able to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Point B was getting us into Iraq. I'm trying to figure out what point C is.

Can I believe that the game is to cleanse the West Bank of Palestinians? Yes. The West Bank is a huge salient that the IDF would love to have under sole Israeli control. And the religious extremists in Israel want nothing more than to settle all of eretz Yisrael.

Maybe that's the play. With Americans in Iraq, the Israelies have much more leeway to do as they will in the West Bank. Syria aren't about to lift a finger with the US army behind their backs. Jordan, the Saudis and Egyptians are all bought...that could be it.

Come to think of it, that's the only reason I can come up with (sick though it is, but remember, I'm trying to put myself in their shoes). Iraq was always the target. Has Israel merely siezed the opportunity the US presented? Or was it coordinated?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 09:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
papicek:
Migeru
Why is that improbable? We're talking about Cheney et al.
Because if that's all it is, then we're talking a kind of group insanity to think this would be worth risking any American lives.
Yes, and?
Or that it could ever be acceptable. Because that reason has never leaked and somebody would have said, "wait a minute. . . ."
You sound like you were not in the US in 2001-3... People did question the drive to war and were duly ignored.
That's the kind of secret that always gets out eventually.
Did you miss my quotation of Richard Clarke?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 04:00:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmmm...Armitage and Clarke. Point well made.

My point is that the "circle" didn't disintegrate as it had during the Watergate mess. I guess that's what I was looking for. The omerta held.

Still, I think they had, inter alia, some overarching motive for the invasion.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 09:10:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
papicek:
My point is that the "circle" didn't disintegrate as it had during the Watergate mess. I guess that's what I was looking for. The omerta held.
You saw what happened to Libby. He was sacrificed and didn't try or wasn't able to save himself by implicating others.

Lewis Libby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On December 10, 2007, Libby's lawyers announced that he would drop his appeal of his conviction in the case, leaving intact his remaining sentence and fine and leaving on his record his felony conviction, unless he were granted a full presidential pardon.[20] The next day, December 11, 2007, Bush issued 29 pardons but did not include Libby among them.[21][22]
Aw, shucks. Rome doesn't pay traitors.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 09:25:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we're looking at a long standing rift between Bush and Cheney. Cheney screwed Bush bad over. I don't think we've had another VP like him since Aaron Burr. Bush didn't go beyond minimal damage control and left the rest to time ticking off his- and shady Dick's- mandates.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 10:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed on the rift between Cheney/Rumsfeld and Bush. I think he finally got it that he was rolled.

Just goes to show you that you don't elect a regular guy with modest (in Bush's case, this is generous) accomplishments into power in DC. Sharks swim there.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 08:05:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is why I have problems with the oil motive. The vulnerability of oil infrstructure has been well known for a long, long time. Likewise the ease with which shipping can be attacked in the gulf.

But the only one of these dimwits who has anything resembling real experience at the sharp end of the stick is Colin Powell... and he was kept out of the loop because he was a political risk.

The rest of them are serial fuck-ups in everything they've ever done except the Washington patronage game. I wouldn't be surprised if their mental image of the world outside the Beltway does not compare favourably to a bad computer game.

And nobody is going to tell them that they're wrong. Because the first thing they did when they came into office was to start making examples of all the people who told them that they were wrong, on even the most minute detail.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2009 at 05:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But these jokers genuinely believed that they were liberating Iraq from the yoke of Saddam, and that everything would be hunky-dory once the benefits of free market capitalism became apparent.

The problem I have with this, is were it not for the oil, they wouldn't have cared one whit. Which makes it a PR excuse, not the underlying motivation.

You see the circles my mind has been going around in for all these years?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 12:23:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
point about the inability to extract a flammable, dispersed resource 'under fire' is insightful, but the schemers (Cheney, et al) had to stick with the 'advice' of Chalabi, etc. concerning the Iraqi citizenry. (One thing that schemers know is that you cannot play Hamlet, if you want people to follow your plan.)

However, the point about the actual petroleum resource is not germane, whether accurate or not. If you visited the U.S. DOE web-site from 2003 through 2006, their 'page' on Iraq was high-side optimistic about the unproven 'reserves' in the western desert (al Anbar) of Iraq. In other words that was the CW of our federal government.

I returned to the site in late 2007, and the 'page' had changed. The estimates were much more circumspect - perhaps not so much due to collected data, as increased awareness of the political implication. This was about the time that the PDA arrangements for foreign (mostly U.S.) were being negotiated.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 02:08:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But they never gave a thought to the Iraqis. They never imposed a curfew right after siezing Baghdad, all the senior officers left and put the whole mess in the hands of the most junior General at that time, Ricardo Sanchez.

There was never any guidance at all from Washington about what to do with Iraq once it was conquered. Which is why Bremer blindsided Cheney and Rumsfeld with his op-ed piece in the NY Times as well as his reconstruction plans. Powell's Iraq Study Group on reconstruction was torpedoed by Rumsfeld. Jay Garner was flown in with lots of press, told to do good work, and then forgotten. They never even issued the guy an office with a phone. But they never made any move that implied conquest, reconstruction, and oil exploitation.

No. I think it was Wolfowitz' plan after all: screw the Palestinians. I could never figure out how until Gaza, then the stories about the settlements, and the evictions from East Jerusalem came out in the US.

God, I'm dumb. I knew about the Wolfowitz quote. The West Bank should have been the first thing I thought of.

And this is exactly the kind of thing I'd expect of Cheney.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 09:37:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
papicek:
No. I think it was Wolfowitz' plan after all: screw the Palestinians. I could never figure out how until Gaza, then the stories about the settlements, and the evictions from East Jerusalem came out in the US.

I don't see the connection between screwing the Palestinians and invading Iraq. What's the logic?

I think they made no plans because they thought the people would be dancing in the streets once they got rid of Saddam, and would then recommence business as usualunder the benevolent eye of Uncle Sam.

They were planning production sharing agreements right from the get go, though.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 05:25:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're exactly right, Chris.  It is folly to underestimate neocon delusion.  They were absolutely convinced they were the men on white horses, divinely ordained to create the American Rome, the New American Century.  They needed a crusade to whip the citizenry up, and 9/11 delivered it.  The fact that they would all become obscenely rich and powerful along the way was simply the inevitable and just reward for being right.
by rifek on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 06:44:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rifek:
They were absolutely convinced they were the men on white horses, divinely ordained to create the American Rome, the New American Century.
They thought they were Vulcans
The Vulcans is a nickname used to refer to Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush's foreign policy advisory team assembled to brief him prior to the 2000 U.S. presidential election. The Vulcans were led by Condoleezza Rice and included Richard Armitage, Robert Blackwill, Stephen Hadley, Richard Perle, Dov S. Zakheim, Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz. Other key campaign figures including Dick Cheney, George P. Shultz and Colin Powell were also closely associated with the group but were never actually members.


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2009 at 05:36:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ChrisCook:
I don't see the connection between screwing the Palestinians and invading Iraq. What's the logic?

Apart from generally demoralizing the Muslim center in surrounding countries, by putting a big American force in the region, behind Syria's back, any overt move Syria made against Israel in support of Palestinian expulsion from the West Bank, could (would) be effectively countered by the US forces already there. (Probably the real reason for the Status of Forces Agreement.) Remember, Iraq had the largest army east of Israel, and the US rolled over it in three weeks. Lebanon has been a mess for a long time and is unable to respond, Jordan has very close ties to the US and won't respond (I don't know how much support we give the regime in Jordan, but I've heard it is sizable), Egypt is the second largest recipient of US aid and amenable to "suggestions" from Washington, as we've seen in Cairo's support of the Israeli action in Gaza. With troops in Iraq, Iran is blocked from sending military aid. All of which leaves Syria.

With any overt response effectively blocked, the IDF can concentrate on the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The logic behind the IDF's interest is that by expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, a huge salient right in the heart of Israel comes safely under control.

I'm not saying that this is the "plan," but I wonder if the Iraqi invasion, which ran contrary to actual American interests, was aimed at giving Israel a free hand in doing what the hardliners there have always wanted to do: reclaim Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

My conjecture that the actual chain of events after 2003 is the result of a deliberate move by the US to screw the Palestinians was perhaps "planned" to the extent that Israel needn't worry about regional reprisals, and freed to take the actions she has taken against the Palestinians.

We see life becoming intolerable for the Palestinians in the West Bank and evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. We know about the land grab going on in the West bank and of the evictions going on in East Jerusalem, which is undergoing an enclosure of its own as a settlement bloc on the far side of it.


  • Shergald reported on stories from Spiegal and Ha'aretz, that the Israeli Defense Ministry closely monitors the growth of the settlements.

  • The BBC reports (26 March 2009) that the Israeli government actively supports settlement growth contrary to its official position.

  • Peace Now's various reports on Israeli expansion into the West Bank.

  • Ha'aretz reports (2 Feb 2009) that at least one settlement "bloc" is set to "massively expand".

  • An EU commission reported (9 March 2009) that:
    Long-standing Israeli plans for Jerusalem, now being implemented at an accelerated rate, are undermining prospects for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and a sustainable two- state solution.

  • Is it working? From Wikipedia:
    Since early 1997, following the Hebron Agreement, the city has been divided into two sectors: H1 and H2. The H1 sector, home to around 120,000 Palestinians, came under the control of the Palestinian Authority. H2, which was inhabited by around 30,000 Palestinians, remained under Israeli military control to protect several hundred Jewish residents in the old Jewish quarter. A large drop has since taken place in the Palestinian population in H2, identified with the impact of extended curfews, strict restrictions on movement with 16 check-points in place, the closure of Palestinian commercial activities near settler areas, and settler harassment.

Be it said that no new "settlement" activity has been attempted since 1996, which ought to blow my theory out of the water, except for a change of color:

Peace Now on "outposts":

Since 1996, no government has officially decided upon the establishment of a new settlement on the West Bank.  In order to continue to occupy additional land in the West Bank, the settlement leadership, with the close assistance of very senior elements within the government, decided to establish outposts, intent upon establishing faits accomplis in the field and taking control of new areas.  Most of the outposts have been established in key points in the midst of Palestinian population centers, and deep into the West Bank, thereby attempting to create territorial continuity between the existing settlements and breaking up the contiguity existing between the Palestinian townships.  Thus, the settlers are trying to thwart the possibility of the existence of a contiguous Palestinian state on the West Bank.

The more I look at the activity and the dates, the less I think of my brain fart. You can tell from the title I had little faith in this from the beginning. This idea seemed like the best, and I still think, given Wolfowitz' quote, that it is likely a root motivation of the invasion. Oil plays its slimy role, of course, and WMD was a smokescreen from the outset. At times, the US is on record as vigorously protesting settlement activity, yet I also note that the date of this protest is 2006, a year after Wolfowitz shifted over to the World Bank, and a year after Condi Rice rose to become Bush's Secretary of State with the mandate to defend her boss' legacy. It came at a time of strong US objection to the war in Iraq became manifest, a time when Cheney was fading from the scene and as Rumsfeld was preparing to resign, as he did that November.

Their work was done. It's Bibi's turn now. Or else I should remind myself that brain farts are best kept in the sock drawer.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 10:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean, enclose Iraq's oil for future (perhaps exclusive) consumption?

Greg Palast was putting up that version about 3 years ago. Big Oil companies have that strategy since 1920s, the story goes...

It it not a pretty exercise, but it is worthwhile to consider the possibility that the troublesome and critical situations today constitute something "as planned". As some say, always look at who is profiting. Especially if wars and crises are "rationally" recognized as the best ways to concentrate the power (for whatever purpose), conspiroid answers make more sense than others. Was the Iraq war just a human sacrifise ritual before something more serious?

by das monde on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 05:44:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After 9/11, the US needed to kick some Ayrab ass, and Iraq was the easiest ass to kick (already down and mostly unarmed), and the easiest to justify (known evil tyrant, long history of playing with UN).

Plus the oil for some, plus the revenge for some, plus the sense of unfisnished business of some, plus Chalabi's push for some, etc... but fundamentally, it was a bully exacting revenge for his humiliation on the nearest available target.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 06:46:15 PM EST
I don't buy that.

It omits the Al Qaeda fundie religious Clash of Civilisations element. Say what you like about Saddam, but an ayatollah he was not. If it was all about taking down Ayrabs then Real Men Go to Tehran, with whom they had serious form, and plenty of ordnance to do the business

For me it's oil first, Ayrab ass second, and everything else a poor third.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 08:20:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but you did not have "Real Men" in the WH, you had chickenhawks.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 11:51:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but it doesn't invalidate my point.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 12:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes it does. America attacked Iraq because it was weak and defenseless, is because they could, not because it had oil.

It's like the guy looking for his wallet under the lamppost, because that's where there's light.

Iraq's weakness (and ass-kickability) was its main quality.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2009 at 05:54:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Going after Iran before neutralising Iraq would have left Iraq able to play games in Saudi Arabia. And the Americans are really protective about Saudi Arabia.

That, and the fact that even the most braindead Washington paper-pusher would have realised that Iran would kick the Americans' butts before they got two hundred km into the country.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2009 at 05:47:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oil was always foremost, obviously.  

The US did NOT expect to fight a guerrilla war, despite such a war being obvious to those outside the US Government.  This is really a matter of fact, not speculation, confirmed by internal documents even more than public announcements.  

The US DID, at the end of the invasion, secure the Iraqi oil ministry.  It was just about the only thing they did secure (aside from prime real estate in the future Green Zone) or thought worth securing.  

Revenge for 9/11 is certainly not a motive, as the US had already launched one (failing) war of "revenge," a year and a half earlier (Aghanistan).  As others have pointed out many times, Iraq had no connection to 9/11 and the US Government had to construct elaborate and clever lies to convince people that it did.  Which is to say, 9/11 was an excuse, not a motive.  

The idea about revenge for threats to Bush's dad is a story that is pricelessly cute.  No president can pursue a personal agenda that crosses the most powerful interests, as well as those of his own backers.  Can't happen.  If George really thought he was being allowed to avenge his dad, well, I'm sure he was just encouraged in his delusions.  Then again, the story might just have been more prolefeed.  

While you emphasize technical issues, and are right about those issues, such concerns were no part of the thinking of the planners--who actually thought that oil revenues would pay the cost of the war.  

The point is that the US had already been structurally bankrupt for over a decade.  The problem:  How to keep the game going.  Solution:  Create asset bubbles and borrow anew to pay off old loans and grab new sources of revenue--such as oil.  There would be no virtue to the invasion if it cost more than it yielded--economically or strategically.  

That it was a net loss on both counts is why the Republicans are no longer in office.  

MEANWHILE we have an ironic update from The Oil Drum.  Although Iraq's oil reserves may well be vast (as is almost always assumed), the easy oil is most likely mostly (some 80 %) gone.  What is left is hard-to-get oil that the war has perhaps taken off line forever.  The extensive investment that would have been needed is now augmented by war damage that would also need to be repaired and in all reasonable scenerios the requisite physical security can not be reliably maintained.  This opens an interesting possibility:  That announced American plans to leave Iraq in a few years may not be mere lies and deception.  By that time all the easy oil may have been pumped, and there will be no reason to stay.  

Some new strategy will have to be devised.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Apr 29th, 2009 at 03:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Best laid plans go astray. Imagine the slipshod ones, heavily conditioned by ideology. As das monde notes above the oil resources of the Middle East have been a matter of contention since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

I recall one episode that illustrates a certain conceptual blindness, an ethical denial that such a major event as a war could be driven by sheer greed. In December 2001 several secret meetings were held in Rome between Americans, Iranians and Italians. The meeting was arranged by Ledeen and Ghorbanifar. According to the testimony of the then chief of the Italian secret services SISMI, Nicolò Pollari, throughout the meeting the only thing that was discussed were the oil reserves of Iraq with maps of Iraq resources all over the place. The Iranians who ran the Iraqi Shi'ite organizations presumably were striking a backdoor deal with the Americans.

Ledeen heatedly denied the scoop and declared he would sue the two authors of the story, Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D'Avanzo. He asserted that the meetings were held to save American lives in Afghanistan, that Pollari could not have made similar declarations. He also asserted (correctly) that the two reporters had got the hotels' names wrong. (The meetings were actually held in a well known hotel just off Piazza Navona.)

I personally tend to see Ledeen from an Italian perspective as epitomized in the words of his long time collaborator, Francesco Pazienza. Pazienza depicted him as single-mindedly obsessed with making money.

In the end there were backdoor operations with envoys sent to Teheran to negotiate Teheran's stance. Once again, as with Reagan and Khomeini, the Iranians outwitted Cheney's backdoor boys. Rafsanjani was not elected president as many would have wished.

In 2002 the neocon crowd organized with Chalabi a big shebang in London where all the purported opposition leaders got together to arrange the future government. A good word was put in for the last king's heir. Plenty of hand shaking. Everything under control. Woolsey happy as a lark. The INC would make things smooth. There would be plenty of big bucks for everyone- and there were. Things didn't quite go as planned- or did they? The bottom line is that a clique of backdoor boys paying lip service to a shoddy ideology made fortunes.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 06:55:06 AM EST
de Gondi:
I recall one episode that illustrates a certain conceptual blindness, an ethical denial that such a major event as a war could be driven by sheer greed.

Well put.

I think it is a combination of sheer greed - the confluence of Big Oil and Big Money - and the ruthless pragmatism superbly illustrated from 1.10 to 1.40 by Cliff Robertson in this clip.



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 07:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great clip with Robertson's last taunt about the NYT. He's right. There are plenty of stories that don't make it for a variety of reasons, some good, some not.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 10:54:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're looking for a single factor explanation of the result of a confluence of different factors. There were lots of forces pushing the Bush administration into the war, and not enough pushing them away. Thus the war.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 07:29:56 AM EST
A partial list ...

  • Domestic political advantage of an easy win - which they expected.
  • Lots of business for their friends.
  • Validation of the neo-con project. These guys were comitted to the idea that Saddam was a "bad guy" and that they had a right and duty to "take him out".
  • Prestige.
  • War is a good cover for expanding power. "War leader"
  • Oil.
  • Add your own ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 07:35:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All of these except oil are tactical factors.

In strategic terms I believe that it is necessary to look at US foreign policy in the last 100 years through the prism of energy security.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 08:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or maybe energy securing...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 08:22:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is the general conclusion I came to.

As far as I can tell, there was no central organizing principle behind the thing. Which doesn't make me feel any better because it's kinda sad, all the reasons (rationalizations) people can come up with for going to war.

The diary is title so for a reason. Thanks for your input.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2009 at 10:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and you can't take what they'll be saying from now on as any guide as to why they did it in the first place - memory plays funny games with us.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 07:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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