Archive for September 18th, 2007

On Not Speaking To Evil

As the war drums get battered ever louder, here’s an interesting take on Iran and the US from Shlomo Ben-Ami. He is pointing towards a solution to the current tension by way of a grand bargain between Iran and the US.


In the American-Iranian equation it was the United States, not Iran, that conducted rigid ideological diplomacy. Iran backed the US during the first Gulf war, but was left out of the Madrid peace conference. Iran also supported America in its war to depose the Taliban in Afghanistan. And, when American forces overran Saddam Hussein’s army in the spring of 2003, the encircled Iranians proposed a grand bargain that would put all contentious issues on the table, from the nuclear issue to Israel, from Hizbullah to Hamas. The Iranians also pledged to stop obstructing the Israeli-Arab peace process.

But American neoconservative haughtiness – “We don’t speak to evil” – ruled out a pragmatic response to Iran’s demarche.

Iran’s mood changed by the time America’s entire Middle East strategy had gone adrift, but the grand bargain remains the only viable way out of the impasse.

Rest of article here. It could all be pie-in-the-sky, though, since it appears based on the assumption that the current US administration would in fact be interested in pragmatism. Is there evidence to suggest that it would?

Oil Me Up, I’m Goin’ In

You might have thought that failed jazz musician Alan Greenspan’s words about oil and Iraq:

“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

implied some sort of criticism of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Not so, as he helpfully clarifies in this Wall Street Journal interview:

Tell me about your views on the importance of deposing Saddam.

My view of the second Gulf War was that getting Saddam out of there was very important, but had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, it had to do with oil. My view of Saddam over the 20 years … was that he was very critically moving towards control of the Strait of Hormuz and as a consequence of that, control of the oil market. His purpose would be very much similar to [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez’s actions and I think it would be very dangerous for us. So getting him out to me seemed a very important priority.

So, there you have it. Raving lunatic and eternal outsider Alan Greenspan says Iraqi civilians needed bombing because the US needed to exercise control of the oil market.  Crazy bastard.  What next? The US needs to bomb Iran to exercise control of the oil market? He should keep his flights of fancy to his sax playing.

On a side note, the idea that it was ‘largely about oil’ tends to obscure the fact that oil is largely about other things.

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September 2007
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