On Balance

Tyranny in Iraq was worth defeating

– Dick Cheney.

You bet your big bare ass it was, Dick. Indeed, if this Jim Holt character in the London Review of Books is to believed, it would appear that, on balance, the programme to liberate Iraqis has gone according to plan.

The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Hosannah! For a minute there, I was worried that Dick Cheney’s fevered and unceasing dream of freedom and opportunity for all was all going horribly pear-shaped. Fortunately, our emperors in their infinite wisdom had already figured that a million or so deaths was a price worth paying on the Iraqis’ part for our access to their oil. Actually, they probably didn’t factor the Iraqi deaths into their cost-benefit analysis. They were so concerned with delivering democracy that they probably forgot.

But anyway, which side of the culture war are you on: are you a cargo-pant and t-shirt wearing warrior for democracy, or a mullah-worshipping cringer for Islamo-fascism?

2 Responses to “On Balance”

  1. 1 Tomaltach October 24, 2007 at 9:23 am

    The LRB article is certainly provocative. I am a little suspicious of the reasoning though. He estimates the cost of occupation to run at $1 trillion. But it’s already nearly half way there. The long term commitment to Iraqi basis required to secure the proceeds from the oil would surely push this beyong the $billion. We are talking about a few decades. Plus the estimate of $30 trillion in value seems too high if there are 115 million barrels. I make it more like half that. Even if production costs are low comparatively speaking, the deserve to be mentioned. Plus, while American companies would take a huge chunk of this, they wouldn’t get it all. In short, the figures, while still making a fairly compelling case for a financial success, are far less attractive than the start $30 trillion for $1 trillion. Furthermore, there are other costs and massive risks, not least of which is the extra instability of the entire region and the very real power gains for Iran.

    Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that even if the figures were to be only break-even, the result would be a huge transfer of wealth from the American taxpayer to the owners of a small number of giant oil companies.

  2. 2 Hugh Green October 25, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Fair comment. Also, one of the success criteria he uses here is cheap oil. Yet oil prices haven’t fallen since the invasion. Quite the opposite, in fact. So we need to ask: setback, or leap forward in strategic terms? I mean, is it really in the interests of the likes of Dick Cheney and giant oil companies to have low oil prices?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

I on Twitter

October 2007
« Sep   Nov »

%d bloggers like this: