Up, or Down

What is Bush doing in the Middle East? Craig Unger has a theory.

CRAIG UNGER: Well, I think it’s a good opportunity to look at the decline of American power going back to 9/11. If you go back to that point, back then the price of oil was $28 a barrel. Just after 9/11, the Saudis flooded the oil market to reduce the price of oil in a show of good will. Of course, fifteen out of nineteen hijackers were Saudis, but they needed to win approval from the United States.
Today, the US is in a much, much weaker position. And Bush goes there with a $20 billion weapons package. That’s about all he has to offer. At the same time, he’s trying to bring down the price of oil. I think he’ll have very little success there. And the price of oil has more than quadrupled to about $100 a barrel.

Greg Palast does not concur:

Let’s begin by stating why Bush is not in Saudi Arabia. Bush ain’t there to promote ‘Democracy’ nor peace in Palestine, nor even war in Iran. And, despite what some pinhead from CNN stated, he sure as hell didn’t go to Riyadh to tell the Saudis to cut the price of oil.

What’s really behind Bush’s hajj to Riyadh is that America is in hock up to our knickers. The sub-prime mortgage market implosion, hitting a dozen banks with over $100 billion in losses, is just the tip of the debt-berg.

Since taking office, Bush has doubled the federal debt to more than $5 trillion. And, according to US Treasury figures, on net, foreign investors have purchased close to 100% of that debt. That’s $3 trillion borrowed from the Saudis, the Chinese, the Japanese and others.

Now, Bush, our Debt Junkie-in-Chief, needs another fix. The US Treasury, Citibank, Merrill-Lynch and other financial desperados need another hand-out from Abdullah’s stash. Abdullah, in turn, gets this financial juice by pumping it out of our pockets at nearly $100 a barrel for his crude.

Bush needs the Saudis to charge us big bucks for oil. The Saudis can’t lend the US Treasury and Citibank hundreds of billions of US dollars unless they first get these US dollars from the US. The high price of oil is, in effect, a tax levied by Bush but collected by the oil industry and the Gulf kingdoms to fund our multi-trillion dollar governmental and private debt-load.

They can’t both be right. Palast’s explanation seems a lot more convincing to me. Is Bush going to go against his oil-producing friends and try and push their profits downwards? Or is he going to shave his dog’s ass and teach it to walk backwards? These are the questions that plague me today.

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