Backtalk, February 13, 2006

The Adulation of Ignorance

Please bear with me because this might sound a bit strange.

I was at a loss to understand the Bush administration’s policies until I recently watched the movie Goldfinger.

In the movie, James Bond discovered that Goldfinger’s target was the gold depository at Fort Knox. But what puzzled 007 was that, although Mr. Goldfinger could get to the gold, it would be totally impossible for him to remove it without being caught.

When Bond asked Goldfinger about this, his reply was that he had no intention of removing the gold. He was simply going to destroy it and in so doing, raise the value of the gold that he already possessed astronomically.

That’s when it hit me: all Bush had to do was to disrupt the flow of oil and that would make the oil prices skyrocket. If the last-quarter profits of the oil companies are any indication, the plan is working just fine.

Additionally, the tremendous money that has been sucked out of the public sector and put into the hands of private military contractors helps to feed the war machine while shredding the social contract.

The goal is war – continual war. It is not important to win. In fact, it is vital not to win. Peace is bad business when your business is war. War itself is the goal. …

~ Wali Muhammad

It seems that there is a reason for the war, and a very important one.

Unless Uncle Sam corners the world market in oil, Iran and the rest of the world will start to trade oil in euros. The dollar will be sold off, and America will drown in red ink.

This fight for oil is therefore a do-or-die, last-ditch effort to save American hegemony and dominance in the world. You can therefore expect that America will spare no effort, and if it thinks it is losing it will almost certainly go nuclear, because if it loses, it goes down.

Also, it has spent so much on this war that it has to win it at all costs because that will be the only way to pay for it!

Altogether a thoroughly dismal prospect.

~ Adrian Culey, Sydney, Australia

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

The U.S. has no possibility of cornering the world market in oil. Russia is a big producer, as are Mexico and Venezuela. The world can trade oil in euros now if it wants to. The dollar’s value depends on the world’s willingness to hold dollar-denominated assets, not on the currency used for oil payments. The dollar’s value will be hurt far more by the additional red ink it will take to attack Iran than by any oil bourse.

I appreciate Paul Craig Roberts’ alarm about the Bush drumbeat for war with Iran, but a lot of war critics seem to sidestep the answer to this obvious question he raises:

“Nothing is gained by endangering oil flows and a Western transportation system dependent on the internal combustion engine.”

He is right in terms of what the average American gains, but there has been one obvious winner in Iraq: the American oil companies given concessions to drill in Iraq and essentially remake Iraq’s oil industry to their liking. This has been pretty well documented, though almost completely unreported in the U.S. press: see “Iraq Timeline,” “Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth,” and “Baghdad Year Zero.”

This is why Bush said that the war is a success that will be appreciated in generations to come. It’s not generations of Americans, but of oil company executives.

If we were just concerned about the flow of oil, we would simply have done what China did with Iran and the tar sands in Canada: buy them with long-term contracts. Instead, we are doing precisely what we did when we overthrew the elected president of Iran in the 1950s. Our oil companies didn’t like the way the profits would be divided up, so they asked us to remove him. The result was the Shah, which led to resentment of the U.S., and eventually the fundamentalist revolution.

I have no doubt that doing the oil companies’ bidding now will have similar results in decades to come.

If any of your readers aren’t familiar with this, they can pick up the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize, by oil insider Daniel Yergin (who now works with Papa Bush at Carlyle Group).

This war has nothing to do with our national security or even prosperity but everything to do with private gain.

These wars are the ultimate expression of socializing risk and privatizing profits.

~ Michael Dixon, Santa Monica, Calif.

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

I have no confidence that an Islamist Shia Iraqi government allied with Iran will let any American oil company operate in Iraq.

Mr. Roberts,

You overlooked this quote, explaining why Mr. Bush isn’t concerned by bad intelligence. Quoted by Robert Parry, 12/16/05: In an interview with Fox News anchor Brit Hume on Dec. 14, Bush acknowledged that he intended to invade Iraq regardless of the WMD evidence. “Knowing what I know today, I would have still made that decision,” Bush said.

“If the weapons had been out of the equation, because the intelligence did not conclude that he had them, it was still the right call?” Hume asked.

“Absolutely,” Bush answered.

~ Sabbeth

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

What this quote means is that Bush did not invade Iraq because of intelligence that Iraq had WMD dangerous to America. However, elsewhere Bush says the weapons intelligence was the reason. In the quote supplied by the reader, Bush does not say why he invaded Iraq. He only says it was the correct thing to do. Obviously, the invasion was not based on any intelligence, and Bush has not told the real reason he invaded. That is the point of my article.

Congratulations.

This is a brilliantly simple argument. Bush (we) invaded Iraq on what Bush (we) now admits was incorrect information. So why do we continue the war?

Of course, Bush (we) didn’t invade Iraq because he (we) really believed Iraq had WMD and/or threatened the U.S. or its Middle East neighbors. The Downing Street memo makes this abundantly clear.

Yes, based on your proposition that Bush (we) mistakenly invaded Iraq, he (we) should apologize and get the hell out. But since your proposition is incorrect, i.e., there was no mistake (as Wolfowitz has said, WMD was the rationale on which most people could agree), we cannot expect logic to prevail.

As to Iran, again you are correct. This is a faux crisis. While it is undeniable that any country that can independently develop a nuclear power generating system can also, without much additional effort, manufacture nuclear weapons, Iran is bound not to do so by the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and has certainly given the IAEA unlimited inspections.

So why is Bush (are we) and, surprisingly, the EU going at this? Hard to find any logic here.

Anyway, thanks for a really good piece here. Hope it circulates widely.

~ David MacMichael, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Bush will never say the real reason he invaded Iraq, or the real reason for attacking Iran. He has said that the invasion was based on intelligence that the U.S. was in danger from Iraq WMD. He has since admitted that his intelligence was wrong. Therefore, according to the reasons Bush gave for the war, he has no reason to continue the war. My purpose is to put Bush and his supporters on the spot. Either stop the war that Bush says is based on a mistake, or tell us the real reason for the war.

I never said that what Bush is saying is right, only that he is saying it.

Dr. Roberts,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your analysis of the upcoming war against Iran as enumerated in “The Adulation of Ignorance.”

You invoke legitimate questions and ask for answers that will, unfortunately, not be forthcoming from this junta that has occupied Washington for the past five years and transformed it into the actual world headquarters for vicious state-sponsored terrorism.

Yet, if I may, humbly, suggest that possibly your analysis has missed what I think is the real reason for America’s march to war against Iran.…

March is often cited as the month that America will once again, illegally and obscenely, attack a sovereign nation that has caused them no harm: for it is in the month of March that Iran will put into effect the decision they made in 2004 to start using the euro instead of the dollar in its petroleum trade, establishing a petroleum market and thus “breaking” the stranglehold of the “petrodollar” monopoly in the world. Iran’s petroleum market will open in March and the euro will replace the dollar in its petroleum trade.

This action on the part of Iran will make the Anglo/American stranglehold in international petroleum trade collapse. The petroleum markets on New York and London are about to receive a severe and heavy blow from the Iranians. I am sure at this stage that the New York Mercantile exchange, controlled by the Americans, is in a state of heightened panic at what lays ahead for their doomed, monopolistic empire.

The implications for the American economy under this scenario are frightening, especially if China and Russia were to start using the euro in their trading with the European Union? What would one imagine the catastrophic impact would be on the USA if the Arab oil-producing countries also decided to use the euro? If this Iranian first salvo takes hold and there is a switch from the dollar to the euro, what might the impact on the U.S. economy be other than total disaster? It is precisely this disaster that America cannot allow to happen. America will become a banana republic with nuclear weapons. Frightening!

This in my humble opinion is the reason America will attack Iran, and all other reasons given are mere candy floss for the public’s consumption to justify this onerous upcoming action. Yet one also has to wonder at the catastrophic results of such an attack on the rest of the world. Simply put: Iran’s action by switching to the euro will have an impact on the U.S. economy equivalent to a nuclear attack.

~ Albert Hadaway

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

The attack on Iran has been part of the neoconservative program for years. It originated long before the Iranians’ notion of an oil bourse.

By threatening to dump part of their dollar holdings, the Chinese and Japanese can cause far greater damage to the dollar than an oil bourse.

The dollar is not likely to be dislodged until there is an alternative reserve currency. When that currency appears, no oil bourse will be necessary.


Why Libertarians Should be Critical of War

David,

You indicate that the Iranian government stole the oil fields from private (foreign-owned) companies in 1953. Didn’t these companies steal the oil fields from the government (the people) in the first place?!

~ Stan L.

David Henderson replies:

Dear Stan,

You might be right. I don’t actually know how the oil companies came to own it. What I do know is that many people, when they see a multinational company operating in another country, immediately assume that it was doing something illegal or unethical. I don’t assume that, but you’re right to point out that I shouldn’t assume the opposite either. I was trying to anticipate an argument that many libertarians would make against my ideas and to say that even if that’s true – and I should have said it that way – it doesn’t justify government overthrow.

Thank you for pointing this out.


“Rotten in Denmark” Backtalk

I see that Justin’s eminently reasonable editorial on the Danish cartoon debacle has elicited the predictable responses, including one repeating the popular European slur that labels Muslims as rapists of Danish girls. Amazing how the rapist charge is always used by these people against those brown devils – whether it be the aborigines in Australia, the Maori in New Zealand, native Americans in the American West, blacks in the segregationist South, Jews in Nazi Germany – all these dark-skinned/Semitic guys are always foaming-at-the-mouth sexual predators of white women. I guess they’re all part of the same club membership.

Let us clarify a few things: in early 2004, Denmark was singled out by the EU commission on human rights for increased racist incidents against Muslims (or people assumed to be Muslims) and reprimanded for it. The anti-immigrant language in Denmark has heated up to the extent that a leading politician called Muslims a “cancer” and then said that the way to cure cancer is to kill it. A dear friend of mine (a young Muslim student born and raised in Denmark, whose parents emigrated from Algeria) has had her veil torn and ripped apart in front of her three times, she now has given up buying any more. And Muslims have been the victims of increased violent attacks. Public discussion of Muslims has become more and more openly racist (as evidenced by one of your letter writers). The cartoons are part of this hate campaign against Muslims, making it more and more acceptable to wage war on them. Of course, the fundamentalists played right into this trap.

~ Laura


Rotten in Denmark

Mr. Raimondo,

You were right on mark yesterday. I urge you to reprint an article in today’s NY Times about a meet in Mecca detailing how the hurt feelings were rebuffed. At the same time, it is worth reading what neocon con David Brooks has to say in today’s column.

As a Muslim from India and a follower of Gandhi, I abhor all kinds of violence. Until this morning, I was uncomfortable about the reaction to the cartoons. Having lived among those masses for nearly half a century I understood the hurt and reaction and exploitation by some was not surprising. We in the West will never understand the love and devotion of the masses for the Prophet.

I am hurt and feel insulted too, but I am not supposed to retaliate if I have learnt anything from Prophet’s life and teachings.

A small expression of timely regret by Denmark’s PM would have gone a long way, but it looks like they were meant to hurt and insult.

I end by paraphrasing a line from a favorite prayer by Gandhi: “O Lord, give good sense to all.”

~ AG Dosani


Scooter’s Choice

Justin,

I am a regular reader and supporter of Antiwar.com. I visit the Web site almost daily and encourage my friends to do so also.

My heritage is 50 percent German descent (the other 50 percent is English, also Germanic). I think I read somewhere that 23 percent of the American people are of German descent (at least partially). I am writing to you concerning the above article and to suggest that you call Libby’s defense the “Nazi” defense and not the “German” defense. “We” need ALL the supporters we can get. There is no need to possibly antagonize 23 percent of the American people by derogatory “German” remarks when those remarks more appropriately pertain to mostly the Nazi group.

Just my 2 cents.

~ Lew Spitzer

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