Backtalk, May 6, 2008

What the Iraq War Is About

I don’t think so! I do not think Bush or Cheney care even one little bit about Israel. I do not think it is about peak oil, either. One day in an article that impressed me was a simple saying that makes complete sense: “follow the money.” Well, when you try to do that it is impossible because a lot of the money that goes to Iraq just vanishes. What I am saying is that that money vanishes to companies that are colluding with Bush and Cheney. Money might be made out of thin air but cannot just vanish there. That money went someplace.

~ Sparky Z.

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

This is silly. Look at all the slavish declarations by the presidential candidates to the defense of Israel, including Hillary’s “obliteration of Iran.” Look at all the neocon writings and consider that the neocons filled every important position to do with foreign and military policy and took control of U.S. intelligence. Look at the media’s slavish support of Israel and the lack of any criticism or truthful reporting. Look at the demise of every U.S. politician who ever offended the Israel lobby. Look at the Christian evangelical movement with its Christian Zionists and rapture evangelicals. Millions of Americans are slavish toward Israel, and the rest are completely in the dark about Israel’s responsibility for the Arab backlash.

There are plenty of ways for politicians to make money without taking the risk of naked aggression, a war crime.

Paul Craig Roberts is the only commentator I have heard who is totally, fully awake, with eyes wide open.

He sees the whole sham for what it is.

More important, he has started to call the American people to account as well. This is long overdue. The massive crimes that are being perpetrated in the Middle East and elsewhere cannot be laid fully at the door of just the Bush regime or the puppet media. The American people are the enablers – if only by doing nothing, and caring about nothing.

I don’t see this malaise going away any time soon and people suddenly just snapping out of their materialistic, celebrity-obsessed torpor.

So the sound of Roberts’ voice – and of others who see the fabric of this American society disintegrating – has the distinctly sad echo of a lone man on a mountain top.

At least his conscience will be clear when this rotten ship finally goes under.

~ Gordon Arnaut

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

I agree with Gordon Arnaut that a people devoid of a moral conscience cannot survive. A people indifferent to others end up devouring one another or being devoured by the police-state bureaucracy that they accept in order to feel “safe.” It is difficult to see any future for liberty in America. What kind of people are Americans that they can accept the destruction of two countries because of lies told by their president?

Thanks to Paul Craig Roberts for another impassioned opinion piece.

I think his dismissal of oil being a main motivation for the war is off the mark, however. Roberts is far from being alone among commentators when he muddles the difference between access to oil and control of oil.

As Roberts accurately recounts, access to oil was never a serious concern for the U.S., as it is on good terms with its principal suppliers and, regardless, has the wealth to purchase from any potential supplier well into the foreseeable future. Even in times of peak oil, the world’s leading economy would be well-positioned against any competitors to meet higher and higher oil prices.

Control of oil resources is a whole other ballgame. You get to determine which oil fields are developed, which companies get to bid, the setting of production rates, who the purchasers will be, how profits will flow, what currency you will trade in, and so on. Depending on how much oil you control, you can even directly influence the price of crude. In addition to the vast fortune that you will rake in (that otherwise would have gone to the governments sitting on top of the oil), you have tremendous economic and political leverage over any competing economies that badly need these resources (especially in a time of peak oil).

For me this seems to be the real prize that was Iraq. The impact of the invasion on Israel’s security interests is no doubt seen as a desirable corollary but would not have been sufficient motivation for a multi-trillion dollar “project.”

~ Dr. Mike Gaspar, Canada

A Confirming Moment

The reason that the U.S. has decided to target Sadr and the Mahdi Army is they they want the coalition out of Iraq now, and they are likely to win the major Shi’ite vote in the upcoming elections.

The U.S. wants Iraqi oil, and it wants permanent Iraqi bases, so ironically, they have backed Maliki and the Badr brigade, which have far closer ties to Iran but don’t call for the immediate removal of the U.S. The majority of the Iraqi people (in polls) have said they want the U.S. out, the Iraqi parliament (in a non-binding resolution) has said they want the U.S. out. If Sadr’s followers got in power, the U.S. media would find it hard to ignore the message as they have up until now.

Until the U.S. vacates Iraq, there will be permanent war.

~ Julian Welch


I‘d like to thank the staff at not only in its present but also its past iterations (and Justin Raimondo in particular) for helping me along, more than anything else, in reaching my now coherent and rational understanding of American foreign policy.

If you Google”Nathan Higgins antiwar backtalk” or any rearranging thereof, you’ll find an exchange between Mike Ewens and myself (the latter being 18 at the time of publication). It concerns semantic minutiae over Nigergate, the substance of which is somewhat embarrassing (Newsmax), but at the same time it is demonstrative of the intellectual and, hell, emotional struggle that delivered my perception from that of a fledgling Bush myrmidon to its present (permanent) position as an unwavering advocate of international peace and nonintervention.

Living out the great majority of my years in one of the redder states – combined with the moderate, but not severe, psychological trauma of the thirty-seventh Tuesday in two thousand and one – gave rise to an unfortunate mindset that I guess I’d consider fitting for a junior camp counselor for a Bushite version of the Hitler Youth.

Thankfully, I also had an insatiable thirst for “news” that germinated in the fallout of the election before last, and being very much a child of the Internet and someone who thrived on examining an opposing viewpoint to find ways to refute it, I eventually ended up here at (if memory serves, it was a random url entry with no foreknowledge).

Exposure to ideas so diametrically opposed to my own was somehow addictive, although at first I didn’t buy into any of it. In any case, I kept coming back and at some point realized I was looking forward to Justin’s column every other weekday, even though in my mind I would at any perceived opportunity brush aside any sound point I came across with some trite and failed attempt at sophistry. There was a period where I was quite conflicted as to what I believed about Iraq and America’s role at large, couching my support for the war in absurd qualifications (the timing wasn’t right, etc.) that upon self-examination were flimsier than gossamer. I can’t pin down any point where I can be said to have crossed over entirely, but I have unmistakably arrived by now.

I owe you a debt of gratitude that I suppose I can back up with some help during the next pledge week.

~ Nathan Higgins

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