2008 How to Win an Oil War
posted by August 20 at 16:48 PMon
The surge has worked like shaken baby syndrome works: Things have quieted down, but nobody in their right minds would consider the situation likely to end up well in the long term.
When I hear McCain, channeling Bush, prattling on about winning the war in Iraq, I have to wonder: What does he mean by win? A stable, free and democratic Iraq? Not going to happen. We all know it, I’d hope even McCain knows it.
When we leave, the oil-bearing parts of the country will become the effective property of Iran. In turn, Iran will be embroiled in an insurgency of its own. Eventually, when the country is hollowed out enough, it’ll become at best a petty oil-dictatorship.
Can we be honest with ourselves, even if just for a moment? This war was about oil. In any candid sense, ‘victory in Iraq’ means we have access, perhaps exclusive access, to the vast oil resources contained within its borders. Everything else is gingerbread.
We’d like to forget—in the midst of all this flowery talk about spreading democracy, freedom-loving peoples and our love for the Iraqi people—that the first public declaration in favor of this war was fear—of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of someone beyond ourselves. All of this nation building rhetoric was bolted on, to cover the gaping lack of such weapons being used on the approaching US troops, or found buried in the sand.
And contrary to the consensus on the left, I think just about everyone in America connected enough to have an opinion on the war understood that it was people from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, that attacked us. So many, including Osama himself, from Saudi Arabia (first known as the ARAMCO, the Arab/American oil Company) was the fear. If we couldn’t trust Saudi Arabia for our oil (#1 in proven oil reserves), we could tame Iraq (#2 in proven reserves) and tell the Saudis to finally fuck off.
How satisfying that would’ve been.
McCain fashions himself as some sort of a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt. Good thing, perhaps, if his plan to ensure continued American affluence is to do so on top of a mountain of human skulls.
A war over a resource like oil is a very 19th century sort of war, requiring 19th century attitudes and tactics. If the goal is the oil, the Iraqi people are in the way. Superfluous, useless. Winning a war like this, to dominate and extract petrochemicals, means being rid of many and cowing the remainder of the people unfortunately situated on and around the resource.
Well, what would that sort of victory look like? How could we have gotten there, to that very dark but affluent place so many of us seem to desire? (McCain’s willingness to talk of victory in wars like Iraq, to drill anywhere, to cling onto oil at any cost is my suspected source for his recent bump in the polls.)
Invade, ignoring the pleas of our many deeply loyal allies to just not do this. Do so with a force too small to successfully occupy and control the country after the fall of the government. Refuse to negotiate any sort of truce or surrender, cut any deal. Make it clear that we intend to fire and throw into poverty everyone in the government and military, rather than just bribe those already in power to play along with us.
In short, maximize the chance that, out of desperation, the opposing government will use any of the chemical, biological or nuclear weapons at their disposal. Make sure they have nothing left to lose, and only the grimmest post-invasion future ahead. If such weapons are not used—because they are not available, or the collapsing government has a moment of humanistic wisdom—fake such an attack on our own troops.
When such weapons are used on US troops, claim horror—and the need to retaliate in kind to maintain the stability of mutually assured destruction. Systematically vaporize inconvenient population blocks, located in oil rich regions, using nuclear bombs.
Wait the few weeks for the radiation to damn down to near-background levels—we have bombs just for this purpose—and then calmly occupy the resource-laden territory and start pumping the oil. Import labor as needed. When these fields are drained, repeat.
It might take decades for the last drops of accessible oil to dry up, but it’s coming. We can either get really good at fighting over the scraps or start working now on the alternates.
In our minds, we need to sharpen the choice in this upcoming election—between a man interested in using belligerence and the strong arm of war, military and government to sustain an unsustainable reliance on a dwindling resource and a man trying seriously to work on the alternate.
Victory in Iraq is imaginable, in all its horrors. So is victory without Iraq. We should at least be honest about the cowardly path we are backing towards, yet again.