As a typical conservative, I used to support all American war efforts. I supported the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. But I do not support the war in Libya, and it has made me reconsider my support for the other wars.
The war in Libya is transparently an effort by Western governments and power elites to steal Kaddafi’s gold and bank accounts, and to gain access to Libya’s oil on the most favorable possible terms. To say that we are fighting for the freedom of Libyans is obvious nonsense; the new rulers will be Islamist totalitarians. To say that we are protecting the Libyan people by flying 5,300 bombing runs is an absurdity.
Because the war in Libya is clearly for material gain of a few, I cannot support it, and in this I join the majority of Americans. Support for the war in Libya is now down to 20 percent according to this recent poll.
This is way too simple and reductive. For one thing, you’re ignoring the clear statements by the participants, including Obama, as to why they did it. Do you think that “responsibility to protect,” the explicit policy of the administration, has nothing to do with the Libya intervention, and that it is just an elaborate fraud to conceal Obama’s “real” purpose, which is to get a hold of Kaddafi’s wealth and oil? Do you think that the way Obama back in March suddenly switched from opposing the intervention to supporting it had nothing to do with what actually happened that week, namely that Kaddafi flamboyantly boasted of how he was going to kill the rebels in Benghazi, and that Obama got alarmed about this and felt that he could not stand by while this happened? Do you think that Obama’s switch to interventionism in order to protect the people in Benghazi was nothing but an elaborate ruse to conceal his real motive, which was to get a hold of Kaddafi’s wealth and oil?
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Such a fraud would have required a script writer, a cosmic script writer, scripting in advance everything Obama and everyone else was to say on the subject, so that it would appear that Obama was intervening to protect civilians while in reality he was intervening in order to get a better price for oil. The script would have to have Obama resisting for several weeks the calls of France and Britain to intervene, and then the script would require that Kaddafi make those threatening statements about killing people (Kaddafi would have to be in on the cosmic ruse), and then the script would have Obama changing his position, and then the script would require that articles be published about Stephanie Power and her responsibility to protect doctrine which Obama appeared to be following, but of course he wasn’t following it, since it was all a trick. All of this would have to be planned out and scripted in advance.
By making this kind of charge, you sound like the anti-war left and anti-war right about the Iraq war, when they claimed that all of Bush’s arguments about WMDs, about spreading democracy and weakening radical Islam, were nothing but an elaborate fraud, and that the real reason he was invading Iraq was to get hold of Iraqi oil. Oh, and by the way, did that happen? Did we get a hold of Iraqi oil? No. Yet the legions of anti-war people never admitted that their charge had been proved wrong.
You are doing what so many have done, which is that in adopting the “anti-war” position, you believe that the pro-war side is involved in nothing but a sinister conspiracy and that everything they say is nothing but a lie, a lie which just happens to be so complex that no human being could carry it off. Once people adopt this kind of conspiratorial thinking, they cease contributing anything useful to political discussion. They will believe any charge against the side they oppose, no matter how absurd. Instead of opposing the other side for what it is actually doing and what it actually stands for, they oppose it for a variety of imaginary reasons, such as that the war in Iraq was “really” about getting oil, or that the war in Iraq was “really” about helping Israel, which in turn would have meant either (a) that President Bush had spent an entire year deliberately lying to the country about why he was concerned about Iraq, or (b) that Bush was a brainless puppet whose thoughts and words were dictated by evil neocons. Some anti-war rightists, such as Constitution Party Chuck Baldwin, even gave creedance to the “truthers,” who said that Bush was behind the 9/11 attack. In their flight into such demoniacal theories about Bush and the neocons, the anti-war paleocons failed to make the useful and rational arguments against the Iraq war that they could and should have made, and discredited themselves as an intellectual and political force in this country.
What is the right way to deal with issues? It is to oppose policies that you oppose because they’re wrong and harmful, not because you imagine them to be the work of some fantastical conspiracy.
Paul K. writes:
I remember that even during the Vietnam War leftists were explaining that it was all about oil, that the shallow waters of the South China Sea were ideal for off-shore drilling and that the oil companies were desperate to get at the vast reserves there. What ever happened to all that oil?
As for Iraq, not only did we not invade Iraq for the purpose of getting its oil, we have not even managed to use some of the profits of Iraqi oil to defray our fantastic costs. Far from getting a cut-rate deal, the U.S. army pays about as much for fuel in Iraq as American consumers do at home, according to this 2008 AP article:
Think you’re being gouged by Big Oil? U.S. troops in Iraq are paying almost as much as Americans back home, despite burning fuel at staggering rates in a war to stabilize a country known for its oil reserves.
We are truly the suckers of the world!
Military units pay an average of $3.23 a gallon for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, some $88 a day per service member in Iraq, according to an Associated Press review and interviews with defense officials.
JC in Houston writes:
Actually, if the West was really waging the war to obtain Khaddafi’s gold and Libya’s oil, it might make some sense, at least we’d be fighting for real spoils. As it is, I think the underlying reason is the ongoing “democratization” project in the Middle East. We’ve see how THAT’s played out so far in Egypt, Gaza and Tunisia.
Daniel S. writes:
Concerning Obama’s motivations in Libya, I think it has little to do with oil or the usual suspects of the professional antiwar types. I think it had more to do with political calculations on Obama’s part, i.e. he did not want to be perceived by the Europeans or his domestic critics as “doing nothing.” I don’t think Obama has much stomach for spreading democracy by force of arms, but he has even less appetite for looking politically weak on the war issue. This explains Obama’s motivations, and why he waffles so much on the subjects of Afghanistan and Libya.
James P. writes:
The idea that the war in Libya is for material gain is as ridiculous as the idea that the war in Iraq (or Vietnam, or anywhere else) is for material gain. The West was already getting Libya’s oil “on the most favorable possible terms” when we attacked them. If we were not, then the easiest way to get “the best terms” would be to cut a deal with Kaddafi, not to attack him. Same with Iraq in 2003—if we wanted their oil, then the easiest way to get it would be to cut a deal with Saddam. Attacking a country disrupts oil production, it does not facilitate it.
It is especially difficult to imagine Obama, of all people, going to war for oil. This is the man who lambastes the oil industry and its executives, and who refuses to open up large areas of the U.S. coast for offshore drilling. If he were a puppet of the oil industry, wouldn’t we have been drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by now?
The explanation that is consistent with the available facts is that Obama, like Dubya Bush, is the prisoner of leftist ideology, not that he is secretly controlled by the oil industry.
I would point out that Jeff W. did not merely say that material gain was one motive among others for the intervention or that it was a possible reason. He said that the war in Libya “is transparently an effort by Western governments and power elites to steal Kaddafi’s gold and bank accounts, and to gain access to Libya’s oil on the most favorable possible terms.” I’m amazed that he would state in such conclusory, definitive terms, an assertion which is doubtful at best.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 24, 2011 10:35 AM | Send