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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Ongoing War Over Oil

It's interesting to note different people taking on the "No Blood for Oil" argument. In last Saturday's Guardian, Julie Burchill shouts (via William Sjostrom):

So what if it is about oil, in part? Are you prepared to give up your car and central heating and go back to the Dark Ages? If not, don't be such a hypocrite. The fact is that this war is about freedom, justice - and oil. It's called multitasking. Get used to it!


Zirman Ahmed, citing opportunity cost, says:

If the US took over Iraq's oil fields and then gave itself the oil for free, it would bear the opportunity cost of selling the oil to the world markets. Given that oil is a commodity product, this price would be exactly what the US would have had to pay for it anyway, whether it was in Iraq or not.


In the New Yorker James Surowiecki takes on the argument from a different angle:

Americans, who usually understand that economic self-interest tends to trump ideology, have assumed that in the Middle East the opposite holds true, even as various despots and mullahs have kept pumping oil regardless of what we do to them or what they think of us. U.S. policymakers still seem to be afraid of the oil weapon, seeing it as a reason for acting with caution (when it comes to pushing for change in Saudi Arabia) or aggression (when it comes to pushing for change in Iraq). By allowing this fear to shape our policy, we've given oil a power it shouldn't have.


Whichever way you look at it, the argument that the coming war is about oil is spurious, at best.