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Sunday, March 30, 2003

From a Different Perspective . . .

David Warsh points out how the current war could be about oil after all:

Perhaps the Gulf Wars are best understood as being antitrust policy for oil — industrial reorganization by force in the aftermath of successful monetary stabilization.

While discussing political instability in the Middle East, and how the Bush administration sees oil as adding to that instability, Warsh refers to Amity Shlaes, who last week in the Financial Times (subscribers only) rebutted Bush and Powell on the ownership of Iraqi oil:

[B]elonging to the people tends to translate into belonging to the government. And the assumption that government-controlled oil can benefit the Iraqis is tricky. Indeed, one can argue that state ownership of oil has cursed Iraq. And that, come reconstruction time, the single most important thing that the US and Britain can do to facilitate stability is to privatise Iraq's reserves - even if that means cutting deserving Kurdish leaders out of the bounty. And even if it means being accused of creating a "Texas on the Tigris".

Many commenters, Lynne Keisling first and foremost, have taken pains to point out how the war cannot be about oil. Warsh does not disprove those economic arguments--there is still limited real value in plundering Iraqi oil. The publicly-owned Iraqi oil endowment finances Saddam's exploits, and to that extent the protestors are right--this war is about oil.