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February 5, 2003 7:58 AM   Subscribe

U.S. admin using future shares of Iraqi oil to build anti-Iraq coalition. Nation building just doesn't get any better than this.
posted by magullo (53 comments total)

 
A highly 'rational' (machiavellian, that is) National Socialist realpolitick.

Sounds like a big 'ol "leveraged buyout" (LBO) to me...with a bunch of cruise missiles flying around, of course, and a few people blown up here and there....mostly there.
posted by troutfishing at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2003


The same Lugar guy on North Korea's decision to kick out inspectors and maybe build a bunch of nukes:

"We must not discount the horrific consequences to American, Korean, and perhaps Japanese lives resulting from a misunderstanding or miscalculation on the part of either side"

Just in case there is any misunderstandings on what drives the Iraq "situation".
posted by magullo at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2003


"...And when we butchered your sons, boys
When we butchered your sons
Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our bubble gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
And the name for our profits is democracy
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
we're the cops of the world"
- Phil Ochs
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2003


Can anyone find this story from a less odd source? (i.e. right now its coming from a US Senator to the Tehran Times to "Oil and Gas" industry news). Seems like if he said it, there would be a U.S. source.
posted by malphigian at 8:38 AM on February 5, 2003


I think it was also in the Baghdad Gazette . . .
posted by kcmoryan at 9:00 AM on February 5, 2003


Not quite the Bagdhad Gazette, but here's the Middle East Online.

The comment was reported by a spokesperson for Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

"The case he (Lugar) made is that the Russians and the French, if they want to have access to the oil operations or concessions or whatever afterward, they need to be involved in the effort to depose Saddam as well," spokesman said.

posted by vbfg at 9:11 AM on February 5, 2003


"access to the oil operations or concessions"

Even the concession stands? France will be blocked from selling crepes in Iraq if they don't join the coalition? This is hard ball.
posted by Outlawyr at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2003


Here's the Guardian reporting on the quote:

Richard Lugar, the hawkish chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggests reluctant Europeans risk losing out on oil contracts. 'The case he had made is that the Russians and the French, if they want to have a share in the oil operations or concessions or whatever afterward, they need to be involved in the effort to depose Saddam as well,' said Lugar's spokesman.

Some other quotes:

Washington is split along hawk-dove lines about the role of oil in a post-Saddam Iraq. Two sets of meetings sponsored by the State Department and Vice-President Dick Cheney's staff have been attended by representatives of ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhilips and Halliburton, the company that Cheney ran before his election.

While the State Department is mindful of cynical world opinion about US war aims, officials do not always stick to the script. Grant Aldonas, Under Secretary at the US Department of Commerce, said war 'would open up this spigot on Iraqi oil which certainly would have a profound effect in terms of the performance of the world economy for those countries that are manufacturers and oil consumers'.


Yeah, surrrrre. Oil has nothing to do with this stinking quagmire. Who will die? Who will thrive?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2003


According to a report in today's Tehran Times...

In other news:
Iraqi Daily is claiming that the UN inspectors are spys.

Also:

KCNA is reporting that the People Army of North Korea will smite the Imperialist Americans in a Glorious Victory.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2003


What's so appalling about this is not that the French and the Russians are being strongarmed, but that the Americans think that as soon as Saddam is deposed, they more or less own the oilfields. What happened to the newly-liberated Iraqis in this equation?
posted by Summer at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2003


carrying on where Steve_at left off..

In other news

CNN reports the American people support the glorious war on Iraq, which will bring riches, splendour, and make Americans feel good about themselves again.

Also:

Fox News reports that perhaps 10,000 Peace marchers, and a smaller number favoring the historic and glorious liberation of the Iraqi people gathered in Washington today.

Haha just joshin' ya. But you know you look pretty weak when you can only attack the paper and not the message.
posted by cell divide at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2003


What happened to the newly-liberated Iraqis in this equation?

Having being bought by oil companies, they say that:

"American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil"
posted by magullo at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2003


Richard Lugar said russia and france "must be ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in any US-led military intervention"

is a lot differnt than

Richard Lugar said russia and france "must be ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in any US-led military intervention" if they want a share of Iraqi oil.

where did the "if they want to a share of Iraqi oil" come from????
posted by tomplus2 at 9:49 AM on February 5, 2003


But you know you look pretty weak when you can only attack the paper and not the message.

I think I would trust The Onion before I trusted The Tehran Times... State run media, NPR aside, is not the most reliable, if you know what I mean...

All of that aside, Why should countries that bare no burden in the war, reap the oil concession from the to-be Iraqi government. In fact part of the reason that the French and Russian as so hesitant, is that they currently have massive oil concessions from the current Iraqi government. So oh my God, IT IS ALL ABOUT OIL! (For France and Russia)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2003


Lugar does not speak for Bush and ought not to go off on his own. Oil: we do not know what arrangements are to be made but if we seize the huge financial interests France has already in Iraq, we will be taken to some world court and sued etc...
And yes oil is a big part of the thing but then one need go back any number of years to see that oil (energy) has always been central to political considerations, and that China, Russia, the U.S. and Saudi were fully involved in central Asian and its resources.
on a selfihs note: who would you prefer to have command of all the oil in Iraq: Saddam? France? Russia? China?
posted by Postroad at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2003


Off topic, watching C-span this morning, when Collin Powel was introduced to speak at the United Nations he was introduced as Secretary of State of the USA, Mr. Collin Powell, then, your Excellency.

Is this the proper introduction for his position, your Excellency?

Sounded like he was a King with that intro.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2003


What is so crazy about that? France has a choice between Saddam and whatever the US creates after he is gone. Their choice will have consequences.

France's opposition to ousting Saddam is based in part on oil contracts, so why not hit them where it hurts? Let them know that there will be no freeloading on this one. If they want to side with Saddam, fine, all their contracts go the way of Saddam too.

It probably won't be just the US here either. I can't imagine the postwar regime being terribly friendly to the folks who tried to block the removal of Saddam.

So what is wrong with explaining this to the French, in a leak by a non-administration figure to an obscure foreign newspaper unlikely to get reprinted in the US?

Oh, that's right, Bush is bad and therefore anything he does or wants to do is bad too. I forgot.
posted by ednopantz at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2003


It's so funny. Yesterday, I heard the guy subbing for Limbaugh say that the reason France was against an invasion was because of its existing oil contracts.

So, let me get this straight. French foreign policy is all about oil, but U.S. foreign policy isn't?

Of course, it's a bit of a moot question, with "liberals" like Julie Burchill ready to go to bat for Cheney with delightful quotes like this:

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!

What a completely disgusting way to frame the issue. Let's see, my two choices are to "shock and awe" these people with a massive rain of bombs, or to give up central heating and go back to the Dark Ages.

Er, no. There are other options aside from beginning a bombing campaign that is sure to slaughter thousands of women and children. The position is morally bankrupt, and no amount of "realpolitik" icing can alter that fact.
posted by mediareport at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2003


...a bombing campaign that is sure to slaughter thousands of women and children.

And men. Let's drop the methods of the propagandist for the sake of discussion, and just call them people, please?
posted by holycola at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2003


on a selfihs note: who would you prefer to have command of all the oil in Iraq:

Try Iraq!

Duh! What was all this talk about "liberating" Iraq? Wouldn't a sovereign country have control of it's own resources? Shall we have China harvest our wheat?
posted by nofundy at 10:13 AM on February 5, 2003


[W]hy post about Iraq when it says on the submit page to reconsider posting about Iraq?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:55 AM PST on February 5
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:20 AM on February 5, 2003


France's opposition to ousting Saddam is based in part on oil contracts, so why not hit them where it hurts?

I'm sorry, I was confused about this. I was under the impression that we (the US) were about taking down evil doers. I didn't rightly understand that part of that crusade was to blackmail our allies into helping us, by obliterating their legal contracts as we obliterate an evil doer. Are you suggesting that anyone who makes an economic deal with an evil doer should expect to suffer for it?


Boy Howdy, is the US in trouble then ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:22 AM on February 5, 2003


France's opposition to ousting Saddam is based in part on oil contracts, so why not hit them where it hurts? Let them know that there will be no freeloading on this one. If they want to side with Saddam, fine, all their contracts go the way of Saddam too.

Which is, of course, not going to happen. The infrastructure of whatever government comes into place after the Iraq war will require the need to get as much funding as possible- and that means selling oil to whoever's offering the best deals. The only reason Iraq would openly reject a specific nation would be at the demands of the U.S.... and why should the U.S. try to control the government and regulation of Iraq's infrastructure? It's not about the oil, remember?

When did the idea of "concessions" of oil to the victorious armies become an issue here? I thought this was about preventing Saddam from becomming a nuclear threat and protecting "his own people" that he used U.S.-made weapons against, not who's the mst economically feasable to be in control of the oil fields... again... what's this all not about again?

OP: what nofundy said.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2003


Well, as soon as we install our puppet government we'll hand over the national resources to it!
posted by botono9 at 10:24 AM on February 5, 2003


Sounded like he was a King with that intro.

UN etiquette is funny like that: "Excellency" is proper form, like in the US the proper introduction for a congressman actually is "the Honorable Representative"

consider that in the UN there's all kinds of countries and national customs, a little extra pomposity is OK

side note: say what you want about his politics and his character, but Powell actually looks pretty dignified, in a younger, thinner James Earl Jones or older Denzel Washington kind of way. He could totally play the role of a King -- he's one of the very, very few present-day American politicians to look _that_ good
posted by matteo at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2003


Interesting how one-sided the view presented in this FPP is ... that the sole focus seems to be on oil as a motive for the US to oust Saddam - and virtually no attention is being paid to oil as a powerful motive for Russia and France to use their UN SC veto power to block military action. Both countries have extensive oil contracts already signed (some as recent as late 2002) - with Saddam Hussain - and stand to make billions if sanctions are lifted, and Hussain is still in power.

"In the last month, major oil companies in France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, China, and India have entered into oil deals with Hussain. Russia, the most important power that could speak out against the invasion, has been granted tremendous deals by the Iraqi government. LUKoil, the largest Russian oil company, has signed a multi-billion dollar oil production deal with Mr. Hussain, giving it a majority stake in West Qurna, a gigantic Iraqi field holding over 11 billion barrels of oil. "

Are large oil interests involved in the Iraq situation? Of course ... when that much money is involved, it will necessarily be a subtext to any discussions. But it is wrong to talk about oil only in terms of US motives, and completely ignore the fact that not only does oil play a role in almost every country's perspective, but that Saddam is very effectively using oil bribes to persuade Security Council members with veto power to block any effective military action on the part of the UN - i.e., the US and UK are being positioned as a foreign aggressors that have to act "unilaterally".

Do oil companies in the US want Saddam out? Will they convey their desire to the Administration? Of course. And oil companies in Russia and France are doing the exact same thing. So suddenly the extremely biased view in this FPP gains a bit of context.

It is not a matter of Lugar trying to engage in "nation building" by holding Russian and French access to Iraqi oil hostage, and attempting to buy their agreement with an invasion. Access to future Iraqi oil, and their agreement to veto a UN invasion has already been "bought" by Saddam Hussain. They both now have a huge upside if Saddam stays in power, and virtually no downside. The US is simply raising the stakes to parity.

This is hardball geopolitics at its most brutal, folks, but you are pretty freakin' naive if you believe only the US plays that game. In fact, up to now, Iraq, Russia, and France have played it better. A brutal dictator that tortures and gasses his citizens, and has lied to the UN for over a decade now, is still in power ... and France and Russia have both indicated their refusal to agree to any UN resolution to use force to oust him.

Don't even attempt to say the US is guilty of self-interested "nation-building", while everyone else is simply acting in the selfless interests of "peace". Don't even attempt to assert that the US is "acting against the will of the UN" if it invades without a Security Council resolution, and that it's only motive is oil, unless you also assert that the reason why it currently isn't possible to to get a SC resolution is because two members with veto power have been effectively bought off by contracts with Hussain for that very same oil.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:36 AM on February 5, 2003


I suppose that Your Excellency is better than Your Eminence

I would prefer Big Daddy-O myself
posted by badzen at 10:38 AM on February 5, 2003


Don't even attempt to assert that the US is "acting against the will of the UN" if it invades without a Security Council resolution, and that it's only motive is oil, unless you also assert that the reason why it currently isn't possible to to get a SC resolution is because two members with veto power have been effectively bought off by contracts with Hussain for that very same oil.

Okay, I agree. In that case, if the U.S. attacks against the whim of the UN security council, you're right in your logic that the U.S. just wants to wrest oil control away from Europe and I'll hold you and your comment to that. Thanks for finally seeing the light about this being about oil, Midas. God, and here I was thinking there were just diplomats out there that just didn't want lots and lots of innocent people to die a destabilize an entire continental region for decades.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:44 AM on February 5, 2003


Let's drop the methods of the propagandist for the sake of discussion, and just call them people, please?

Ok. "Defenseless civilians, including children, the sick and the elderly," works for me.
posted by mediareport at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2003


Don't even attempt to say the US is guilty of self-interested "nation-building",

If I try to say that, what are you gonna do? Preemptively strike me then steal my wallet?
posted by matteo at 11:01 AM on February 5, 2003


no, just the gas in your car.... It is all about oil!!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:05 AM on February 5, 2003


Preemptively strike me then steal my wallet?

No, no, no. "Liberate" you and then "rebuild" your wallet. You know, like we did in Afghanistan.
posted by mediareport at 11:06 AM on February 5, 2003


So it is all about the oil for the US! Big surprise! It isn't about the oil for nations like Germany, which is why it can stand against a war without having to trade in any vital ressources against moral standards (which it doesn't have in the first place). No surprise, either...
The only really funny and new thing here is that these kinds of typical "hardball geopolitics at its most brutal" are being discussed so openly, which, even funnier, seems like "blackmailing" to some people. As long as noone is really enforcing any kind of law here, you cannot really call it blackmailing. It's just the natural course of things in which thousands (up to millions) die for unjust causes.

"Meh"...
posted by zerofoks at 11:31 AM on February 5, 2003


Okay, I agree. In that case, if the U.S. attacks against the whim of the UN security council, you're right in your logic that the U.S. just wants to wrest oil control away from Europe and I'll hold you and your comment to that. Thanks for finally seeing the light about this being about oil, Midas. God, and here I was thinking there were just diplomats out there that just didn't want lots and lots of innocent people to die a destabilize an entire continental region for decades.

You can "hold me" to any comment I make, but "holding me" to a distorted paraphrase of what I said won't work. In fact, the evidence is that the Bush Administration only began talking about forceful removal of Saddam after 9/11 ... when it suddenly became clear to most Americans that ignoring middle-eastern dictatorships that call the US "the Great Satan", and have the means and desire to export terror, is no longer possible.

However, several years ago, Russia, France, and China were not only ignoring Saddam's growing attempts to ignore the UN (remember, he got away with kicking inspectors out altogether), but were pushing to cut deals to have sanctions lifted completely (a required step to have their multi-billion dollar oil contracts start delivering cash flow).

In other words, as I said, oil must necessarily be involved as a sub-text to the situation. It cannot be ignored - because Saddam has been using it for some time now to make certain the Security Council will always split its vote. But the primary motive of the US appears to be security, and the incident that caused it to force the issue was 9/11, where it became crystal clear how powerful a threat was posed when a loose affiliation of shadowy terrorist groups was backed by the sort of state-sponsored support necessary to build WMD.

The primary motive for frustrating Security Council unanimity on the part of France and Russia, however, seems to be almost purely "all about oil" ... and appears to be a motive powerful enough to cause them to ignore not only the human rights abuses of one of the single most brutally oppressive regimes in recent history, but also the threat Saddam poses to the current world.

If you were thinking that "there were just diplomats out there that just didn't want lots and lots of innocent people to die", then I'd suggest you had better try to "see the light".

And if you want to, you'd better stop trying to simplify complex global situations into simplistic characterizations. In any situation like this there are dozens of different motives involved, and what diplomats say at public meetings are words meant for their own constituencies - and often have little relation the the genuine motives for UN votes. However, usually primary and secondary motives can be discerned. In this instance, because this is Iraq, oil will always be in the equation somewhere ... but the timing of the US position, as compared to the perspectives of Russia and France, seem to indicate that for the US, post 9/11 security is the primary motive, and oil secondary - because the US position on Iraq changed dramatically after 9/11. However in the case of France and Russia, oil appears to be the primary motive, as they are not simply responding to this situation, but rather are maintaining a position they held consistently prior to 9/11.

What really strikes me as bizarre, however, is the attempts by France, Russia, and folks like you to talk about "lots and lots of innocent people dying", and try to make the case that opposition comes from caring so much about the Iraqi people ... while putting the mother of all blinders on about what it is like for those people to live under Hussain's totalitarian government.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2003


If I try to say that, what are you gonna do? Preemptively strike me then steal my wallet?

The full quote is:

"Don't even attempt to say the US is guilty of self-interested "nation-building", while everyone else is simply acting in the selfless interests of "peace".

And no, I won't preemptively strike you ... I'll merely expose it as the bullshit it is.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:41 AM on February 5, 2003


while everyone else is simply acting in the selfless interests of "peace".

If by "everyone else" you mean the current goverments of Germany and France, the answer is obviously no, of course energy policy considerations are _very_ important for every sane politician worldwide, not only for the Texas boys (it's a little more complicated than that, of course, you have to consider among many things Schroeder's campaign positions and Fischer's background, not to mention Chirac's troubles and his gvt energy links)
By "everyone else", unfortunately, many of us mean literally, everyone else, i.e. regular people all over the world who are worried of a potentially devastating war in the middle of Mesopotamia, and of a very unclear political future for Iraq after the occupation ends (Sunni vs Shia and all that other nasty stuff very hard to reduce to Republican National Commitee soundbites), and of those increasingly unruly former USA cold war - era employees (Osama, Saddam, etc)
posted by matteo at 12:03 PM on February 5, 2003


The U.S. is *not* playing by the same oil rules, as it is ready to start a *war*, which everyone else is not. War is generally to be avoided, if you ask the civilians like you and me who happen to live nearby, and who the goverment*s* should serve.

Call me naive, but the real problem with many Americans is that they like democracy as long as they are not the underdog. This is understandable, but it is also highly embarrassing how some folks carry it to absurd extremes - i.e. "unsigning" international treaties, getting the supreme court to "crown" you, etc.

Here is another one: Saddam is a badass ... but so is the U.S.'s pal mr. Musharraf from Pakistan, with insecure nukes that de-stabilize his region and very possibly even linked - at least through members of his government - to the 9-11 attack. But alas, like North Korea, nothing to gain by stirring up dust there.

Any other reasons to kill a bunch of folks, other than to follow the "natural course of things"? If not and since a war seems inevitable anyway, what are the odds for Saddam going the way of Osama vs. the way of Noriega?
posted by magullo at 12:07 PM on February 5, 2003


Okay, the US has already said that it will make every effort to defend oil fields and extraction structures from the destruction that Satan Saddam has promised WHEN we invade. We're taking the high ground here and claiming that its about security and not about the oil. All given, all well and good.

How about a little diplomacy? No, I'm not talking about telling Saddam to stand down under threat of being told that again. I'm talking about a material promise to those with signed interest in Iraqi oil that we will defend and honor those interests for the good of the world union, and for the good of the Iraqi people. I know, I know, that might show a silly benevolent streak to America that we don't want interpreted as weakness. After all, why bother dealing for support when you can just take what you want by force? Simplistic thinking like actually honoring and garnering support from other sovereign nations denies the obvious necessity of Geopolitical hardball (glad you think this is a fucking game), and isn't the most expedient way to get what we want. We shouldn't waste the opportunity to fight this dread evil, nor should we waste the opportunity to tell our allies that they are either with us or against us, and if against us, we will take what is theirs. squandering that opportunity isn't the way that Geopolitical Hardball allstars behave. Empires aren't built by agreement, they're built by forcing disagreement against the strongest team, and then, after the smackdown homerun, telling folk that they should have joined up when they had the chance. Stupid French, stupid Russians, don't they see that in the "complexities" of global economy the US is only trying to help them? Security from the menace of Saddam Hussein should be worth the loss of billions of dollars of oil, shouldn't it?

Sorry Midas. This isn't complex enough that you understand it and the rest of us don't. Gulf War 1 was such a sterling success because of international agreement and unified desire for Kuwaiti oil. Telling our "partners" that they support our takeover of deals they have made, of what they need to have, "or else" is a BS powerplay. Its Imperialism, plain and simple.

(cue cheerleaders) We big! We bad! We gonna kick his ass!
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:45 PM on February 5, 2003


What really strikes me as bizarre, however, is the attempts by France, Russia, and folks like you to talk about "lots and lots of innocent people dying", and try to make the case that opposition comes from caring so much about the Iraqi people ... while putting the mother of all blinders on about what it is like for those people to live under Hussain's totalitarian government.

meanwhile, folks like you will cover your eyes to projected casualties and preach about how saddam is such a demi-hitler when you don't really care either way, you just want to justify The War anyway you can.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:54 PM on February 5, 2003


By the way, it isn't only those people people that we in the know call "leftists" (ohh I feel so icky having said it) who oppose the coming war. I'm a pugilistic centrist, and I think that Iraq-Ataq is one of the kingshit stupidest ideas in a long history of stupid human ideas. So let's agree to chill on the marginalizing language, okay? As if/Or not.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2003


US position on Iraq changed dramatically after 9/11

It did? Is that why the plans for an invasion of Iraq were on the table four years ago? Is that why Rumsfeld's first reaction on Sept. 11, 2001 was "Link Iraq to this, pronto!"

I call bullshit on that statement, MidasMulligan. Oil was always this administration's primary goal in Iraq. The obvious strategy of convincing U.S. citizens that some or most of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis (jesus, are people easily swayed by misleading, heavily focus-grouped political messages) was a strategy driven by pure energy politics, not the reality of a direct security threat to the U.S.

At least if you believe some in the CIA, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2003


In fact, the evidence is that the Bush Administration only began talking about forceful removal of Saddam after 9/11

Actually... Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, and Richard Perle began talking about the forceful removal of Saddam Hussein in 1998. Well, to be truthful, I doubt they began talking about it then (probably more of a continuing discussion), but it certainly did not begin after 9/11.
posted by dogmatic at 1:57 PM on February 5, 2003


I don't know if this is true, but I hope it is. I also hope there's a full airing of the sleazy business and governmental connections between Paris and Iraq and Berlin and Iraq.

Again, the French can go to hell.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:09 PM on February 5, 2003


isn't alec baldwin french? can't be a coincidence.
posted by mcsweetie at 2:48 PM on February 5, 2003


Yeah! the french can go to hell! Nuke 'em all and let God sort out the dead...... And the Germans...and the Iranians...and the North Koreans...and the Chinese...and the Pakistanis....and the Indians, too....and the Russians...and the Swiss...and the South Africans...and the Egyptians...and.....and....did i say that?...i didn't mean any of it, really! sorry about all those dead people...
posted by troutfishing at 8:49 PM on February 5, 2003


Don't even attempt to say the US is guilty of self-interested "nation-building", while everyone else is simply acting in the selfless interests of "peace".

I think I understand the strategy, and the idea of raising stakes to parity, and I can buy into it to some extent.

The thing is... I thought we were the good guys, the ones who take the high road.

I can't see why the realpolitik hardball strategy would be any more than marginally more effective than guaranteeing to France and Russia that their contracts will be honored by subsequently established governments. In other words, if their opposition is about oil, fine then: remove it as an issue. At that point, all other things being equal, wouldn't it make sense for France and Russia to support the ousting of Saddam for a whole host of other reasons?

The above is only possible, of course, if we're acting for the reasons we claim to be acting: it's about security, not about oil (or better yet, it's about freedom, not about oil). If it is about oil for us, however, then we can't make a promise like that, and what's more, our rhetoric about America being different becomes really pretty empty. Even if our gas tanks, stomachs, and wallets are full.
posted by namespan at 11:19 PM on February 5, 2003


But it is wrong to talk about oil only in terms of US motives

True. France and Russia are as guilty as anyone of hypocritical dealings in the Middle East concerning oil and arms deals.

However, I'd have thought the most sensible 'hard ball' strategy would be to side with the US, seeming as they made it pretty clear early on this war was going to happen no matter what. I'm sure that a major reason the UK's in there.
posted by Summer at 4:19 AM on February 6, 2003


At that point, all other things being equal, wouldn't it make sense for France and Russia to support the ousting of Saddam for a whole host of other reasons?

Understandibly, you underestimate the French view of themselves. They really fancy themselves co-equal with the United States, and their position on Iraq supports this dellusion. What's fundamental for the French is not so much their position on Iraq as the fact their position is different from Washington. It's like the tendancy of small children to say "No" to everything for the sake of attention. Do semi-senile elderly people also "No" a lot for the sake of attention? That's the better analogy to the French.

As for the Russians, I give them a pass. And, for all we know, they're actually being engaged by Washington as the "good cop."

By the way, excellent piece in today's WSJ (op-ed page) by C. Hitchens on France.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:00 AM on February 6, 2003


Wow. Hitch on WSJ. His politics have 'migrated' a bit lately. Apart from ceaselessly hounding poor "the illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional take a little bit longer" Henry Kissinger (a worthy project, in my opinion) and flaying Mother Teresa (not sure what I think about that) Hitchens might almost be called a conservative...or a neo liberal?

Paris - Is it only the French and Germans who are acting like children?
posted by troutfishing at 7:11 AM on February 6, 2003


First, I have said the Germans get a pass on this one; on the idea of liberating a country; and they will be entitled to that card for at least another 50 years.

Is it only the French? In the sense that there are only five Permanent Members of the UN Security Counsel, only three of which can be considered having fairly long-term human rights traditions, and the UK and the US are the other two, the answer is yes. It's one thing to sit on the sidelines; quite another to actively campaign against something.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:41 AM on February 6, 2003


(Although, in fairness, I suppose calling for "more time for more inspectors" could be considered "sitting on the sidelines," provided the French don't veto an American resolution for war. But it doesn't feel like that from here.)
posted by ParisParamus at 7:46 AM on February 6, 2003


I couldn't find the piece PP is refering to (I guess not all WSJ op-eds are on OpinionJournal), but here's a recent piece by Hitchens that gives you a good idea of what some of his politics are these days. I agree with every major point he makes here.
posted by homunculus at 9:16 AM on February 6, 2003


The extent of France's bloodymindedness is astounding.
posted by Summer at 9:51 AM on February 6, 2003


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