Tuesday, September 18, 2007

War, oil & Bush-bashers

There’s been a lot of MSM “news reporting” about former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's one-sentence claim in his new book that the Iraq war “is largely about oil.”

As you’d expect, Bush-bushing journalists immediately started saying, “See? We told you so. Bush went to war for oil.”

Well, as so often before, the Bush-bashers are wrong.

Jonah Goldberg explains in the LA Times [excerpt]:

The quoted phrase ran through the Sunday news shows and the blogosphere like a bad intestinal virus.

On CNN's "Late Edition," Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Burlingame) was asked if he agreed with Greenspan. "To a very large extent I agree with him, and I think it is very remarkable that it took Alan Greenspan all these many years and being out of office [to state] the obvious."

Well, that is very interesting. But first we should clear the air about something. Greenspan claims that the quote was taken out of context.

Greenspan called the Post -- Bob Woodward, no less -- to say that, in fact, he didn't think the White House was motivated by oil. Rather, he was. (emphasis added)

A Post story Monday explained that Greenspan had long favored Saddam Hussein's ouster because the Iraqi dictator was a threat to the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil passes every day.

Hussein could have sent the price of oil way past $100 a barrel, which would have inflicted chaos on the global economy.

In other words, Greenspan favored the war on the grounds that it would stabilize the flow of oil, even though that wasn't the war's political underpinning.

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," Greenspan told Woodward, "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential." (emphasis added)

So let's get back to Lantos, the California congressman who agreed with the misconstrued Greenspan that it was "obvious" we went to war for oil. What's funny -- though not really ha-ha funny -- is that Lantos voted for the war.

If it was so obviously a war for oil, why did he vote for it?
Now really, Jonah, did you have to ask that question?

Why mention Lantos at all?

Lantos didn’t really mean to hurt the President and cast America's actions in the worst possible light. He only wanted to gain a little political advantage for himself and his fellow Dems.

The New York Betray Us does that all the time. And didn't Senator John Kerry vote for the Iraq War before he voted against it? Or was it the other way around? Or was it just something like that?

Anyway, let’s get back to Greenspan and what he was really talking about:
Unless, of course, [Lantos] thinks it's hunky-dory to go to war because of oil -- though that didn't sound like what he was trying to say.
Now there you go again, Jonah.

Let’s this time really get back to your explanation:
As several other politicians and officials noted over the weekend, no White House briefer ever told Congress that this was a war for oil.

The debates in Congress didn't say this was a war for oil. Bush never gave a single speech saying this was a war for oil. (If oil was all Bush wanted, he hardly needed to go to war to get it.)
There’s more before Jonah closes with:
The last time Greenspan made a gaffe of sorts, his comment about Wall Street's "irrational exuberance" sent worldwide markets into a tizzy.

This gaffe is more ironic because it was so plain-spoken, but it also managed to call attention to a case of irrational exuberance -- among Bush-bashing war opponents.
You can read Jonah Goldberg’s entire column here.

You can read Bob Woodward’s WaPo story setting the record straight about what Greenspan said he really meant here.


Anonymous said...

Gee John, the press got something wrong, again. Not news but I always like Goldberg.

Anonymous said...

The premise "War for oil" is wrong on its face. Oil is a commodity and sold on a world market. The idea that America could just go to Iraq and grab the oil for itself is ridiculous. Oil is probably the most regulated and watched industry in the world. Sadaam was somewhat uniquely positioned to be able to sabotage the oil market. Removing him as a threat did not only benefit us but protected the whole industry. I am unabashedly pro-oil. Unlike oil's critics, I prefer a car to a horse drawn carriage.

Brant Jones

Anonymous said...

Do you think Greenspan was actually consulted? It sounded like it was a hypothetical.

If he wasn't consulted, then his opinion has about the same weight as mine - none at all.


gak said...

On this one, I'd have to agree with Greenspan. We went in on "intelligence" that turned out to be an outdated term paper from some kid, and now the administration is telling us this is a war on terrorism. The British marched as far as the oil fields. What do you think was the reason behind this. No other country wanted to go look for WMD's, only Bush.