My friend Tempus got me thinking about the war in Iraq and John Kerry with this entry, which, admittedly, is anti-liberal (understandable, since he’s conservative) and has a few perceptions that I decided to respond to directly with him. Unfortunately, he had to go to bed, so this is turned into a blog entry. I suggest reading the post before reading on.
The War in Iraq
First: we are not in Iraq to cut oil prices. The United States has nothing to do with oil prices. We’re in Iraq because whoever controls the flow of oil controls the world. Think Frank Herbert’s Dune: spice was the commodity in the universe, and only one planet, Arrakis, had the Spice. Whoever controlled Arrakis controlled the spice, and in turn, controlled the universe. Oil is to the nations of the Earth what the Spice is to Herbert’s universe.
The entity that sets oil prices is OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which recently set oil prices at $50 a barrel, which is, I believe, the highest it’s been in the last decade or so (if not ever). The United States has no presence in OPEC — it is not a member. The eleven members that make up OPEC are Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Coincidentally, the U.S. has, since the 1970s, had conflicts in or intervened somehow in the affairs of Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (Persian Gulf War), and Iran. It’s probably had dealings with the others too, but these countries are the more well-known. Is it a coincidence that it’s had some form of influence over OPEC countries? Is it a coincidence that it’s in Iraq, which, out of all those countries, probably has the most oil available? Nope. Those eleven countries weild a lot of power over the rest of the world — or would without outside influences such as the United States, Great Britain, France, and other European countries.
Entire economies are based on oil — the United States alone is very oil-dependent for the efficient operation of its transportation fleet, as well as power supplies and various consumer products. Oil has a very wide reach in the United States; it also has a very wide reach in Europe and every single developing country in the world. Oil makes the world go around; without oil, there is no gasoline. Without gasoline, there is no transportation that doesn’t take months to travel from place to place (think steamer ships). Because oil is such a valuable resource and because it drives the economies of the world, whoever controls either the price of oil or the supply of oil (preferably both) controls the world. Shut down oil supplies or raise oil prices high enough, the world comes to a halt (the drive for alternative energy alternatives notwithstanding). It’s basic economics: if something is in high demand and the price is set too high, then demand for it will drop until the price of that commodity drops.
The logical thing to do, then, if you’re a major oil-consuming economy on the scale of the United States (which is probably the biggest user of oil anywhere), is to try and gain a controlling interest in how oil flows. To draw another parallel from Dune, the houses of Herbert’s universe fought over control of Arrakis because they knew that having control over that resource would give them great power. The United States was in Cambodia in the early 1970s, Kuwait during the early 1990s as part of the Persian Gulf War against Iraq, Iraq in modern day, Libya in the mid-1990s, and is extremely friendly with the government of Saudi Arabia, which is a pro-U.S. government. The United States has, since 1970 (and, actually, earlier) been setting the stage for control over the world’s oil supplies by either fighting wars on the soil of OPEC countries in support of their sovereign rights or by establishing friendly relationships with the governments of those countries.
The end conclusion, therefore, is that the United States, in addition to assisting in world politics (which was really just a minor side perk), has been slowly establishing relationships with OPEC countries. This led to the invasion of Iraq, which is now essentially a United States protectorate alongside Afghanistan. We cannot withdraw from Afghanistan because doing so would collapse the democracy we have set up there; the same will be true for Iraq.
As a side note, England has been paying well over $5/gallon for gas for at least the last decade. This isn’t anything new in the world. The only reason we’re making such a big deal out of it is because the United States isn’t used to seeing such high oil prices; we’ve been trained that low oil prices are a given. Every other country in the world can only look at our reaction to rising national oil prices as the whining of a spoiled newborn — coincidentally, a very good image of what we actually are, since we haven’t been along quite as long as, say, England or Egypt, or anything in the Middle East.
Another side note: elections in a country mean nothing when those in power support the U.S. agenda and are, in fact, puppet regimes of the United States — something that the current Iraqi government has rightly been accused of. We can hold “free democratic elections” until we die of old age; none of it does any good so long as those elected support the U.S. oil agenda.
Kerry: Presidential Politics
pan·der (from dictionary.com)
intr.v. pan·dered, pan·der·ing, pan·ders
1. To act as a go-between or liaison in sexual intrigues; function as a procurer.
2. To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses: “He refused to pander to nostalgia and escapism” (New York Times).
I contend that Kerry is not, as he has stated in the popular media and as others have labelled him, anti-war. That image has never truly, earnestly been perpetuated until recently. Kerry is, in fact, a pro-war Presidential candidate who voted for the war and for war funding. This fact has been obscured in media coverage since he began running. He has been correct when he states that Iraq is the new Vietnam of this century, but I don’t believe that this is a stance he himself supports.
Let me be careful to define the line between pandering and flip-flopping, since both of these phrases have been applied to Kerry. As I refer to flip-flopping here, I refer to someone who says one thing one minute and another thing another minute without taking into account audience, that is, without considering who they’re talking to or who will hear the statement. When I refer to pandering, I refer to someone who, in the literal definition of the word, uses the desires of others to exploit their weaknesses. It’s a well-known tactic in American political life that if you want to get what you want, you have to side with the majority in any situation. Thus, a panderer in this context is someone who says one thing one minute and another thing another minute while considering the audience they are addressing.
Kerry is a very smart man, which is ironic, considering that he has been portrayed, in some circles, as being very stupid. This is precisely because he’s a panderer. Kerry paints the image that he is flip-flopping on the issues, but as I’ve defined the term flip-flopping above, that would imply that Kerry has absolutely no regard for the audience that he is speaking to. In running for the Office of the President, one needs to possess just a smidge more intellect than to simply spout a stance without knowing how that stance will be interpreted or regarded. Even Bush — who, in my opinion, is unfit for office — was smart enough to do this when he ran for election. Kerry is much smarter in that, while he’s sticking to a pro-war position, he is catering to the opinions of the American public and verbalizing an anti-war stance. In other words, he’s a panderer. He can safely say that he’s anti-war because this serves his interests in getting elected President. The sad thing is, this is probably working in his favor.
Every statement Kerry has made has consistently changed to meet the current political viewpoint of the majority of the population of the United States. To people who would argue with me over the finer points of whether Kerry is flip-flopping or pandering, I say that the distinction between these two make little difference if you accept that both actions are inherently bad. Neither of these traits are things you want to see in a Presidential candidate. Kerry comes across as having no convictions because he’s using the pulse of the United States population to temper his convictions to whatever seems like it’ll get him elected at the moment. Kerry will get nailed on it, and, in fact, is getting nailed on it. The problem is that people probably won’t realize what’s really going on until after the elections.
If Bush wins, it’s pretty much a given that things will continue the way they are now. If Kerry wins, however, we should also expect more of the same. If Kerry wins, regardless of what he says now, he will likely continue the War on Terrorism (the very title is ridiculous, but that’s for another post), taking the stance that there’s no way we can easily back out with the amount of military might invested in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will continue the drive for U.S. imperialism and control. It’s not that Kerry doesn’t have convictions; it is simply that his convictions are the exact opposite of what he’s been saying to date. He does, in fact, stick to his convictions; it’s unfortunate that he’s lying about what those convictions really are. While, granted, those who are pro-war can become anti-war (there are thousands of such cases), I don’t believe that this has happened with Kerry.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt the need to speak out on these two things and clarify what I’ve been thinking about within the last few months.