There is an out-of-the-mainstream, unserious reason, however, that does make sense and can't be dismissed so easily.
The not-obviously-wrong reason for our troops to have invaded and continue to remain in Iraq is to secure access to the sea of oil on which it sits. It's the only calculation that, despite the acknowledged horrible costs, might be in our nation's interests. From a perverted morality, it might seem that the President's "constitutionally mandated job is to Protect Americans" (italicized and bolded like a super-ability), and that part of that job entails protecting their way of life, since that is uniquely American. Sean Hannity says it all the time: "don't change my lifestyle." Like everything else in life, there's no way we Americans are going to buckle down and accept some pain until the problem stares us in the face, and by then it will simply be too late. Therefore, we need to make sure we can get our hands on enough fuel to get us over the rough patches of the transition off of petroleum. And as long as we've got the boots on the ground, let's dispense with this "market price" crap when the crude hits the fan.
Until now, no one in the mainstream, non-partisan credibility club had made the case forcefully. Now we hear it straight from the Greenspan himself:
Iraq War and Oil
In another potential embarrassment for Bush and the Republicans, Greenspan asserted that the need for secure oil supplies from the Middle East was the true rationale for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
"I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil,'' Greenspan wrote in a chapter titled "The Long-Term Energy Squeeze.''
Wow. It's sooooo hard to be Alan Greenspan! That's the sort of insight that just isn't available to us peons in the trenches!
Reading this makes me see a little movie of my head exploding when I think of people I argue with refusing to acknowledge that the party line of we're spreading freedom might not be the real reason behind our military adventurism.
Incidentally, Global Warming also helps advance our Nation's goals. By inundating the coastal lowlands of the world and creating hundreds of millions of refugees, we'll create so much chaos that no one will be able to spare the forces to contest our control of Iraq militarily, thereby strengthening our hold on the transition fuel we need.
No one could challenge us except for a nuclear-armed Iran. Therefore, we must bomb Iran during Bush's Presidency because no lily-livered Democrat sissyman ever will, and probably not even a Republican! It's Bush's duty to do the "hard work" of being President, and that means bombing the people others don't have the heavenly-mandated stones to bomb.
I'm sure people that think this way, like our friend Fred Kagan here on the right, author of the Surge policy in Iraq, tell themselves that this absolute perversion of morality is "coldly logical" when you put the interests of America alone above those of others. They're being the testosterone-pumping, true-American-Grit Keyboard Warriors they need to be for some reason. I wonder what that might be?
Maybe his brother, and fellow svelte war-monger, Robert Kagan might be able to shed some light on the motivations?
Here I offer a possible explanation, which, just like the Iraq-War-For-Oil meme, is decidedly out of the mainstream, and yet not-obviously-wrong.
Norman Podhoretz, the father of Neoconservatism, wrote this, and it is telling:
To me, at the age of twelve, it seemed very clear that Negores were better off than Jews -- indeed, than all whites. . . . [I]n my world it was the whites, the Italians and Jews, who feared the Negroes, not the other way around. The Negroes were tougher than we were, more ruthless, and on the whole were better athletes. . . . I was still afraid of Negroes. And I still hated them with all my heart. . . .The conclusions are embarrassing, yet obvious. These men have been made to feel weak their entire lives, and they're reacting the way they can - a macho foreign policy. It's so embarrassing, in fact, that it's deemed impolite to mention the flabby nerdiness of our nation's War-proponents, just like Mr Greenspan's statement on the impossibility of commenting on the motivation for the Iraq War.
The orphanage across the street is torn down, a city housing project begins to rise in its place, and on the marvelous vacant lot next to the old orphanage they are building a playground. . . . A week later, some us are swatting flies on the playground's inadequate little ball field. A gang of Negro kids, pretty much our own age, enter from the other side and order us out of the park. We refuse, proudly and indignantly, with superb masculine fervor. There is a fight, they win, and we retreat, half whimpering, half with bravado. My first nauseating experience of cowardice. . .
Gradually we abandon the place and use the streets instead. The streets are safer, though we do not admit this to ourselves. We are not, after all, sissies -- the most dreaded epithet of an American boyhood. . . . .
That day in school the teacher had asked a surly Negro boy named Quentin a question he was unable to answer. As usual I had waved my arm eagerly . . . and, the right answer bursting from my lips, I was held up lovingly by the teacher as an example to the class. I had seen Quentin's face -- a very dark, very cruel, very Oriental-looking face -- harden, and there had been enough threat in his eyes to make me run all the way home for fear that he might catch me outside. . . .
For me as a child the life lived on the other side of the playground and down the block on Ralph Avenue seemed the very embodiment of the values of the street -- free, independent, reckless, brave, masculine, erotic.. . .
The hatred I still feel for Negroes is the hardest of all the old feelings to face or admit, and it is the most hidden and the most overlarded by the conscious attitudes into which I have succeeded in willing myself. It no longer has, as for me it once did, any cause or justification (except, perhaps that I am constantly being denied my right to an honest expression of the things I earned the right as a child to feel). How, then, do I know that this hatred has never entirely disappeared? I know it from the insane rage that can stir in me at the thought of Negro anti-Semitism; I know it from the disgusting prurience that can stir in me at the sight of a mixed couple; and I know it from the violence that can stir in my whenever I encounter that special brand of paranoid touchiness to which many Negroes are prone. . . .
There were plenty of bad boys among the whites -- this was, after all, a neighborhood with a long tradition of crime as a career open to aspiring talents -- but the Negroes were really bad, bad in a way that beckoned to one, and made one feel inadequate.
Norman's son, J-Pod, is just as much of a war-monger as his Father and has raised my ire before. The picture below is one he had associated with his account at The Corner, the National Review's hideous blog.
Last year I disqualified him from further comment on matters of substance because he so badly misunderstands the nature of the Global Counterinsurgency we are fighting. He lamented that we couldn't win this war because we were unwilling to be as ruthless as we were in World War II, despite the fact that we are now fighting disorganized forces that do not seek to control territory. Demonstrably, Total War tactics cannot be victorious against insurgencies - just ask the Soviets about their experience brutally occupying Afghanistan. "Rubblization," I believe, was the name of their strategy. J-Pod went so far as to advocate a flavor of genocide, saying:
What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?Hearts and minds, eh? It's hard to be greeted as liberators when you're killing hundreds of thousands of their 18-35's.
I wonder, do you think J-Pod might have some of the same motivations as our friends the Kagans?
Glenn Greenwald offers elaboration here.