Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not Only Blood for Oil

Paul Rosenberg articulates some of the reasons why, while initially inspired by him, I am no longer a big Obama fan:
On Dec 04, Chris Bowers wrote a post, ”The Two Obamas and Me, Part One” which contrasted the principle-driven Obama who first inspired tremendous netroots support with the compromise-driven Obama who now seems intent on demonizing the very people who helped get him his start. One example Chris cited of the second Obama was this:
In town-hall meetings, when those who opposed the war get shrill, Obama makes a point of noting that while he, too, opposed the war, he's "not one of those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil."
Chis followed up:
Did anyone with any power every say that? Did any leading Democrats ever say that? Did any progressive or liberal of any public stature ever say that? If they did, I'd love to see the quote.

This is larger context for Obama’s remark dismissing “those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil.” As Chris said, who are those people? I’ve gone to anti-war demonstrations, I’ve attended weekly peace vigils. I’ve talked with people carrying “No Blood For Oil” signs. Even I haven’t met anyone who “believes Bush went in only for the oil.” The point of those signs is not to claim that this was Bush’s only reason—that would be absurd. The signs are meant to point out a reason that the official discussion routinely ignores, and refuses to discuss, except to ridicule—just the way Obama did.

Of course, at a basic level, everyone knows that Iraq is about oil. There are only two reasons we originally got involved in that part of the world: Oil and to deny the Soviets a warm-water port. Israel only became important as a result of those first two reasons. Our oil obsession caused us to overthrow the Mossadegh regime in Iran in 1953—a promising democracy that we would give our eye teeth to have back today, at least, if we had any sense. Which, of course, we don’t. In Afghanistan, our anti-Soviet obsession caused us to team up with the most extremist elements of the Mujahadeen, and partner with bin Laden. The problems we face today are almost entirely of our own making—the result of narrow, short-sighted, knee-jerk responses to situations that were far less threatening to us than the situations we face today, situations our reactive policies have created.

But if oil is half the reason we’re in the Middle East to begin with, oil also plays a very specific role in this very specific war. We had both the President and Vice-President from the oil industry. We had all manner of other oil company connections, we had a huge imbalance in financial support for the GOP from the oil industry vs. alternative energy, we had the super-secret Cheney energy taskforce with maps of Iraq’s oil fields, we had promises that Iraq’s oil revenue would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction—the connections go on and on and on and on. To not talk about any of them is of necessity to not talk about the real reasons, true context, and political alignments that lead us into this war. And this, in turn, leads us to embrace a series of fairy tales, instead. First WMDs and Iraq’s mythical involvement in 9/11, then the absurd notion that Bush not only cares about democracy, but that that’s the reason we invaded Iraq in the first place—a reason that Bush himself strenuously opposed, until it was forced on him by the Iraqi people.

By ridiculing and misrepresenting those who refuse to ignore the link between oil and war—and war and death—Obama has paid his dues to join the Washington insider’s club. And from that perch, he now parades—much like John McCain—as a maverick outsider.


So where’s Obama in all this? One thing’s for sure—he’s not front and center, denouncing the ISG for trying to do an end-run around the will of the American people. In fact, quite the opposite: he’s cheering it on...selectively, though without saying so.

While Bush is busy ignoring the ISG by picking and choosing which recommendations he will reject out of hand, Obama’s busy doing the same: ignoring the icky blood-for-oil provisions that he above all does not want to talk about, Obama said:
“In presenting a realistic view of how far the situation has deteriorated, the report avoids the partisan rhetoric that has characterized too much of this debate and offers a unique chance to forge a bipartisan consensus about how to move forward in Iraq.”
In other words, ignoring the blood-for-oil dimension of the war is absolutely crucial for maintaining the facade that what’s “bipartisan” in Versailles bears any resemblance at all to what’s non-partisan majoritarian in America. But Obama can’t actually say he’s ignoring the blood-for-oil aspect. That wouldn’t be ignoring it at all.

In the end, ironically, we discover that George Bush really is more honest and forthright. He rejects certain parts of the ISG, and he comes right out and says it. Obama—at least so far—has not been so honest. He hasn’t looked at the actual recommendations, and said, “Sure, blood for oil, fine with me!” But he hasn’t said he’s against it either.

After all, he’s never been one of those cynics. You know what I’m talking about. The ones who believe their own eyes.


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