Sunday, June 05, 2005

Why Iraq?

I will share something with you that will be uncomfortable. People often talk of the nature of the war in Iraq, how it began and the lies that precipitated it. We often talk of the utter and complete disregard for the Constitution in the waging of the war (i.e. no Congressional declaration of war).

None of this answers the real question as to why. Simple answers from the left claim it is all for oil. This is infinitely too simple and obviously born of a strategy on the left to appeal to their constituency. They needed a simple cause to rally against.

We paleo-conservatives also oppose the war but our articulation of our justifications carries little weight in the world of ideas. The fact is people just do not care that Bush violated the Constitution by waging war without a declaration. The Constitution is violated all the time in order to enact various programs that fit the popular desire. People also care little that all of the original justifications have proven to be false. There was no direct linkage between the terrorist and Iraq and Iraq had no real weapons of mass destruction. These are facts, we know them, others know them, but the general population does not care about these "trivialities" and "technicalities"

I believe it is time that we examine what the Republican Party has really become and what their real goals are if we are o articulate our objections completely. When it comes right down to it, there are two very different world views at work on the right.

First a word about the millions of supporters in the "Religious Right" that are the true the enablers of neo-conservative foreign policy. They have a world-view of their own that is much simpler that the complicated puzzle that the neo-con sees. To the religious right the US and Israel reign supreme in all foreign policy decisions. Any action of the US that supports Israel is a good policy in the Fundamentalist viewpoint. This is obviously an oversimplification. Fundamentalist are hardcore patriots that love the United States and fervently believe that the US has a God given role in the defense of the man-made nation-state of Israel. Their zeal toward the latter makes them the perfect supporters of neo-conservatives.


The world as envisioned by the neo-conservative is much more complicated. It is comprised of puzzle pieces that can be shaped and molded to fit an agenda. Their view of the world demands that they actively engage in shaping the pieces of the puzzle. To the neo-conservatives Israel is a piece that fits and the fundamentalist support that like that notion are valuable foot soldiers.


Here are two facts that I will not endeavor to prove. I think that the facts are undeniable but if anyone disputes these please let me know and I will elaborate. These facts are important in the dissection of the neo-cons view of the world.

1) The US is not dependent upon foreign energy supplies out of necessity but rather out of choice. We could in fact turn of the supply and continue on without a glitch for some time.
2) The US is currently unrivaled in the world and without a peer competitor in terms of military might or economic power.

If we accept these two facts then it is obvious that we did not go to war in Iraq because we need the oil. In fact with our current reserves and technological capability we could withdraw completely and never buy another barrel from any of those people and be just fine. We would develop alternative forms of energy.

Oil is however a key piece of the puzzle in terms of who becomes a peer competitor of the United States. Neither China nor Europe has sufficient reserves to turn off the supply. One our both of these nations will someday become a peer-competitor if the United States. (yes the European Union has been set back a few years from becoming a nation so they are less of a threat)

China on the other hand is ripe for an eventual rise to preeminence. They have recently gutted and begun a slow process of rebuilding their military with a preference to technology. They have embraced a socialized form of capitalism to spur industrial and technological growth of their economy. Their development into a true super-power will be slow but it is coming.

Our economy is based upon continuing growth and new markets. The neo-conservatives know it would be a difficult sell to business concerns to avoid a market like China. Likewise American consumers are unwilling to forsake cheap imports from China. Our desire for profit is the very thing that ignites the Chinese economy and will one day allow them to become a peer-competitor.

The neo-conservatives know this. Their strategy is to deny total control of necessary resources to the Chinese now, so that when they day come that the Eastern Dragon desires to raise its head it is incapable of truly doing so.

Their foreign policy is one of preemptive containment. In their mind if the puzzle pieces can be molded today to affect the outcome of events tomorrow then their efforts are worthwhile.

Neo-conservatives are not necessarily evil men. They believe they are global “do-gooders” spreading peace and preventing large wars by waging smaller ones in the name of Pax Americana.


The problems that we paleo-conservatives have with the neo-conservative world-view are many.

First they believe that security can be achieved by controlling the actions of others. They ignore that security might also be achieved by controlling our own actions. If the US exploited domestic reserves of energy and concurrently developed alternative means we could step back from the fray of Middle Eastern affairs. Likewise, if we adopted a more historically American view of the world and foreign policy, especially in terms of alliances we would engender much less hostility.

The most difficult idea to accept for most Americans is the notion that our desire for profit must also be challenged. Why trade with China if we truly believe them to be a future threat? Paleo-conservatism is not Isolationism but it is an ideology that demands trading on our terms. By terms I mean economically fair to us and beneficial to the US in the long-term. To be certain a shifting of our economic world-view would prove painful. But the fact is so long as we are dependent upon unbridled consumerism and capitalism we will never be free of foreign threats. This one topic alone deserves numerous posts.

The proper view of foreign policy for the paleo-conservative ought to be taken form the example of Thomas Jefferson vis-a-vis the Barbary Pirates. We ought to demand the right to trade with those we wish to trade with without interference. If another power threatens this right then we are prepared to empty the treasury to secure our rights. However, neither our economic or military policies should serve to threaten anyone else. We might rightly expect that our interference in the affairs of others will inevitably result in them viewing us as true enemies and the emptying of their treasuries to oppose us.

The neo-conic notion that preemption against some potential future threat from China, now in Iraq, is a vicious circle sort of logic. The very thing they wish to avoid is the thing that will become reality.