by Jan Baughman
(Swans - March 12, 2007) If the antiwar movement and politicians opposed to the Iraq War wish to have an impact, they must change their strategy and fight the correct battle. They must acknowledge the United States' motive for previous, present, and looming wars and its actions to impose regime change throughout the world: control of oil and protection of its routes of transport.
The correct battle is against US energy policy, and fighting that battle requires a willingness to change our way of life in which the United States, less than five percent of the world population, consumes 25% of global energy resources. It is not a matter of reducing our dependence on foreign oil; it is a matter of reducing our dependence on oil.
No president or politician will state outright that oil is the motive for war; rather, the declared Global War on Terror and the spread of democracy are presented as a more palatable, nobler cause -- the so-called ideological struggle of the 21st century -- for which the powers that be are willing to sacrifice the lives of those answering the call to battle, and from which the rest of us benefit. Blood for Freedom is a more compelling and acceptable construct than Blood for Oil.
In fighting the wrong battle, critics repeatedly condemn the Bush administration's false justification for invading Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's link to 9/11 -- without taking the logical next step of challenging the real motive. Critics continue to characterize the Bush administration's war as a complete failure and the leadership as incompetent. Likewise, critics of the war calling for immediate troop withdrawal or a timetable for their return fail to recognize the existence of permanent military bases in Iraq that will require some level of troops to be there permanently to protect our interests. There will be no complete withdrawal under the current paradigm.
If the actual motive for war had been the spread of democracy or the containment of terrorism, it was indeed a failure. In fact, the war's success in the context of its true motive was recently realized, not with the Iraq elections, nor the execution of Saddam Hussein, but in the form of the new Iraq oil laws that place the country's nationalized oil system in the hands of representatives from major oil companies and outside of the governance of OPEC.
President Bush states frequently that he has "no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life"; unless and until we demand a different way of life, he and future presidents -- Republican or Democrat -- will continue acting thusly on our behalf. Map out the previous wars waged by presidents -- Republicans and Democrats -- that follow the corridor of oil. Pay careful attention to the ongoing demonization of two other leaders, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, whose countries rank third and seventh respectively in terms of global oil reserves.
Unless we make drastic changes to our energy consumption, wars will continue to be waged as the global competition for oil grows in the face of decreasing supply. It is time for antiwar advocates to recognize this and change their strategy accordingly. Otherwise, it is time to move on, put a stop to this misdirected movement that is fighting a loosing battle, and admit that our way of life should be preserved at all cost.
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