Monday, September 17, 2007

Motives fallacy #3097: US intervention in Iraq was all about oil

I discussed earlier this year the notion of a motives fallacy – namely the idea that exposing the motives behind an opinion shows that the opinion is false. Allen Greenspan has claimed in a new book that the ‘prime motive for the war’ in Iraq was oil.

So what? I guess as economic history this is interesting information and such a motive can scarcely be irrelevant given that the Middle East has 66% of the world’s oil reserves. Of course Western countries would not wish to see this vital resource in the hands of Islamic terrorists.

But in terms of current events the motives for entering Iraq have no more relevance for the moral case for continuing to seek to secure the situation there than do the sunk costs of failed aspects of military strategy there.

There is a legitimate debate concerning current strategies being employed in Iraq but the reasons for the initial intervention are irrelevant to this debate.


derrida derider said...

Yes and no, Harry. Yes in the sense that this was not a crude grab to steal oil (buying off Saddam would have been cheaper), no in the sense that the US would simply not have run these risks if the mid-East had as much oil as, say, Oceania.

But I strongly disagree that past motives - read "good faith" - don't matter for future actions. Why would anyone believe Iran, for example, is really a nuclear threat? We know the Bushies lied us into a war before - why shouldn't we assume they're doing it again?

There's a blogosphere-famous post on this last point here. Its worth reading.

melaleuca said...

Iran's development of nuclear technology is itself a good example of why the motives fallacy is wrong. No prudent foreign policy maker would fail to ask the question: "Is Iran really developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes or does it really intend to develop nuclear weapons?"

The motives fallacy is unrealistic for another reason. No one can be across the detail of each and every issue. Consequently all of us invariably take into account motive when weighing up opinions on a particular issue and when deciding whose version of the 'facts' to believe. I imagine this applies to you, Harry, as much as everyone else.

Anonymous said...

The lie perpetrated by the left and given daily support by our leftist media is that the invasion of Iraq was just for the US to access Iraqi oil. "Alan Greenspan declared "The Iraq war is LARGELY about oil," The Australian Defence Minister recently listed the security of the world's oil supply as ONE of the major reasons for Australia's continuing military presence in Iraq - NOT the reason for invasion.

Those who sneer, "It’s all about oil" need to understand one thing. If troops are withdrawn from Iraq it will leave a vacuum where terrorists instead of being engaged in an all out battle with coalition forces, will be free to attack weak Middle East governments and close the oil fields in the region and block the Straights of Homuz. The world's stock markets will crash and leftists, along with everyone else, will not just have no fuel for their cars, but they could very well lose their job, house, and possibly even their marriage, so critics need think twice before venting their venom against British, Australian and American involvement in Iraq.

The US with it's own oil fields and reserves is not dependent on Mid East oil, instead most imported oil comes from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria. The US knows though that rest of the world's economy is based on the un-interrupted supply of Mid East oil and the need to stabilize the whole region, which in turn will keep the oil to the world flowing and the world economy on track.

The war in Iraq will ultimately cost the US around a trillion dollars. To think that the US is willing to pay this amount of treasure, not to mention thousands of American lives to save a few cents per gallon, or make oil companies profit is absurd. And as John Howard critic and columnist Michael Costello recently wrote, "Its mindless to say we went to war for the oil."

If President Bush wanted oil, he did not have to invade Iraq - he could have simply entered in to secret (illegal) negotiations with Saddam as did France and Germany.

The whole Western world leaves it to America to ensure that all get oil. The US Navy guards the worlds sea lanes and her troops battle it out in the Mid-East to protect that supply. And every new day the lefties get up and expect that if they take their car to the servo they will get their fuel, and every day they will be whining about America and oil.

hc said...

You cannot judge whether Iran is a nuclear threat or not by asserting that George Bush lied on Iraq. It just lacks all logic.

Nor does it matter if you are pressed for time and cannot make a careful inference by examining all the facts. It still does not follow that Iran is or is not a threat because Bush is claimked to lie on Iraq.

I think part of the initial reason is oil but that wasn't the point of the post.

derrida derider said...

"You cannot judge whether Iran is a nuclear threat or not by asserting that George Bush lied on Iraq."

Nonsense - you certainly can and should if the main evidence that Iran is a nucular threat is George Bush's say-so. And that is the current state of play - none of Iran's neighbours are worried about it, and the IAEA seems content after the latest inspections agreement.

The irony is that it's entirely possible that the US is telling the truth - after all they should know as they're the ones who've given Iran every incentive to get a bomb (as I've said before, if I was an Iranian national security adviser I'd be advising "we need a bomb - right now").

Tell me Harry, would you buy a used car off George Bush after the lemon he sold you last time?

hc said...

dd, I don't follow your logic at all. Even if you do conclude that Bush is a liar does that mean you automatically assume he will lie? Why should you assume that he will be loose with the truth on all occasions? Why assume even that he is informed enough to tell a lie?

Even if he sought to lie about the issue he may be wrong.

derrida derider said...

Let me spell it out, Harry:

- George Bush long wanted a war with Iraq
- George Bush got his war with Iraq by saying that Iraq had a WMD program
- George Bush long wanted a war with Iran
- George Bush now says Iran has a WMD program
- There is no evidence other than George Bush's word that Iran in fact has a WMD program

By "George Bush", of course, I mean his administration - certainly Cheney more than Bush seems to be the driver of the current sabre rattling.

As I said the irony is that it's possible they're telling the truth this time. But given past behaviour your priors have to be that they probably aren't, so you should accordingly ignore everything coming out of Washington on the topic and seek independent evidence.

The phrase "fool me once and it's your fault, fool me twice ..." comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

- "George Bush got his war with Iraq by saying that Iraq had a WMD program"

Every security agency in the world believed that Saddam had WMD including saddams gebnerals-and our very own Chief Weapons Inspector Richard Butler said he had them.(because I have held them in my hands"

You are just another whining leftist who cannot understand that Saddam had ignored the UN mandate for 11 years and the last thing America wanted was a nuclear armed Saddam threatening stability in the ME or handing them to al-Quida.

If it was "All about oil then how come gas price in the US are not 50cents a gallon?To think that the US would spend a trillion US dollars and thousands of American lives for oil that the US doesnt even get fromthe ME is just plain stupid.

Insight said...

This is an interesting debate. I am majoring in Economics. As for me, one has to understand the geostrategy and geopolitics of our current world to truly fathom the actual policies of the United States.Two major events drive those policies.On one hand, we see changes in the foreign policies of the Giants of Asia notably China, India and so on. Its greed for oil and competitiveness lead the way to a new policy which include not only some strategic areas like Africa, but also the Middle East and soon the Arabian peninsula. We have in mind the recent tours of China President to establish a close trading relation between oil-owned african countries and the sub-continent country.Obviously, this might be a threat to the thriving prosperity of US economics.On the other hand, many economists foresee an frightening end of the potential that Oil-oriented industries would undergo in upcoming years. We do know that Oil is not everlasting.As a matter of fact, within' a decade ahead, we should think ahead of alternative resources.Grappling with such issues, it is incumbent to the US to either find out new oil resource, man the maximum of current one, or to introduce the consumption of new energies.