Fighting for Oil? – Murray N. Rothbard – Mises Daily

Fighting for Oil? – Murray N. Rothbard – Mises Daily.

 Monday, January 07, 2013 by 

[Editor’s Note: Is the Iraq War over oil? Chuck Hagel, who was just nominated for Secretary of Defense, thinks so; or at least he did in 2007. And, for neocon Bill Kristol, that’s a big problem. Michael Moore responded to Kristol, quoting several conservative pundits who basically agreed with Hagel. One of the pundits quoted was Ann Coulter, who claimed that it is right and good that the U.S. fights for oil, because the country needs it. Murray Rothbard, in detailing the prime motives for the first war in Iraq, made a crucial point. Intervention in Iraq is indeed about oil. But it is not about national access to oil per se, but about the privileged access of certain oil producers. It is war, not for consumer capitalism, but for crony capitalists.]

Why the Intervention in Arabia?

(The Free Market, November 1990. Included in Making Economic Sense.)

Amidst the near-universal hoopla for President Bush’s massive intervention into the Arabian Peninsula, a few sober observers have pointed out the curious lack of clarity in Mr. Bush’s strategic objective: is it to defend Saudi Arabia (and is that kingdom really under attack?); to kick Iraq out of Kuwait; to restore what Bush has oddly referred to as the “legitimate government” of Kuwait (made “legitimate” by what process?); to depose or murder Saddam Hussein (and to replace him with whom or what?); or to carpet-bomb Iraq back to the Stone Age?

There has been even less discussion, however, about a somewhat different even more puzzling question: why, exactly, are we suddenly hip-deep into Saudi Arabia? Why the hysteria? Why the most massive military buildup since Vietnam, and the placing of almost our entire army, air force, navy, marines, and a chunk of reserves in this one spot on the globe where there is not even a U.S. treaty obligation?

(1) Big guy, little guy. What is puzzling to some of us is crystal clear to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. forces in “Operation Desert Shield.” Growing testy under media questioning, the general replied: “Don’t you read the papers? You all know why we’re here. A big guy beat up a little guy and we’re here to stop it.”

The general was obviously using the Police Action metaphor. A big guy is beating up a little guy, and the cop on the corner intervenes to put a stop to the aggression.

Unfortunately, on further analysis, the Police Action metaphor raises far more questions than it answers. Aside from the obvious problem: why is the U.S. the self-appointed international cop? The cops, seeing the bad guy flee and lose himself in his neighborhood, do not surround that neighborhood with massive force and starve out the entire neighborhood looking for the bad guy. Still less do cops carpet-bomb the area hoping the bad guy is killed in the process. Cops operate on the crucial principle that innocent civilians do not get killed or targeted in the course of trying to apprehend the guilty….. goto webpage


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