GREELEY, Colo., Nov. 4 -- During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush and his aides sternly dismissed suggestions that the war was all about oil. "Nonsense," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared. "This is not about that," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Now, more than 3 1/2 years later, someone else is asserting that the war is about oil -- President Bush....
"You can imagine a world in which these extremists and radicals got control of energy resources," he said at a rally here Saturday for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.). "And then you can imagine them saying, 'We're going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your price of oil up unless you do the following. And the following would be along the lines of, well, Retreat and let us continue to expand our dark vision."
And America, faced with the horrifying prospect of $7 gasoline, would promptly abandon Israel to be destroyed by the Islamofascists?
I didn't think so. This is what I've never understood about folks screaming about how those dirty Muslims were gonna jack up the price of oil - so what? I mean obviously there's an economic cost to be paid here, and a severe one, but America didn't stop supporting Israel during the 1970s or 1980s, though it did occasionally pursue a more even-handed policy - witness Bush the Elder's efforts.
Is Bush saying here that America's support for Israel - or Saudi Arabia, or Qatar for that matter - is contingent on stable oil prices? Is he saying that this hypothetical strategy could actually work? The historical evidence is pretty contrary - America didn't abandon the Saudis after 1973, after all. If that's not what Bush is saying, why bring it up at all? The far more realistic scenario, it should be said, is the one we actually live with every day - regimes like Saudi Arabia and Iran getting rich from high oil prices and giving terrorists a cut.
To put it more generically, what security and defense policies is America pursuing today that America would not pursue if gasoline were $10/gallon? Frankly, I think that list is pretty small. Israel would still be an ally, the Saudis would probably be even more valuable, not less, and America's interests in smaller producers around the world would be even more pronounced. But if Bush is going to raise this issue, I think he owes it to America's allies to spell out what the limits of America's friendship are.
As a sidenote, it's worth wondering, for a moment, who Bush thinks is going to take control in Iraq when the US leaves. Islamic extremists? Likely, yes. Will they be worse than, say, the Iranian or Saudi Islamic extremists who currently control a large chunk of the world's oil? Even if they were worse, could they do much more damage than Saudi- and Iranian-financed terrorism already has? Remember, that list includes 9/11.