FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The True Cost of War for Oil

by BONNIE BRICKER And ADIL E. SHAMOO

“We have to decide, as a nation, whether our need for Middle Eastern oil is more important to our future than our conduct as a moral and ethical people.” Which brave presidential candidate would lay it on the line so clearly? None yet. And that’s the problem with the national debate on the war in Iraq, and possibly, our foray into Iran as well.

Alan Greenspan, former chair of the Federal Reserve, has declared that “…the Iraq war is largely about oil” in his recently released memoirs. “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are,” said the Republican Senator from Nebraska Chuck Hagel to law students of Catholic University last September. “They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”

Yet, although anti-war activists decried the “blood for oil” connection from the beginning of the war, no honest conversations have occurred in the public to involve Americans in this discussion.

This is the debate that Americans should be having: on the one hand, America’s economy is fueled by our use of energy to run our lives–fueling our cars and SUVs, our industry, our homes. The United States uses 25% of the world’s oil and but we’re only 4% of the world’s population.

We like to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and we love the freedom of choosing to use as much energy as we want. We also don’t like anyone telling us that we have to change our ways. If we keep using energy the way we always have, we’re going to need a dependable source of it to ensure that our children and grandchildren have access to the same way of life. But we have competitors for oil in the world marketplace–China, especially–and many argue that if we don’t lock up Middle Eastern oil for ourselves now, we won’t have it for our use in the very near future. That will mean paying even more for energy and allowing other nations to rev up their economic engines at our expense.

On the other hand, the cost of ensuring this oil supply is a hefty one. Americans are losing lives. A generation of veterans will be suffering through the vast wounds of this war. Our actions in Iraq have led to as many as a million Iraqi deaths and many more wounded, and displaced 4.4 million Iraqis. We have, in the name of “The War on Terror”, created so many U.S. enemies around the world, that our college-age students sew Canadian flags on their backpacks when abroad in the hopes of disguising their American identities.

As a result of this war, many Americans have come to accept that U.S. policy will include the moral and ethical disruptions of war–even when we have not been attacked by the people we invade, but rather are invading a weakened nation for the resource we desire.

Americans deserve this discussion so we can decide who we are and how we wish to solve this problem. Is it feasible or naïve to think we can use alternative energy sources instead of oil to address our needs?

Is it possible to change our habits and our lives to accommodate lower energy needs–or will too many Americans reject any change in habit?

And finally, are we really the noble Americans we like to think that we are, if we allow death and destruction of this magnitude to occur in our name?

We’re still waiting to hear the honest debate from our presidential candidates, from our media, and even with our friends and neighbors.

Bonnie Bricker is a teacher and contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus, where this essay originally appeared.

Adil E. Shamoo, born and raised in Baghdad, is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He writes on ethics and public policy. He is an analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus. Both authors can be reached at: ashamoo@umaryland.edu.

 

 

Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail