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Iraq: What Are We Fighting For?

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Feb 14, 2005
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Iraq: What Are We Fighting For?
by Thomas E. Brewton
03 November 2005

For PR purposes the Bush administration has proclaimed that we are fighting for "freedom" in the Muslim world. But we are really fighting to defend political liberty in the Western world.

Liberals are ignorant of, or choose to ignore, the reality of international power relations. People like Senators Kennedy and Kerry are chattering instead about the "failure of democracy" in Iraq that has left us in a "quagmire."

If their PR campaign can make "failure of democracy" the standard for public opinion purposes, the outcry for bringing troops back and abandoning Iraq to the terrorists will, sooner or later, become irresistible. Al Qaeda knows that, if the liberals win the PR war, it has only to wait in order to regain control of all of the oil in the Middle East -- first Iraq, then adjoining Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iran, also a big oil producer, has already made clear that its historical rivalry with the Sunni Muslim world will not stand in the way of a common desire to destroy Israel and the United States.

Control of Middle Eastern oil by Islamic radicals will mean severe economic damage to the Western world and the obliteration of Israel. Statesmen, including President Eisenhower and Israel's Golda Meir, have long recognized this reality. During the cold War, the Soviets continually pressured Iran and courted Arab oil producers. In Iran in 1951, an anti-Western regime under Mohammed Mossadegh began steps to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and use the threat of curtailing oil exports as a lever against the West.

But uninformed public opinion all the while has remained blissfully enchanted by the fantasy that world peace is only a matter of wishing for it and refusing to fight for it.

David Airth, in a comment regarding the posting titled "Thucydides and Plato on Iraq and the United States," is correct that a major point of contention is the putative theory of neo-cons that "democracy," however it may be defined, could be implanted in the Middle East, which has never experienced anything other than autocratic rule under the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Alexander, Rome, and Muslim caliphates, or clan-based tribal kingdoms.

To say that the standard of success or failure in Iraq is successful transplantation of western democracy is rather like saying that our D-Day Normandy invasion in World War II was fought to gain control of the port of Antwerp. The logistics support through Antwerp was vital to our campaign, as Hitler realized when he launched the Battle of the Bulge, but Antwerp was only an instrument in the campaign to roll back Hitler's dominance of the Continent and the threat to survival of England and the United States.

As in World War II, we were directly, brutally, and without warning attacked, with the loss of thousands of non-combatant lives. Osama Bin Ladin proclaimed a jihad against the Western world and the United States in particular, of which the announced intention was to enslave us and subject us to Koranic sharia.

Osama Bin Ladin is both a very wealthy and a very intelligent man. Clearly he had more in mind than empty bravado. But what was his plan?

The only real vulnerability that he could exploit is the Western world's daily dependency on massive imports of oil from the Middle East.

I argued in earlier postings that any administration, after the direct attacks on the United States on 9/11, would be guilty of treasonable stupidity if it did not take action to secure the Western world's access to Middle Eastern oil.

This, of course, plays into the long-standing socialist doctrine that wars are only the product of rich capitalists' greed and that the "workers of the world" should just boycott such conflicts, or in today's version, leave it to the UN. Hence the endless claims by liberals that the war was fought just to enrich Halliburton.

Subjecting oil from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait to unified political control would enable that hegemony to strangle the West. The paradigm had already been established by Saddam Hussein, both in his 1980-1988 war against Iran to gain control of Iranian oil, and by his 1990 annexation of Kuwait on the rationalization that Kuwait's oil really belonged, historically, to Iraq. Knowing that they would be next, the Saudis permitted the United States to assemble an invasion force for Desert Storm on their land.

After Desert Storm, Bin Ladin had only to gain Saddam's support, which he was well along in doing, and to precipitate a revolutionary take-over inside Saudi Arabia, a real threat that the Saudi clan fearfully recognized. Kuwait would then not long be able to withstand the pressure to "coordinate" its economic relations with Bin Ladin's anti-American policy.

It was obvious from Osama Bin Ladin's earlier actions and fatwas that he was playing just this much bigger game, far more dangerous to us than hit-and-and-run attacks, even dirty-bombs in major cities. With the sophistication accruing from his own financial wealth, he understood clearly that the entire Western world could be brought to its knees, very quickly, if Al Qaeda could gain control over the West's largest source of the one commodity absolutely essential to its economic functioning.

Hence his complex maneuvering with all of the radical Islamic regimes, including Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, and even Shiite Iran. Training and weapons supply bases were established in all of those places.

Far from childishly expecting Santa Claus to bring us peace and tranquility if we are good little liberals, we must grow up and look reality straight in the face. Our survival depends upon recognizing the true nature of the peril facing us.

As Plato repeatedly wrote, public opinion is not wisdom. The public can make intuitive judgments about personal character when electing the nation's leaders. But uninformed public opinion, clamoring for the easy way out, is not a sound basis for foreign policy, in which the full array of factors, for national security reasons, never can be made known to the public.

Thomas E. Brewton had the extraordinary good fortune to study political philosophy under Eric Voegelin and Constitutional law under Walter Berns. His website is The View from 1776.


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