More at Stake in Iraq than Oil
Grim benchmark sharpens war debate
October 28, 2005 8:39 PM
On Oct. 26, a new milestone in the war was surpassed when major newspapers reported the 2000th serviceman was killed in Iraq.
The next day, a debate entitled “Historical Perspective on the War in Iraq,” was presented in the Science Building at SF . A panel of U.S. and world history faculty agreed the war was an unquestionable disaster, but they argued over the best exit strategy.
Since 9-11, the history department has sponsored several public debates to explore the motive of the attack on the United States, yet Iraq - who had no involvement - has remained the key focus.
European History Professor Anthony D’Agostino noted that Iraq has the second most proven reserves of oil in the world. While oil was not the sole motive for the war, he said the insurrection has placed the pipelines in jeopardy.
“I don’t think it’s been demonstrated they can defend oil pipelines against an attack,” said D’Agostino. “That oil is sweet. It doesn’t require much refining and is fairly recoverable.”
The world is now going through an “oil shock” similar to the 1970s when predictions of “peak oil” meant drillers would find no new fields, and there is greater demand for oil now that China and India recently entered the auto age, according to D’Agostino. Eighty percent of world reserves are state owned and that has spawned a feeling of malaise among Western powers, he explained.
“The consensus in the business press is the only way to bring down oil shock is a breakthrough in production,” said D'Agostino. “Anticipated fields in Kazakhstan and the Caspian region have not borne out. But oil doesn’t mean perspectives of the U.S. (are?)focused on oil. Perhaps there was a grander vision than oil. Oil is only so important.”
D’Agostino said the lesson from Iraq is that Bush’s justification for the war now - bringing U.S. style democracy to the Mideast - is not likely to succeed because there has been no precedent for social democracy in the region.
“What is the point of staying in Iraq?” asked D’Agostino. “We’ve accomplished all we can. Hussein’s Bathist Party is out. There are no weapons of mass destruction. A civil war is already occurring. The only real reason for the U.S. to stay is to make sure Iraqi state oil doesn’t get all the oil.”
Tanya Erquiaga marched in the Sept. 24 rally against the war, but is no longer an activist.
“I’m against the Bush administration policy," said Erquiaga, 26, social science senior. "I was all for Kerry. They say he was weak, but I liked his ideas. But let's follow up on what was started by Bush, but avoid further war.”
Moderator and history professor Jules Tygiel called the Iraq War a "blunder in which the U.S. should never have gotten involved."
"The democrats don’t know where to stand, and it inhibits a strong anti-war movement," he said. Dissenters should put their energy into the 2006 congressional elections to get more democrats in office if they want to send a message, he noted.
“People on the left haven’t asked, ‘what are the consequences of a pullout?’” said Tygiel. “What would Iran do if a Sunni/Shiite conflict ensued? Would a regional war develop with Iran intervening to save the Shiites? The Bush policy has not left us with any good alternatives. It is not entirely clear a pullout is an appropriate policy. We have to withdraw, but withdraw carefully.”
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