248. Oil is the real motive

Did president Bush make the case for war against Iraq? Polls, here and abroad, show that he didn’t. The reason is simple: there is no case to be made.

The president keeps saying that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. The problem, as columnist Robert Novak said on Crossfire (Jan. 28), is that “this weapons of mass destruction (issue) is a subterfuge. It is a pretext… I need him to tell us what the clear and present danger to the American national interest is by Saddam Hussein, who has had weapons of mass destruction for 20 years. He’s never used them on us.”

Had the president brought oil into the equation, he would have a case. It should be noted that Bush was on the board of Harken Energy; vice-president Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was on Chevron’s board. So, when an article in The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 29) is entitled “U.S. Probes Its Iraq-Oil Rights” the oil case becomes stronger.

For Bush to be credible, he must pledge that not a penny of Iraqi oil will be used to pay for the war; that not a single American company will be granted any oil contract in Iraq; that once Iraq is “liberated” an international independent body will be formed to manage the Iraqi oil business until Iraqis freely elect new leaders. Otherwise, the suspicion will remain that the war is about the control of a country that has the second-largest oil reserve in the world.

February 3, 2003