Thursday, June 05, 2003

As much as I love the Guardian, I have to say I'm more than a tad bit pissed off that they would get me all hot and bothered with this headline: Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil.

The reason I'm troubled is that the headline and the first paragraph seem to have dramatically overstated (and selectively interpreted) the story. The first paragraph says

"Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war."

Ummmm. Source? Turns out the Guardian is relying on reports in Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt. But the Tagesspiegel piece simply quotes Die Welt, which in turn quotes Wolfowitz as saying, in response to the question of why North Korea is handled differently than Iraq, "[b]etrachten wir es einmal ganz simpel. Der wichtigste Unterschied zwischen Nordkorea und dem Irak ist der, dass wir wirtschaftlich einfach keine Wahl im Irak hatten. Das Land schwimmt auf einem Meer von Öl."

My translation of that: "Let's put it very simply. The biggest difference between North Korea and Irak is that we simply had no choice, economically, in Iraq. The country swimms on a sea of oil." The Welt reporter let it go at that. Why? Because it isn't a shocking revelation.

Context is important, you know. It seems pretty clear, from the Welt piece, that Wolfowitz means there is still a great deal of economic leverage possible with North Korea (which appears to be destitute) but there was very little with Iraq because Iraq had plenty of non-illicit stuff to trade (oil).

Mind you, I still am pretty sure that the US (and much of the rest of the world) gives a rat's ass about the entire Middle East (broadly drawn) mostly because of that sea of oil, and gives something like a shrew's ass about various other, less oily parts of the world.

Oh Guardian! Don't be silly! Stick with Rumsfeld: he's the one whose going to fuck up and say something stupid.

By the way, as if you need one more reason to question whether the Guardian is all much ado about nothing on this, check the Straits Times of Singapore and you'll see no huffing and puffing whatsoever on this "story" (and the statement was made in Singapore).

"Across 110th Street" (Bobby Womack) and "Town without Pity" (Gene Pitney)


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