Wednesday :: Jun 4, 2003

Wolfie Admits It Was Really All About the Oil-Or Did He?


by Steve

Kos posts an incredible-looking story just now from the Guardian , wherein Paul Wolfowitz appears to admit to an Asian security summit over the weekend that oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq.

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. The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.

The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

Mr Wolfowitz went on to tell journalists at the conference that the US was set on a path of negotiation to help defuse tensions between North Korea and its neighbours - in contrast to the more belligerent attitude the Bush administration displayed in its dealings with Iraq.

Mr Wolfowitz's frank assessment of the importance of oil could not come at a worse time for the US and UK governments, which are both facing fierce criticism at home and abroad over allegations that they exaggerated the threat post by Saddam Hussein in order to justify the war. Amid growing calls from all parties for a public inquiry, the foreign affairs select committee announced last night it would investigate claims that the UK government misled the country over its evidence of Iraq's WMD.

The move is a major setback for Tony Blair, who had hoped to contain any inquiry within the intelligence and security committee, which meets in secret and reports to the prime minister.

In the US, the failure to find solid proof of chemical, biological and nuclear arms in Iraq has raised similar concerns over Mr Bush's justification for the war and prompted calls for congressional investigations.

Aside from Wolfowitz’s recent rash of candor on these subjects, there are other questions here besides the collective “we told you so” that the Left can crow about on this now. First, is the man looking to get out?

Second, by saying that the biggest difference between the two “threats” of Iraq and North Korea was oil, does this mean that if North Korea had oil we would also have invaded that member of the “Axis of Evil?”

I don’t think so for several reasons. First, North Korea was and is no threat to Israel. Second, the US suspects that due to its own unwillingness to deal with Pyongyang, it is possible that the North has nukes and the Bush Administration cannot be certain that a military strike against a looney-tune regime in Pyongyang wouldn’t result in either a million man-army coming down to Seoul or a couple of crude nukes heading there instead. Plus the South and China/Russia had previously put Bush on notice that no military move against Pyongyang would be tolerated, and China had specifically told the administration that any military strike against Pyongyang that resulted in damage to the South Korean economy would have grave consequences for the Chinese economy. A strike against Iraq would not cause similar economic harm to others except to the Russians and French oil contract commitments.

Lastly, although the imminent and now discredited WMD issue was stated as a reason for going into Iraq, it is quite possible if not probable that the Bushies knew full well that Saddam had no nuke capability that could be used against an American invasion, which is not the case with Pyongyang.

Wolfie will either have to find a credible way to deny these quotes made in front of dozens of people reported by two reputable overseas papers, or admit to them and watch things unravel further for Blair initially and then possibly Bush down the road at the Senate hearings. It gives Senator Byrd a choice set of quotes to nail Wolfie with during the hearings, and although the American public says they still would support the war if no WMDs were found, it remains to be seen how those numbers will look several months from now if the suspicions of many are confirmed that it was about oil and Israel all along, and the WMD and terrorism “reasons” were nothing more than fig leaves.

Especially if young men keep coming home from Iraq in body bags.

Update:

Per the comments of John Iwaniszek and MattS, who believes that Wolfie’s quote in the Guardian was taken out of context, I did google for another citation for the story. I found what looks like an Associated Press wire story reprinted in a northern Pennsylvania paper wherein the quote and the surrounding context is found:

The United States hopes to end the nuclear standoff with North Korea by putting economic pressure on the impoverished nation, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Saturday.

North Korea would respond to economic pressure, unlike Iraq, where military action was necessary because the country's oil money was propping up the regime, Wolfowitz told delegates at the second annual Asia Security Conference in Singapore.

"The country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse," Wolfowitz said. "That I believe is a major point of leverage."

"The primary difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options in Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil," he said.

Although I am not a fan of Wolfie’s, within this context, his quote makes sense and the Guardian looks sloppy here.

Steve :: 10:10 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!