Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Greenspan Argument: Why Sadaam Hussein Had to Go

In his recent book The Age of Turbulence, former US Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan writes that oil was the reason for invading Iraq. I have questioned this notion, largely based on Gwynne Dyer's argument that it is against all countries' interests to disrupt the oil supply. But Greenspan is, at first blush, pretty convincing. Here's his argument, as passed on to Bob Woodward in an interview:

It was looking like Sadaam was going to be able to take control of the Straits of Hormuz, through which up to 19 million barrels of oil pass daily. Had he achieved this, Sadaam could have disrupted world oil supplies. Greenspan says that if Sadaam were able to disrupt as little as 3 million barrels a day, he could have caused prices to jump dramatically - easily to $120/barrel. If he had disrupted more than that, he could have caused chaos in the global economy.

Is this true? If it is, then history might judge that Bush did the right thing to unseat Sadaam. (I'm not saying that he was justified in invading and occupying the country - there is no justification for killing 650,000 people and turning 4 million into refugees.)

I have some doubts about Greenspan's argument.

Greenspan isn't explicitly trying to explain Bush's motivation: he is explaining his own reasons for thinking that something had to be done about Sadaam. If Bush's rationale for war had anything to do with the Straits of Hormuz, then he surely would have used it, given his kitchen-sink approach to justifying his war (WMD, human rights, regional stability, terrorism, al Quaeda, ...)

Also, Greenspan should be more explicit that such a move on Sadaam's part would cause short-term problems, not long-term ones, because if he had taken over the Straits of Hormuz there would have been a broad-based coalition of countries, including all oil-producing states whose oil business was disrupted, ready to take immediate military action to take back the Straits. In fact, had Sadaam been left in place to make such a bold move, it would probably have been fairly easy to depose him without bombing and occupying the entire country.

Update: Gwynne Dyer rebuts Greenspan here.



Anonymous said...

Left gatekeepers propagated the myth the war was bout oil. The truth is zionists like Greenspan have dragged the West into The Middle East conflict on Israel’s side, on the back of a series of false flag terror attacks in the West blamed on ‘Muslim Terror’. Thats the truth. Thats why you don’t hear it.

Yappa said...

Hey anonymous -

I'm having trouble decoding your epithets. "Left gatekeepers" seems to give a whole lot too much power to the left (but thanks for the confidence in our abilities). Greenspan the zionist throws me a bit, although I'm taking a leap that you accuse anyone with a Jewish name of being part of some sort of international conspiracy. "False flag" is a term I'm not familiar with, but somehow you use the term to claim that ...could I really have this right? ...there were no Muslims involved in the 9/11 attack, despite the fact that al Quaeda claimed credit for it and that the hijackers left plenty of evidence.