Peak Oil and the Middle East

Bush Administration, Middle East

You want to read Juan Cole’s hypothesis on the role of oil in the bombing of Lebanon. Trust me on this.

In addition: Via Kevin Drum, Jeff Weintraub suggests that the Israeli bombing of Lebanon was not about getting rid of Hezbollah.

Instead, it looks increasingly apparent that a prime Israeli goal was to provoke a multilateral diplomatic and political intervention by the so-called “international community” (meaning in this case the US, the major European governments, Russia, and some Arab governments) to help broker, impose, and guarantee a political solution alone the lines of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680. In the meantime, Israel’s military assault would also weaken Hezbollah’s military capacities and other bargaining cards in ways that could facilitate a diplomatic & political solution of this sort. It also seems clear that the Israeli & US governments have been roughly in accord on this strategy–and, more surprisingly, that the major European governments have signed on to its broad outlines (expressed, for example in the G-8 Summit statement on the Middle East crisis and the positions adopted at the later Rome conference), a fact that has been obscured by surface noise and posturing about the more specific issue of an immediate cease-fire. All the commentary that has misunderstood or ignored these connections between the military, diplomatic, and political dimensions of the situation–which is to say, most of the commentary in news reports, punditry, and the blogosphere–has largely missed the point of what is going on. (For one example, see here.)

Compare/contrast to the Michael Levy article at, “Ending the Neoconservative Nightmare.”

Witnessing the near-perfect symmetry of Israeli and American policy has been one of the more noteworthy aspects of the latest Lebanon war. A true friend in the White House. No deescalate and stabilize, honest-broker, diplomatic jaw-jaw from this president. Great. Except that Israel was actually in need of an early exit strategy, had its diplomatic options narrowed by American weakness and marginalization in the region, and found itself ratcheting up aerial and ground operations in ways that largely worked to Hezbollah’s advantage, the Qana tragedy included. The American ladder had gone AWOL.

As Juan Cole says, much is not making sense.

The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? … Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country?


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  1. moonbat  •  Aug 6, 2006 @2:27 pm

    My cynical self has already been thinking along the lines of Professor Cole’s hypothesis, which filled in the gaps in my own reasoning.

    I’m waiting for the day when the Democratic Party can clearly and forcefully articulate Cole’s last paragraph:

    …Green energy–wind, sun, geothermal– is all around us and does not require any wars to obtain it. Indeed, if we had spent as much on alternative energy research as we have already spent on the Iraq War, we’d be much closer to affordable solar. A choice lies ahead: hydrocarbons, a 20 foot rise in sea level, and a praetorian state. Or we could go green and maybe keep our republic and tame militarism.

    I hope that day comes before I pass on. I’m very frustrated that “the people” are so far ahead of the politicians. Instead, we have entrenched Democrats fearing “the people” storming their gates in the guise of the Lamont/Lieberman matchup.

    Part of it is that the right wants the praetorian state and a bad-ass military, and the Dems cower to this macho lust. The Dems first have to learn to stand up to these bullies before they can lay out a green alternative.

    Elsewhere, Greg Palast reports the real reason why Iraq was invaded – Saddam was jerking the price of oil too much.

    I look at Palast’s reporting roughly in the same way that I look at Cole’s ideas, as a hypothesis. I want to believe what Palast is saying, but wish he’d provide better references to back up his assertions.

  2. Donna  •  Aug 6, 2006 @2:54 pm

    All that is needed to carry out genocide on the Lebanese people is 1]turn away from law [especially God’s laws] and 2] succumb to secondary pleasures to replace the now-lost deep good feeling of living morally [secondary pleasures like power and money and control of others’ resources] and 3]spin, spin, spin the situation to justify [to oneself and the public] the wanton killing by collectively labeling the ‘other side’ as ‘terrorists’ or terrorist sympathizers who somehow ‘deserve their fate’.
    It is noteworthy that most of our leaders are ok with such genocide.

  3. erinyes  •  Aug 6, 2006 @6:07 pm

    Thanks for the post Maha, I’ve been screaming about this for over 2 years, once again I got the “He’s looney” handle.
    All what you discovered is refered to as “The New Great Game”.
    I think Palast’s postulate about keeping Iraq’s oil in the ground in order to keep prices up has merit.If Palast is correct, Hugo Chavez had better watch his ass. Venezuela is sitting on one big assed petro reserve. Venezuela has also made a deal with Russia for weapons and has the support of the Colombian FARC to repel a U.S. invasion.
    Several years ago I stumbled in to a web site called ” the CIA’s greatest hits” Interesting stuff, There were articles about numerous wars including those in Angola, Tibet, and Colombia.
    The common denominator was oil. Anyone who thinks the US invaded Afghanistan to get Bin Laden or Iraq to make the Iraqis free to watch South Park and the Simpsons and have a Mc Donalds and Burger King is delusional. It’s all about Control. The US military is not going to spend billions to get Afghan women out of Burkas and into Merle Norman salons.There’s Oil and Gas in those lands, It’sTHE PRECIOUS.

  4. Anonymous  •  Aug 6, 2006 @8:52 pm

    Noah Feldman has given a brilliant analysis of how Israel’s strategy in Lebanon and Gaza meshes with US moves to foster democracy in the Middle East. As part of their schooling in democracy, the Arabs must learn that their electoral choices have real world consequences. If they vote for Hamas, Hizbollah or similar terrorist groups, then they bear full responsibility for any outrages that these groups commit. Thus they forfeit any right to complain about any retaliatory bombing raids, e.g. Qana.

  5. maha  •  Aug 6, 2006 @9:45 pm

    If they vote for Hamas, Hizbollah or similar terrorist groups, then they bear full responsibility for any outrages that these groups commit. Thus they forfeit any right to complain about any retaliatory bombing raids, e.g. Qana.

    In other words, if they don’t vote the way we want them to, it’s OK to bomb them? And this is how we’re spreading democracy?

    holy shit.

  6. justme  •  Aug 6, 2006 @10:05 pm

    totally bushed up! Yikes… Juan Cole is one smart fellow,,, all Americans should be asking themselves the same questions…

    Holy shit indeed!!!!

  7. moonbat  •  Aug 6, 2006 @11:25 pm

    In other words, if they don’t vote the way we want them to, it’s OK to bomb them? And this is how we’re spreading democracy?

    I think the Soviet Union had the same sort of arrangement with its satellites. Do as we say, or we’ll invade.

    Some democracy.

  8. jh  •  Aug 7, 2006 @11:16 am

    Re: Anonymous’ post

    Collective punishments are war crimes under the Geneva conventions Anonymous.

    I would call you a callous, piece of shit, but that would be stating the obvious.

  9. …now, wait a minute, guys; Anonymous is making a point that we should probably give due consideration:

    If they vote for Hamas, Hizbollah or similar terrorist groups, then they bear full responsibility for any outrages that these groups commit.

    Words to live by. Anonymous points out, while not realizing it, that those voters who turned out for George W. Bush have, in the same fashion as the Palistinians (although his/her/its point is generally weaker with Lebanon), sacrificed any right to complain to the international community if some group, angered by our rather casual killing of innocent civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan, decides to stage an attack on us. By their votes and war support, these Americans have burdened the rest of us, under Anonymous’s construct, with full responsibility for Bushco’s actions, and we have no one but ourselves to blame if the relatives of families raped and machine-gunned in their homes or bombed at their weddings decide to fly a jet liner into Yankee Stadium during an ALCS game. Just like those Lebanese Christians and Sunni’s who didn’t vote for Hezbollah parliment members, we bear the collective guilt. Anonymous clearly has it all figured out…

  10. maha  •  Aug 7, 2006 @12:36 pm

    Anonymous clearly has it all figured out…

    You mean we can round up the wingnuts and ship ’em all to The Hague? Hmmm…