One of the big reasons typically given for Bush’s staying the course in Iraq is that it’s working out just the way he wants, million-person death toll and all.
The main problem with this as a plan is that Bush, Cheney and their PNAC Platoon buddies, while possessed of both arrogance and a complete lack of ambition-hindering scruples, don’t have the intellectual chops to carry it off.
… The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.
It’s not just that the US — or rather, those oil companies who are Bush’s best friends — would get control of $30 trillion (at minimum) worth of oil. It’s that Bush’s buddies could decide who they want to sell it to. Right now, Russia holds the ace cards in Europe, if not the whip hand, because of its considerable supplies of oil. But once the US got Iraq’s oil pumping at full capacity, suddenly Russia’s hold on Europe diminishes.
But what about China, you ask. Well, China’s power is diminished even further than Russia’s by a US-controlled Iraq:
And think of the United States vis-a-vis China. As a consequence of our trade deficit, around a trillion dollars’ worth of US denominated debt (including $400 billion in US Treasury bonds) is held by China. This gives Beijing enormous leverage over Washington: by offloading big chunks of US debt, China could bring the American economy to its knees. China’s own economy is, according to official figures, expanding at something like 10 per cent a year. Even if the actual figure is closer to 4 or 5 per cent, as some believe, China’s increasing heft poses a threat to US interests. (One fact: China is acquiring new submarines five times faster than the US.) And the main constraint on China’s growth is its access to energy – which, with the US in control of the biggest share of world oil, would largely be at Washington’s sufferance. Thus is the Chinese threat neutralised.
The main problem with all of this is that it assumes that the US doesn’t do anything to cause the Shiites to finally give up on their de facto truce with the American troops and join the Sunni insurgents in attacking us with gusto. However, by pushing for attacks on Shia-ruled Iran, Bush and his fellow PNACers are all but begging the Iraqi Shiites to come and raze the Green Zone and all of the “enduring” super-bases to the ground. (Can you say “Khartoum, 1885” or “Teutoberger Wald, 9 A.D.” or “Dien Bien Phu, 1954“? I knew you could.)