We interrupt this philosophical blogging to state that the smoking gun of the invasion of Iraq has finally been found, adding to the millions of reasons for people to come demonstrate against war in Washington next Saturday.
Why, after all, did President Bush send U.S. troops into the Iraq misadventure? We've all known it had to be something bad. But what?
Some people said it was a psychological flaw of some kind. He felt emasculated by Osama bin Laden and had to prove he was a man somehow. Putting a president on the couch, popular a pastime as it may have become since Richard Nixon, doesn't work. That fact of the matter is that most of us don't know Dubya well enough to psychologize him. Those who do aren't telling.
Other people put it in terms of a Greek tragedy: Bush the Younger avenging Bush the Elder against their nemesis, the evil Saddam Hussein. This doesn't hold water, especially since it's well known by now that George H. W. Bush with Dubya about Iraq; Bush I stopped at the border, where Bush II was imprudent enough to tread.
Of course, let's not forget that Dubya himself isn't making the task of guessing his intentions easy. W is fiendishly clever and he isn't afraid to look stupid to fool his adversaries.
To gauge the intentions of heads of state, one must look at who benefits by a given move and what are the effects and examine their cogency with the leader's goals.
Why did Nixon go to China? To buy his way out of Vietnam.
Why did Reagan begin his 1980 presidential election campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., the site of 1964 murders of three civil rights activists? To wink to the Southern racists whose votes he was courting.
Why has George W. Bush and his Republican Party, the historical standard-bearer of balanced budgets, run up the largest budget deficits ever? To destabilize, and if possible collapse, the financial foundation of all programs devoted to social and economic insurance for middle- and low-income Americans.
So now, fellow analysts, what looks like a plausible explanation for an invasion of a country not even Bush really believed posed a real threat?
Just before Christmas I began to get a glimmer of an answer from an article in Der Spiegel Online, Will Iraq's Oil Blessing Become a Curse? concerning a draft law that would allow foreign companies to keep 75 percent of all revenues extracted from Iraq over 10 years. "By negotiating deals while Iraq is unstable," wrote Joshua Gallu in Berlin, "companies could lock in a risk premium that may be much lower five or ten years from now."
Big Oil sounds a plausible reason. It meshes with Bush's background. It make sense in a world with the diminishing available reserves, of which Iraq has the fourth largest reserves in the world, 112 gigabarrels.
So here it is: Bush sent troops to Iraq to create the circumstances that would allow Western oil companies to lock in huge oil reserves at a bargain price. Bargain, that is, for oil CEOs and board members, who will no doubt give themselves megabonuses as they gouge the public -- and steadfastly block the way to alternative fuels.
Moreover, all the usual suspects are locked in on the deal. The International Monetary Fund is holding creditors at bay, only if Iraq approves this law.
The Iraqi unions oppose the law. The Kurdish regional authority not only opposes it, it's been signing its own agreements.
Maybe that's what the sectarian warfare is about? Not Allah, but oil ahhhs?
Bush wants desperately to change the topic now that 70 percent of Americans oppose his Iraq policy. But let's not let him. Especially now that we need not guess what this has all been about.