Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shot heard 'round the world

From Alan Greenspan's auto-biography:
"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
That's certainly a kidney punch, eh? One has to wonder if Tony Snow had any inkling of this bombshell before he chose his final day. God help the new Spokeperson in trying to defend this one to Helen Thomas.

The mention of oil is not new. Bush has mentioned it several times, the most famous being his "we are addicted to oil" statement in the 2006 SOTU message. The difference is nobody in the administration has ever described it as "largely about" oil at any time, which represents the bombshell part.

But it's something everyone should understand intuitively. Hitler didn't form and equip his Afrika Korps to conquer the dirt of Tunisia, rather to conquer what was under the dirt of Arabia--juice for his Panzers. FDR sent an geologist to the Middle East during the war who came away with the following assessment:
"The center of gravity of world oil production is shifting from the Gulf-Caribbean area to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf area, is likely to continue to shift until it is firmly established in that area."
FDR, perhaps the biggest liberal of all time, well understood the importance. He eventually sent troops to Baghdad. Yet today's liberals have no capacity for that understanding whatsoever, nor does the media.

The Sunday shows may give a hint as to how team Bush will try to respond. If done poorly it has the potential to topple the whole thing. No doubt Greenspan knew this.

With that, here are a few partisan considerations. One, in the book he reportedly praised Bill Clinton's economic approach towards balancing the budget (old school conservatism) yet claims he was shocked when Slick dipped his pen in Monica Lewinsky ink. Apparently he neither read the papers or watched TV. Pretty tough to believe.

Two, he's married to NBC's Andrea Mitchell, both of whom are good friends with the General Colin Powells. That brings to mind the whole Plame thing, since Mitchell was of course involved in a tangential fashion, at one point saying that all the DC reporters knew Val worked in the CIA yet never having to explain that remark to anyone of substance, much to the chagrin of many on the right. Just something to ponder, there may be nothing there.

The main defense will probably be that he provided no elaboration. The Times of London said:
Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East.
In other words, we're not adult enough to understand the geopolitical power of oil. But he also knew his very construct would be fulfilled by merely saying it, since the predictable reaction would be spun wildly, even by our enemies. It was a parting shot. We'll see if it reaches the bleachers.

MORE 9/16/07

Since we all know Bush's cabinet was "highly compartmentalized" (as evidenced by Ashcroft's comments) it's doubtful a guy like Greenspan would have been privy to high level war discussions. So, as Hot Air says, this is more likely about selling books. After all, his hero Bill Clinton used the same rhetoric about Iraq and threw a few cruise missiles their way, too. We'll see if anyone interviews him about this.

My point was about the fallout. This is a sound bite world. The significance centers around having a person of his stature, a Republican, speaking out, so to speak, which can be used in campaigns and Congress to further political agendas. Especially when we're having protests in the streets and debates in Congress about pulling out troops. So far the comment is not making the waves worthy of Drudge's red headline, so we'll see. It wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong.


Someone did interview Greenspan about his comment, and who better than another Plamegate character, Hollywood Bob. He really knows how to take his own paper to the cleaners:
Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been "essential" to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
So, no problem with Helen, no shot over the wall. I stand corrected. However, after hearing the 60 Minutes interview, today's backpeddle, and his misunderestimation of Bill Clinton's character I'm of the mind that Mr. Greenspan might have been somewhat overrated. That was a pretty tall pedestal, after all.

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