Friday, March 12, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson

It has now been almost a year since the liberation of Iraq, the fury of the antiwar rallies, and the publicized hectoring of Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Sean Penn, and other assorted conspiracy freaks — and we have enough evidence to lay some of their myths to rest.

I just filled up and paid $2.19 a gallon. How can that be, when the war was undertaken to help us get our hands on "cheap" oil? Where is the mythical Afghan pipeline when we need it?

"No Blood for Oil" (never mind the people who drove upscale gas-guzzlers to the rallies at which they chanted such slogans) was supposed to respond to one of two possibilities: American oil companies were either simply going to steal the Iraqi fields, or indirectly prime the pumps to such an extent that the world would be awash with petroleum and the price for profligate Western consumers would crash.

Neither came true. Iraqis themselves control their natural resources; the price of gasoline, despite heroic restoration of much of Iraqi prewar petroleum output, is at an all-time high.

So did Shell and Exxon want too much — or too little — pumping? Was the Iraq conspiracy a messy crisis to disrupt production as an excuse to jack up prices, or a surgical strike to garner Third-World resources on the cheap to power wasteful American SUVs?

The truth is, as usual, far more simple. The United States never did intend to steal or manipulate the oil market — not necessarily because we are always above such chicanery, but because it is nearly impossible in a fungible market under constant global scrutiny, and suicidal in the Byzantine politics of the Middle East.

On target, as usual.