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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Babysitting The Oil

Permanent FOBs

Steve Benen at Crooks and Liars calls to our attention an op-ed in the Washington Post by one Stephen Biddle, in which he makes the case for a complete withdrawal from the Iraqupation. He argues credibly, in practical terms, that there is no compromise position on the occupation - either be all hawkish and maintain a large U.S. presence there (as if we could afford that), or just pull the hell out altogether.

Now, I have always argued that, all practical, credible, and realpolitik aspects aside, we should get the fuck out of there for sheer moral reasons. Morals do matter, right? OK, I'll play for awhile, but I am going to get back to that.

Matthew Yglesias:
Stephen Biddle makes the point that while withdrawing some troops and leaving many behind to continue training makes a certain amount of political sense as a compromise, it's nonsense on the merits. If you're going to have a whole bunch of troops in the country, you need enough troops to make a difference. Withdrawing tens of thousands of Americans is only going to leave the tens of thousands who remain in a more dangerous and fundamentally untenable position. If we want to withdraw troops -- and we should -- we need to get essentially all the way out.
Problem here is, as I see it, that these practical arguments fall flat if one takes into account those nefarious permanent bases, which the nutjob elites have all intention of maintaining and manning, all for the sake of securing Middle East resources (oil), which requires a hulking and imperial presence. These folks, who control "the greatest military evah", are completely serious about staffing these bases with thousands of troops to secure the perimeter from the troublesome brown people who happened to have spawned there (goddamned natives!), and to give the corporate oil interests some semblance of order so they can go about their business.

More on permanent bases from Global Policy Forum.

I think I see what Karl Rove means when he says that, by the time the 2008 elections roll around, there will be a reduction of troops which will mollify the voters. They fully do intend to have a dramatic draw down. But, watch for where the remaining troops are assigned. They will be assigned to the latest outposts of the Empire.

This is why the moral position is the only position. Regardless of the fact that the expense of such an adventure will ultimately bring the United States to her knees (a practical fact), these delusional greedheads will stubbornly proceed with these plans until all is in tatters.

It is up to us, the people, to howl loudly and often against the immorality of this situation. Debating practical matters just keeps this in just enough limbo to enable them to complete their intentions, and if you think it's tough to contemplate "redeployment" now, wait until all of the oil contracts are settled, and our troops are seen as "necessary" for "national security" (economic) interests.

At roughly five percent of the Earth's population, consuming roughly 25 percent of the non-renewable energy resources of this world, we are doing nothing less than evil, in the name of "national security."

Get out now. There is no compromise position.


  1. Bartenders Are People TooJuly 12, 2007 at 10:08 PM

    Petro, while I do not deny that morals matter, isn't there an argument to be made that practical reasons are more sound?

    After all morals are, by definition, on a sliding scale. One (not this one, but there are ones) could make the case that morally we should have gone into Iraq in the first place to get rid of Hussain. He was a very very bad man, one who did not deserve the uniform he wore, much less the country he ran. Am I in any way shape or form defending the war, of course not, it was a massive mistake, and continues to be a massive mistake, but morally getting Hussain out of power made sense.

    Practically of course, it was, is and will continue to be a nightmare. There was never a plan as far as what to do after we did the "morally right" thing, and even if there had been there really doesn't appear to be any way it couldn't have been anything except the current Iraqupation.

    Back to the point though, and that is that while I agree with you that the current incarnation of this war is morally wrong, aren't practical arguments more compelling, and less defendable, than moral ones?

  2. OK, here's our disconnect.

    ...morals are, by definition, on a sliding scale...

    Only if you define them that way, I suppose. When I speak of morality, I speak of that which is by my definition untouched by any relativism.

    For example, it is simply inexcusable to view life as expendible towards any goal. Life is what we are here for. Even if you buy into the deception that there was some altruistic motive to free the Iraqi people from a despot, one does not "shock and awe" a population. I wager that the victims of that campaign weren't counting on liberation from mortalitiy itself.

    That said (and as my post unquestionably asserts), we are there to secure the last large deposits of oil in the world, for selfish reasons. There is no "sliding scale" of morality here.

    Finally, I indict "practical" thinking because it is always preoccupied with a goal - like, say, securing the last large deposits of oil in the world.

    Now, if you feel that taking oil in the interests of "national security" is A-OK, then of course it makes sense that you would find practicality more "sound" than morality.

  3. Bartenders Are People TooJuly 12, 2007 at 11:26 PM

    No way. That is not what I'm saying at all. Do I agree that the real motives for this war were (in order) oil and a grudge, 100%. And I understand that offing Hussain was, in Georgie's mind, simply an opening to get to the real motives.

    What I'm saying is that, in the same way that you want that 'perfect' Presidential candidate, wouldn't perfectly practical reasons for a complete withdrawl, which I certainly would love to see, make a stronger case than moral ones?

    ...okay, now that I'm thinking about it I guess perfect morals would be even better than perfectly practical reasons...

    But let's ignore that for now. Real world it for a second morals are likely very very different than the morals of a Health Insurance CEO. Therefor making a moral argument to that Health Insurance CEO would be running into a wall over and over...I've done that, it was most of my 20s.

    On the other hand wouldn't a practical argument be harder for that CEO to argue with? While that CEO could simply say, "I disagree, my morals say that denying a surgeon coverage to repair his hands is perfectly acceptable" would the practical argument "But he could save your life with those hands" (or more likely "But he could make you a lot of money with those hands") be more difficult for the CEO to disagree with?

  4. Oh, I agree that making the moral argument more frequently than not runs into a wall. That is because what is moral has no relationship whatsoever with what is practical.

    Just because a person claims, "my morals", doesn't mean that there's any morality involved at all. Usually, the person means custom, adopted ethic, "best practices" in business, etc. I call people who assign such things to morality "confused."

    Your argument that practical arguments would have more sway with such an individual is compelling, but the truth of the matter is that such arguments go on and on, with no resolution, without the touchstone of "what's right" (morality). Then there is no argument. There is only unblinking truth, waiting for others to stop the chattering, and return the glance.

    We always actually know what is right - it's just terribly convenient to bargain with that for our own gain or safety. At our peril, need I say.

    Now, what I said earlier is that what is moral has no relationship whatsoever with what is practical. Curiously, though, taking the moral route unerringly manifests, in the long run, the practical route. There are good reasons for that, but that's outside of the scope of the comment thread.


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