One thing that really bothers me is how it often seems impossible to achieve candidness in political dialogue. A great example of this is that I’ve never seen the question of whether or not the war in Iraq is “all about the oil” discussed in an open and honest forum by people who are in positions to make decisions.
Of course, it is a sensitive question, and I imagine that the answer is complex. It seems apparent that US engagement in Iraq has at least something to do with oil, but there are also other legitimate national security concerns, and even humanitarian reasons for the US to be in Iraq. And these concerns existed both before and after the start of the war.
Now, I am of the opinion that the proper response to the mix of resource, security and humanitarian concerns facing the United States before the Iraq war was not to invade Iraq. I’m also of the opinion that most prudent response to the mix of concerns facing the United States right now is not to maintain a large, long-term presence in Iraq. However, I also believe that supporters and architects of the war are honest in replying that it’s not “all about the oil”, and can empathize with their indignation in the face of that accusation. Their motives are certainly more complex.
I think it’s also important to recognize that those who count controlling oil reserves as one reason (but not the only reason) for their support of the war are not necessarily sinister in their motives. Misguided, probably. Fearful, almost certainly. But sinister, maybe not.
Unfortunately, it seems that anger and accusations make honest discussion between different sides uncomfortable and politically dangerous, so honest discussion about these sorts of issues rarely happens, and sides are driven further apart. It’s really too bad.
(All of this said, I’m pretty convinced by the argument presented in the article linked in the article linked above that oil is a primary motivation for the occupation.)