Of course it was! But it’s nice to hear an honest assessment from Greenspan.
Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, syndicated on Air America Media and XM Radio, scored an interesting interview with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who had until this interview been back-pedaling a bit on his sensible comments that the Iraq War was mostly about oil.
While Cenk gets on to an interesting course pondering the moral equivalence of Saddam Hussein attacking Kuwait for resource control to America doing something similar with Iraq (though I personally believe that that neat and compelling comparison doesn’t fit reality — the reasons for attacking Iraq were more complex than that), the real value of the interview lies in Greenspan’s despair that Americans seemed so willing to sacrifice their own civil liberties in some bargain for greater security as well as his emphasis that Iraq matters more in the scope of American interests because oil lies beneath it.
From the exchange between Alan Greenspan and Cenk Uygur:
Cenk Uygur: That brings us to the moral question at hand. Because if we’re concerned about our standard of living, we’re concerned about our economy, we’re concerned about natural resources, and Saddam says, “Well, look, I went into Kuwait because I wanted to control the natural resources,” and we say, “Well, we went into Iraq because we want to control the natural resources,” does that raise issues of moral equivalence? And is it right that thousands of civilians, maybe hundreds of thousands of civilians, died in Iraq because we were concerned about natural resources that effected our economy?
Alan Greenspan: Well this is a very fundamental, moral question. I agree with that. Indeed, I’m one who’s a firm believer in civil liberties and believes in democracy and all of the institutions of the rule of law. And this is a problem that societies always have had over the years. I didn’t like the fact, for example, that right after 9/11, there was an extraordinary swing in this country willing to give up issues of civil liberties for national security.
And when you extend that beyond the immediate present, that’s where the motives of lots of people come to try to secure themselves. Now, I’m not saying that’s a reason that anyone has the right to go into other governments of other countries. You know, if someone wants to use the resources as they see fit, we have to deal with it as we do.
But I was merely raising the issue that why there’s such a fundamental issue around the Iraq war is that there is oil under the sands. And I’m just saying, without getting into the other issues you raised, which I frankly don’t exactly disagree with you on. If oil did not happen to exist in Iraq, the issues of Iraq and the Iraq war would have come about wholly differently. And I don’t think there would be a war, frankly. I think that Saddam would not be a crucial player in the world.
This is just a portion of the interview. Cenk Uygur reports that the rest will be up tomorrow.
— Steve Clemons