Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, October 14, 2002

On this morning's Radio National Breakfast Auntie's pet hard-line Marxist, Scott Burchill, was called in to repeat the lesson that -I know you've already got this by heart -

It's all about OIL!

But, this time, in what Uncle predicts will be a trend towards more cautious promulgation of communard views, he was joined around the virtual table by two others: an energy expert, and a US commentator whose introductions I missed.

The result? A total, blood-spattering, massacre.

The scene: Burchill recites the catechism; the US needs the oil for economic reasons. High prices are hurting. Bush can't afford to let the French and the Russians get control of Iraq's gigantic oil reserves. Ergo, War! Not for security reasons, because the US supported Saddam before Kuwait.

Problem 1. The US oil industry has never liked sanctions. (A problem if you think Bush a puppet of US oil). You want to cut oil prices, the cheapest way is to lift sanctions.

Problem 2. The Bush Republicans were critical of sanctions pre-September 11th. What changed on September 11th? You haven't noticed?

Problem 3. The positions of the French and Russian sanctions-busters have been guaranteed by the US.

Problem 4. The Iraq oil industry has good relations with US oil, seems to prefer dealing with them, and will need US capital and know-how to develop, on top of what the French and Russians have to offer.

The Burchill solution? Well, the US actually wants to stop oil getting too cheap, not good for oil company profits I presume, so it needs the control more than the oil.

You can see why it's better to let your pet commentators perform solo.