The Iraq War is History

Friday, December 23, 2011

Richard Betts, director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security, places the Iraq War in historical context and looks at other national security issues. 


Richard Betts

Comments [12]

Laila from New York

I must respond to jgarbuz. Yes, oil was an ancillary factor, but the invasion of Iraq had EVERYTHING to do with Israel. Iraq was a secular and economically successful and vibrant country, and therefore a "threat" to Israel which wants to be the sole power in the M.E. That's why all the Neocons (Douglas Feith, Richard Perlman, Paul Wolfowitz,etc. etc.) were in the forefront of pushing for the invasion of Iraq even though Iraq posed no threat and even though this was very bad for America and Americans. As early as in 1996, the Israeli's were pushing for an attack on Iraq and unfurtunaely they found a pretext. Don't believe me, just read the many serious journalists who present facts not ideology, for example Seymour Hersh and other "non-neocons". If you are paying attention, the same thing is now happening with Iran, where Israel and its die-hard supporters have again been beating the drums of war,just as they did before the Iraq invasion, to the detriment of America, as we have seen with Iraq. To make their case, they point to the "threat" of Iran's nuclear weapons, even though Israel has an arsenal of atomic bombs. They are trying to dupe Americans into believing that a country which does not have nuclear weapons (Iran) is a threat, while a country that does have them (Israel) is not. Go figure.

Dec. 26 2011 12:00 AM
Farid Faryar from NJ

I agree with your guest. Oil was only part of the reason for the second Iraq war. Wars are started by people who benefit from it. Find out who benefitted from the war and among them you will have some of the people who started the war Examine hypothetical business cases and you may come close to the answer.
One that I can think of is as follows. For every trillion dollar US spent on the war, the leaders of some industries (intelligence, military, oil including Halliburton) stand to benefit billions of dollars (5 billion assuming 0.5% return).The required investment is zero by the culprits and 100% American people. There are many Halliburtons in the US but only a few are led by people like Dick Cheney.
Some may say American workers benefit from the above business case. I tell them, yes but as a whole, American people paid all the cost and only got part of it back. That is not a good business case and aside from humanitarian reasons the congress should not have supported the war.
How can we prevent this in the future? Use anti-trust law more effectively and limit the size of each company to large enough to be able to compete economically and not politically.

Dec. 23 2011 11:54 AM
Natalie from Brooklyn

Of course, the War was primarily about oil. The leaders were all oil millionaires. One example not given: When they first entered Baghdad, the American troops immediately surrounded the Oil Ministry and ignored all other buildings. The outstanding Museum of Antizuities was ransacked as a result. Prof. Betts is ignoring the obvioua.

Dec. 23 2011 11:43 AM
Ralf from bushwick

This segment is a joke, right? The gentleman has the expert view of someone who was watching CNN and reading the NYTimes very closely. No other insight.

Liberal Empire? Which side is Obama on?

Dec. 23 2011 11:29 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Here's the facts. If the US withdraws into isolationism, there will be 40 more nuclear powers within a matter of two years. Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, all will not stand by and watch China grow as the US brings its carriers back to the coast of the US mainland. And, of course in the Middle East. If threatened countries don't feel that America is at their back, they will all go nuclear, as Israel did when the US did not give ISrael a treaty of alliance in the 1950s!

Dec. 23 2011 11:26 AM
DianaF from Bronx

I think Richard Betts is trapped in the ivory tower. He should speak with some Iraq Vets Against the War to learn why the Iraq war has been a war for oil. And it is simply not true that Big Oil has not gained tremendous advantages in the Iraq oil fields, he should look carefully at the participation of the big US oil companies in the agreements that have been signed. Not outright ownership, but control and huge profits nonetheless.

Dec. 23 2011 11:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Israel had virtually NOTHING to do with the US wars in the Middle East! I remember the Kuwaitis running away and begging the US Congress to save Kuwait! I happened to be living in Israel during the Kuwait Gulf war, when Saddam bombed Israel with Scuds, and the US telling Israel not to retaliate! It was Saddam who in his desire to steal Kuwaiti oil dragged Israel into it, and Israel was not allowed to retaliate. The US got into the war because it threatened its oil supplies and oil prices. The US never went to war for Israel, and I'm sure never will. ISrael will always defend itself by itself.

Dec. 23 2011 11:19 AM
Steph from UWS

Wha-wha-wait! Are you kidding me? Bush went to war for something that wasn't nefarious? Your guest seems to be yet another revisionist.

And for everyone that dispels the understanding that the Iraq war wasn't for oil you are crazy. The "US" control of oil is a misnomer. It is more about BIG OIL which is not always state-based. If Iraq wasn't about oil then why are secure oil fields the only thing functioning in Iraq?

Dec. 23 2011 11:19 AM
Amy from Manhattan

When Pres. Obama was campaigning, he said he'd make sure we'd be as careful getting out of Iraq & Afghanistan as we were careless getting into them. To what extent does Mr. Betts think he achieved this in the case of Iraq?

Dec. 23 2011 11:17 AM

Does Richard Betts actually believe that Bush had any interest in fostering democracy anywhere?! What to make, then, of all the US support for monstrously anti-democratic regimes?

How can we take Betts's case seriously when he endorses so transparently false a line as "Bush supported democracy"?

Dec. 23 2011 11:17 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Your guest is writing revisionist history! First of all, the US got itself involved in LOTS of wars long before the 20th century. After the Revolutionary War, we had the Barbary Wars with the Barbary pirates of North Africa from 1801-1807. The we had the war of 1812. We had the war with Mexico in 1846. Then the Civil War in 1861. The Spanish American war, 1898. World War I, 1914. The uprising in the Phillippines in the 1920s. We've had wars every 20 to 40 years, which is about the same as the Israelites in the Bible :) Nothing has changed.

Dec. 23 2011 11:13 AM
Sarah from UWS

Can you ask your guest if he believes all the media and political speak concerning Iran is warranted? Are we looking at Iran through the same false lens we looked at Iraq?

Dec. 23 2011 11:11 AM

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