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"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


Our Successful Middle East Policies

Andrew J. Bacevich, in an article for The American Conservative, discusses the failure of U.S. policies in the Middle East over the years. He makes several good points, referencing such bumbling schemes as Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise to protect the House of Saud, John F. Kennedy's CIA-assisted coup to bring the Ba'ath Party to power in Iraq, and Ronald Reagan's embarrassing Iran-Contra plan.

But what if these policies weren't as hare-brained as they seemed? What if they achieved exactly what they were supposed to achieve?

Robert Higgs argues that very point in his open letter response to Professor Bacevich, entitled The Real Purpose of U.S. Mid-East Policies:
    As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent "failed" policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.

    When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Okay, so I guess one other successful aspect of our intervention has been, as Rush Limbaugh and other big government "conservatives" put it, to maintain "the free-flow of oil at market prices":
    But the U.S. military presence in the Gulf serves not to ensure that the oil keeps flowing; it merely ensures that U.S. corporations (oil and weapons companies in particular), banks, insurance companies, and so forth will be the specific parties raking in the profits from dealing in the Gulf oil. If they didn't do these jobs, the jobs would still get done, but they would get done by the efforts of other firms (European, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth), which is precisely the point: U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East serves the purposes of specific U.S. economic entities, which in turn more or less control the policies by the way they exercise their financial muscle in U.S. politics.
So, maybe we shouldn't write off the Iraq war as a failure so quickly. If we follow the money, those who benefit the most from it might argue that it has been a resounding success.

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Blogger Sean Scallon said...

This is a very good article and shows what's really behind the difficulties of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Too many people are making too much money. The current debate is not about withdrawl at all, it's about "repositioning."

What is need more than anything is a figure who will question the military-industrial complex. Ron Paul is that man

2/6/07, 1:23 PM  

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