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15 October 2009


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"The root cause of your sectarian disputes is access to scant resources."

I'm glad to see that the Colonel is accepting a Marxist interpretation of the conflict. This one seems well founded.

You don't have to be Marxist to see that economic competition is a key driver of conflict.

Stanley henning

This was the kind of information we should have been considering and addressing all along, but as soon as I saw the name Wolfowitz among others I understand why things have gone the way they have.


Excuse the pedantry but sahwa, not sawha.

Interesting. I like the notion of 'high context communicators'. Different country, same idea; I deal with them all day long.


john H

I never said that. I am not an economic determinist and would never say that. On the other hand I do not seny the importance of econpmic interests. pl

David Habakkuk


Arguments between 'idealists' and 'materialists' about causation in social affairs can be productive, but can easily get very silly.

Most commonly, self-interested motivations and commitments to ideals and ideas and ideals are both at play. And, very often, they are intertwined in very complicated ways.


"Interesting. I like the notion of 'high context communicators'. Different country, same idea; I deal with them all day long."

So do I -- indeed, in normal circumstances, I am one.

Unfortunately, higher education as practised in the Anglo-Saxon world often obscures the way that communication characteristically works.

Among the most depressing remarks in Adam Silvermann's excellent post is his citing of Wolfowitz.

It appears that all messages received by him -- and one suspects, many other significant U.S. policymakers -- are received in terms of a filter: Are the senders to be classified as Nazis or not?

As the arguments of the European Thirties and Forties have limited relevance to the Middle East, this is clearly a short route to catastrophic misunderstanding.

Posted by: jr786 | 15 October 2009 at 12:51 PM


I believe Dr. Silverman is from Florida, so he will understand the following analogy:

Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) - lives in freshwater

Crocodylus acutus (American crocodile) - lives in salt-water

Caiman crocodilus (Spectacled Caiman) - has established itself along the Tamiami canal in Miami

When they meet outside their habitats there is usually violence.

Hopefully someone can learn from this and apply it to Iraq.

Excellent post!


Yes, "self-interested motivations and commitments to ideals and ideas and ideals are both at play" in Iraq

I agree. My major point is that the emphasis in Washington, and at this blog, has been exclusively on the role of religion in the conflict. Economic interests have been downplayed, if not greeted with derision or howls of laughter. One economic interest that I have repeatedly highlighted is the role of oil, the prize in Iraq. Among various gangs in Iraq there has been intense competition for control oil smuggling, the major cash resource, but also something vital to daily life.

In fact, when I raised the role of oil in the Iraqi context, I was dismissed for my "marxist thinking" and told to go back to academia, where I have not been for decades, and then only as a student.

So, yes, let's embrace the complexity of self interest and religious affiliation as drivers of conflict. Viewing the real picture, instead of the caricature portrayed by official sources, can only be helpful in developing realistic goals and policies. (Not something the neo conmen were interested in.)

I applaud the Colonel for hosting Silverman's piece.


John H., dont talk about oil, Lang will call you a marxist....nobody covets oil in Lang's world

Mark Gaughan

WAFU = We Are Fucked Up

Mark Gaughan

What's with the spirographs Pat?



I guess you just can't tolerate people who don't accept the party line. pl



Not sure what you mean. pl



Once again, a marxist analysis of history does not make you a Marxist, but that would not matter to you, would it?

Your point is that I am a mindless denizen of the right. Is that not correct?

Does that help in building a case for your IO operation? pl


pl, it is just that I have tried to voice my opinion in your comments section that the Iraq war has had making money from the huge amounts of oil as one of the major motivations for the invasion and it seems to me that you have disagreed with my opinion with a rather contemptuous tone and accused me of being a Marxist....Ive just been surprised by your tone on occasion. I apologize for my impolite tone earlier...I respect this cite and would like to continue participating but I would also like to be able to express my opinion even if it varies from yours. I still think the trillions of dollars of oil reserves has got to have been a huge motivation for Bush and Co. I dont think its Marxist to believe this....it just makes common sense to me that our foreign policy is often motivated by money and Silverman seems to be arguing this point that economics is a key motivating element of the conflicts in Iraq...makes sense to me....


David Habakkuk, the same thing caught my attention. Over here in Germany the use of Nazi, fascist or single people, like Goebbels (e.g. for Gorbatshev) has been the ultimate political fighting term for many, many years now. But both from the left and the right, which tended to be rather confusing. I think it started on the left and made its way into the right as "useful imagery".

But it admittedly set my head spinning in the US context. It's not simply a useful term to slander whatever political opponent but rather a coherent narrative, that in the ME history repeats itself with Israel or "the Jews"/antisemitism providing some kind of danger barometer. It goes something like: if Jews are targeted, its a sign that there will be soon a threat to the whole Western society. Thus: History repeats itself. And antisemitism provides some kind of measurement for the health of society.

It feels to me this misuse of the "clash of culture" (if I trust Stephen Walt) was much more important in the larger context than oil. Oil from the above perspective funds terrorism. In the lower ideological layers it is phrased this way: The Arabs/"camel drivers" sit on the world's oil resources by sheer dumb luck.

Wolfowitz suggested that the Iraqi oil would pay for the war against Iraq. Which ultimately would turn the US army into mercenaries. Thus there obviously must be resistance from within the army, it feels at least to this "curious nitwit".

But this doesn't mean one must deny completely the danger scenario, only the coherent narrative. And no, I don't think it is essentially about oil. But I would still like to be able to take a closer look at Cheney's energy task force. Oil surely matters in the larger scenario.


pl, I dont have a "party line". Im not affiliated with any party, just my own mind.

I never thought you were a "mindless denizen of the right"....honestly...Ive been impressed that you have had the balls to criticize Israel....Im supportive of most of your positions and I love reading this site....I wouldnt read this site if I thought it was a mindless denizen for conservatives.....I just disagree with your position that money is/was not the key motivating force for the Iraq war....Greenspan, General Abizaid are not Marxist and they support my view that oil is the point over there...secure the oil for our use

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