Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, did say the Iraq war is "largely about oil" and that American interest in the Middle East is all about ensuring enough oil flows to run the U.S. economy, according to excerpts of his new book quoted widely today and this weekend. But he didn't say that oil was the Bush Administration's reason for going to war -- only that oil was reason enough for him.
"The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," is Greenspan's memoir, and he seems to know how to sell a book -- by dropping bombshells in the days before it is published. He backpeddled a bit in an interview with the Times, saying that oil wasn't the motive for war, but that removing Saddam Hussein from power will benefit the world economy by eliminating his control over some of the world's biggest oil reserves.
His statement still emphasizes the critical nexus between fossil fuels, national security, economic health and global warming -- though his analysis did not include the latter. With politicians worried over "energy independence" and some analysts saying the world is at or near "peak oil" -- when it has pumped as much cheap easy crude as it can, and when the remaining oil will trickle in at great expense -- the political and economic importance of Middle East oil is a function of a tight and volatile supply.
Energy independence is the fulcrum on which national security, a stable climate and a strong economy can turn in the future. War is only one way -- and certainly not the easiest or best way -- to ensure the country has enough energy to fuel its economy.
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