Oil more precious than truth when it comes to the Middle East   

“When war is declared, truth is the first casualty,” U.S. senator Hiram Johnson (1918).

Just what is the U.S. doing in the Middle East?  The quick answer is that they are out to get the evil Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. That’s an admirable goal but there are other reasons.


President Bush has made it clear that friends of bin Laden are the enemies of the U.S.  If so, why isn’t the U.S. military attacking Saudi Arabia?  Saudi Arabia supports bin Laden through it’s fundamentalist Islamic group, the Whahabi.

The Whahabi supports bin Laden with all the fervour of Afghanistan’s Taliban.  They have both declared a holy war against America.  Except that Saudi Arabia has even more money than Afghanistan to fund the holy war.

Osama bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia, as were one half of those terrorists who died in their attack on September 11.  Saudi Arabia refuses to freeze the assets of bin Laden.

But, you see, there is a greater good in Saudi Arabia that outweighs the evil.   It is oil.  Saudi Arabia controls 25 per cent of the world’s reserves and the U.S. wants most of it.  In war, the truth is not absolute, it is relative.  Oil has the power to negate evil.

President Bush, a Texas oilman firmly believes in the healing balm of oil.  He is prepared to do anything to get it, even drill in the fragile arctic.  Bush’s vision of America is one in which fossil fuels must be consumed like there is no tomorrow.

The truth was a casualty in 1990 when president Bush senior sent  troops into the middle east.  He sent 500,000 troops to save the tiny country of Kuwait from the evil invader Saddam Hussein.

But the U.S. was simply protecting oil interests there.  And the military foray was a popular move for Bush senior.  His approval rating soared to 90 percent.  It’s always popular to bang the drums and rattle the sabers in the face of evil.

Now there is talk by his son, president George W. Bush, of going into Iraq to finish Saddam Hussein.  What is the U.S. doing in the middle east?   Goals, like truths, seem elusive.

President Bush has learned that there is nothing like popularity to shut your critics up.   A group-think mentality has sent reporters and critics to the foxholes.  The result is that the truth is more elusive because it is not being reported.

The only “reporting” is being provided by the U.S. military through their smug press conferences which feature their own videos of their smart bombs pummelling Afghanistan.  There is only one interpretation of the events we see.  No reporters are on the planes to verify what’s going on.

Not that reporters would be likely to report anything but the military line.   “Within I’d say three days of the attack, the media went into a kind of a patriotic insanity,” says John McArthur, publisher of Harper’s magazine.

It’s not surprising.  Many reporters are centred in New York and if they weren’t directly involved in the terrorist attacks, they know someone who was.  No wonder that the instinct of reporters is to hunker down and don’t stick your head up – – you just might get it blown off.   Or get anthrax.

And it’s not just the terrorist threat to reporters life and limb, it’s the verbal arrows that must endured by who speaks against the U.S. war.  UBC professor Sunera Thobani quickly found out what happens when you dare say anything critical of the war effort.

Bill Maher, host of the TV show, Politically Incorrect, learned the same lesson after his comment:  “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly.  Staying in the airplane as it hits a building, you can say what you want about it, is not cowardly.”

Free-thinking Americans who would normally applaud political incorrectness were ready to lynch Maher.   Sponsors threatened to pull out of the show and Maher publicly apologized.

Perhaps there is an absolute truth in all of this, but God only knows and She is not telling.  Both sides claim that God is on their side. There is a relative truth in the Middle East that brings the world’s most powerful to worship.  It is oil.


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