Depending on Oil

No short-term prospect that US or world can wean itself off oil.

Published: 08-Jan-2003

Is the US really after Iraq's oil, rather than Saddam Hussein's weapons? Some people believe this must be the case. Otherwise, they argue, why would President George W. Bush deal so lightly with North Korea, which has confessed to building nuclear weapons, and come down so heavily on Iraq, which has not threatened its neighbours for the past decade?

Perhaps Mr Bush has some designs on Iraqi oil. But the idea that this is the main motive for an attack on Baghdad is fanciful. The reality is the US is condemned by its extravagant lifestyle to remain dependent on oil from far more than one Middle East producer.

Launching a war against Iraq could expose that dependence. If oil prices rocket - and the disorder in Venezuela has already raised them - it could be a serious setback to the US economy and with it Mr Bush's chances of re-election in 2004. It is arguable that the rise in oil prices that accompanied the last Gulf war tipped the US into the recession that cost his father a second term.

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