Democracy Now has the transcript up from an extraordinary interview with Alan Greenspan — wherein author Naomi Klein and Greenspan have a sort of mini-debate on a number of issues. Really extraordinary stuff, because the backtracking and dissembling from prior public comments on Greenspan’s part is right on the surface the entire interview.
Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine, will be featured in the FDL Book Salon on November 18th. I highly recommend reading it, and this excerpt from the Democracy Now interview will show you why that is:
…AMY GOODMAN: Alan Greenspan, let’s talk about the war in Iraq. You said what for many in your circles is the unspeakable, that the war in Iraq was for oil. Can you explain?
ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. The point I was making was that if there were no oil under the sands of Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have never been able to accumulate the resources which enabled him to threaten his neighbors, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. And having watched him for thirty years, I was very fearful that he, if he ever achieved — and I thought he might very well be able to buy one — an atomic device, he would have essentially endeavored and perhaps succeeded in controlling the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, which is the channel through which eighteen or nineteen million barrels a day of the world eighty-five million barrel crude oil production flows. Had he decided to shut down, say, seven million barrels a day, which he could have done if he controlled, he could have essentially also shut down a significant part of economic activity throughout the world.
The size of the threat that he posed, as I saw it emerging, I thought was scary. And so, getting him out of office or getting him out of the control position he was in, I thought, was essential. And whether that be done by one means or another was not as important, but it’s clear to me that were there not the oil resources in Iraq, the whole picture of how that part of the Middle East developed would have been different.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined in studio by Naomi Klein, author of the book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Your response to that, Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?
ALAN GREENSPAN: No. What I was saying is that the issue which, as you know, most people who were pressing for the war were concerned with were weapons of mass destruction. I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn’t. But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The US invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.
ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No, I’m fully aware of the fact that that is a highly, terribly important issue. And as I said in other commentaries, I have always thought the issue of what essentially amounts to what is often called pre-emptive, preventive action on the part of some countries to secure resources or something else like that, it’s an issue that goes back to the Cold War, when we had the very difficult moral dilemma of what do you do when you think a missile is coming in our direction and you’re not sure whether it’s an accident or not an accident. And that is a problem which I think is a deep moral problem in civilized society. And the issue is one which I don’t think we’re going to resolve very easily. And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole….
Do take a peek at the entire interview transcript or, better yet, listen to it so you get all the inflections and pauses. It is awfully illuminating on a lot of levels, and the sort of interview that I would love to see more of by journalists everywhere. (Not exactly holding my breath, though…kudos to Amy Goodman for putting this together.)
Kevin Drum asked earlier what Greenspan is really saying about the Bush Administration and Iraq, and after listening to the entire interview, I’m still not certain that even Greenspan has his talking points straight. For some more background on Greenspan’s legacy, do read Ian’s fantastic piece if you haven’t already. And take a peek at these thoughts from William Greider as well. Lots of questions still to come…would that more people were asking them.
PS — Please keep those calls going on the Von Spakovsky nomination. Thanks all!
(Graphic via Comandante Agi.)