paints an enlightening picture of the motivation and the thought process, such as it is, of left's anti-war arguments. He asserts:
"it is hard to dismiss the official reasons for this war as disingenuous without some theory about what the ulterior motive or unspoken war aim might be. George W. Bush is not taking the nation into war to avenge his father or as a "wag the dog" strategy to win re-election, as Bush's more cynical opponents have charged. He deserves more credit than that. Nor is he planning to conquer and occupy Iraq in order to bring human rights to the Iraqi people or start a chain reaction of democracy throughout the Middle East, as he and his supporters have lately augmented the official war aims. He doesn't deserve that much credit."
First off, it is intellectually lazy to dismiss the Domino Theory of Middle East Democratic Reform simply because you don't think Bush is smart enough to come up with it. Despite what Kinsley thinks, neocons have been arguing this point since plans for an Iraqi invasion were first put on the table. Yet let's even assume that this isn't Bush's motivation for attacking Iraq. Why does that make the theory any less persuasive? If Kinsley doesn't believe the liberation of Iraq won't help bring freedom to Iran and Saudi Arabia, fine, but let's hear an argument supporting that position. The motivations of the President for this war are irrelevant to the underlying analysis of whether an invasion will help democratize the Middle East.
But even more interesting is Kinsley's admission that because the left cannot buy Bush's stated rational for the war - WMD, terrorist links, etc - they need to invent their own "unspoken" rational. But why? Can't they simply argue the positive and negative effects that a war might bring? No, and I think Kinsley is admitting as much in this statement. The left can't debate the effects of the war because they know they'll loose that argument. Therefore they're forced to argue the causes for the war, claiming that because Bush has improper motivations for his attack, the action becomes illegitimate.
So what is Kinsley see as Bush's "ulterior motive?" Oil, of course. He recognizes that the left has been all over the map as to how this war is advancing the interests of the big petroleum concerns, so he lays out his view:
"The United States consumes about 20 million barrels of oil a day. Eleven million of those barrels are imported, but 9 million are from domestic oil production. Oil is oil, and when events—a war in the Middle East, or an OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna—affect the price of oil we import from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, it has the same effect on the oil produced in the United States.
In recent months, as America has threatened and prepared for war against Iraq, the price of oil has gone from the low 20s to the high 30s a barrel. American consumers, therefore, are paying an extra $15 a barrel, or $300 million a day, or over $100 billion a year as a "war premium" on the oil they consume. It's like a tax—imposed as a result of government policy—except that the government doesn't get the money. That's before the war even starts, and it is in addition to the $300 billion or so they're saying that prosecuting the war is going to cost directly. Of that $100 billion, $55 billion pays for the oil we import. But $135 million a day—a day—or more than $45 billion a year (minus some taxes) goes into the pockets of domestic oil producers."
Now Kinsley is quick to add that he doesn't "believe that President Bush is prosecuting a war against Iraq in order to enrich, or more accurately further enrich, his oil-patch cronies." You see, this is just his "paranoia" not an actual charge being leveled against the President. So Kinsley spends an entire column laying out an argument that the left's "war for oil" argument isn't unreasonable only to close the column by saying this argument is really impossible to justifiably make against the President. He claims that he cannot support a war based on the democratization of Iraq because he can't give Bush "that much credit," but then proceeds to lay out a "war for oil" argument that he's unwilling to stand by beyond the statement "all this happiness among his buddies must at least make a man like Bush, who is not plagued by self-doubt or a second thoughts in any event, even more confident as he marches forward." Amazing.
If this is the best anti-war arguments the left can put forward, I feel pretty good about my position.