Good article by Victor Davis Hanson in the Chicago Tribune today.
Whatever President Bush is, he is certainly no longer a realist oilman content with the status quo of propping up dictatorial Middle East regimes. Pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia and toppling Hussein while putting Iran on notice--sent shivers up an oilman's spine. After the Americans invaded Baghdad, the price of petroleum skyrocketed, enraging voters back home. America currently pours billions into oil-rich Iraq, rather than siphoning Arab petroleum out. That is why the same critics who once claimed that we were thieves now deride us as dupes....Exactly true. Another reason the fringe left just doesn't get it. Until they're clear on the nature of dictators and terrorists, they never will.
Such an easy slur like "blood for oil" persists because the alternative explanation is apparently unpalatable. After Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush abandoned the realist policies of his past and the Cold War calculus of a half-century by zeroing in on the old pathology of the Middle East: dictators paying off theocrats and terrorists to redirect popular anger at their failures onto the United States.
If Bush's democratic gambit succeeds, the world will be a far better place. But until then as we work on reform in Iraq, let us also conserve, develop new sources and wean ourselves from foreign oil. Promoting democracy also means keeping astronomical profits out of the hands of both failed autocrats and killers. By reducing world demand to weaken the cartel, we will both help poorer nations and restore the financial integrity of the United States.
Those who scream "no blood for oil" would do better to chant "no oil money for bloody terrorists and dictators."