The War for Oil Continues

A Newsweek poll from March 29 indicates that the propaganda coming out of the White House, The Pentagon, and the Department of Defense was working well just one week after the invasion of Iraq began.

President Bush's approval rating rose to 68 percent - not nearly as high as the 86 percent approval that his father had one week into Gulf War I, but higher than it had been in six months.

Why? Because every indication was that we were winning the war quickly and decisively. We suffered negligible casualties - try telling that to the families of the 101 soldiers who gave their lives for this cynical cause - and the Iraqi people loved us, or at least we would like to think they do.

Better yet, 53 percent of those polled said they approve of the way Bush is (mis)handling the economy. "Handling?" I'd say "reckless disregard" and "callous neglect" would be more accurate, if it weren't for the fact that he is "handling" the economy by putting it in permanent war mode - 18 months now - and handing out huge tax cuts to the superrich.

Sixty three percent of those polled thought that the US was right to invade Iraq when it did. Sounds to me like we're witnessing firsthand the consequences of an uninformed, uninterested populace. Interesting sidenote: I'm told that the Germans during the time of Hitler had a similar proclivity for isolation, arrogance and ignorance as many Americans do now. I know, it sounds crazy and paranoid to even suggest that the United States in 2003 is anything like Germany in 1933, but there are other noticeable similarities.

If anyone requires further proof of America's ignorance ... only 62 percent felt the war would cause problems for the US in the Middle East, and only 55 percent were concerned with resulting divisions between the US and its allies.

Now that the third phase - terrorist cells, Taliban & Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein - and 18th month of the war is winding down, many questions still linger. Is this war really about making America safe from terrorism and the bin Ladens of the world? Is it about oil? Is it about geopolitical power and influence? (A Mother Jones article, "" answers these questions quite effectively.) Is it about giving a financial boost to the defense industry through increased federal spending - well over $100 billion since we began the attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan? The answer may be yes to all of the above, although who really feels safer from terrorism now than they did on September 10, 2001?

Jane Bryant Quinn suspects, as do many others including myself, that oil was a big reason for this war.

Oil analyst Charles Maxwell, of Weeden & Co., thinks we're drawing toward the end of the era of surplus oil. In the not-too-distant future, he says, we'll pay higher prices for more limited supplies. Good bets for the future will be companies and technologies that adapt to energy conservation.

When the shortages show up, we'll be even more in the hands of the Middle East, Maxwell says. That's why I think the Iraqi War is mainly a bid for keeping large oil reserves in friendly hands. In her new book, "Leap of Faith," Jordan's Queen Noor recalls the first President Bush telling the king, about Saddam, "I will not allow this little dictator to control 25 percent of the civilized world's oil." From Poppy to son.

Bombs Away on Netscape founder

You don't have to watch FOX News to find supposedly smart people saying stupid things about the war. Take Marc Andreessen, 31-year-old founder of Netscape and now chairman of Opsware Inc., who said this just a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq began:

You look at the people protesting the war and you think, 'I gotta be on the other side.' There are people out there who actually want to kill us, and the appropriate response to that is to kill them. Bombs away.

At least one Chronicle reader was "flabbergasted by his comment":

No wonder Netscape turned to doo-doo; with comments like "bombs away"(on Iraq), Mr. Andreessen displays his ignorance.

Marc, thanks for representing the 63 percent of ignorant Americans. You're not alone.