What is more unacceptable than the argument that Iraq become the "Strategic Petroleum Reserve" (Commentary, March 23) for the U.S. because the world owes us, when this argument comes from former U.S. Energy Secretary John Herrington? He claims that the U.S. goes around the world with a "kick me" sign and that the world takes advantage of its largess through the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, foreign aid and the U.S.-led wars of liberation (Germany, Japan, Kuwait). This is supposedly the basis for which the world must provide reparation, in the form of Iraq's oil. Independent of the ridiculousness of the idea that organizations like the IMF and the World Bank exist to provide charity, the world obviously does not see us as a victim. Big, bad bully is more like it.
The commentary by a former secretary of Energy in the Reagan era was a revelation. He suggests that U.S.-controlled oil production in Iraq will be sufficient to offset Saudi Arabia and its OPEC partners' ability to control world supply and price. His is a far more credible reason for invading Iraq than the flimsy story about making the world safe from Saddam Hussein.
Herrington's suggestion that Iraqis pay for their liberation by turning their oil fields into a U.S. strategic oil reserve is outrageous. The resulting "market price" for oil would be no more freely determined than the one set by OPEC. The U.S. would be engaged in its own price manipulation. Public opinion in the Middle East is already deeply suspicious of U.S. motives.
If the U.S. wishes the world to perceive it as working for the common good and not as an imperialist exploiter, it should foot its own bills for liberating other nations. Americans, as well as the world, benefited from eradicating Nazism and fascism in World War II and from the rebuilding of Europe and Japan. Removing Hussein from power is in the U.S.' own best interest. The U.S. did not go into Iraq for oil, yet that is what Herrington reduces it to.
When I read Robert A. Lerche's letter (March 25) in response to Herrington's column, I wondered if we had read the same article. Herrington wants a "strong representative government in Iraq" -- not that we simply "rule Iraq for our own benefit," as stated by Lerche. Extracting Iraq's oil to serve U.S. interests is an inaccurate portrayal of Herrington's recommendation, which is that oil revenue derived from "sales to the U.S." should provide "wealth to benefit Iraq's people." Herrington suggests a sound proposal for dealing with a post-Saddam Iraq.
Daniel D. Berger
Compliments for printing Herrington's terrific column, in effect liberating America from OPEC extortion, rebuilding Iraq and restoring its potential in the world community and slamming the Iraqi door on France, Germany and Russia.
The name for President Bush's war, "Operation Iraqi Freedom," has a ring to it, but as my son pointed out the other day, "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) has a more truthful sound.
After nine months overseas, and the 9/11 tragedy, my family has chosen to protest violence and the war by continuing to change our lifestyle even more, by reducing our consumption on natural resources, namely oil and water. We have invested in solar panels for our home, traded in our SUV for an electric zero-emission car and a hybrid Toyota Prius for longer trips. We ride the bus (which is not easy), bicycle and walk more to do errands and modify our landscape with drought-tolerant plants.
I hope that all the well-meaning war protesters would take some time to focus on what they hope to achieve and how they can contribute afterward to promote world peace. The sign "No Blood for Oil" is meaningless if you drove your gas guzzler to the protest site.
Re "With War, Africa Oil Beckons," March 21: On the one hand, we are at war with Iraq under the guise of liberating the people from an evil tyrant and protecting ourselves from presumed weapons of mass destruction, while on the other hand we are wooing an evil tyrant for his oil and ignoring Cameroonian President Paul Biya's own human rights abuses. Go figure. Does this mean that 10 years from now, when our oil interests in Cameroon are threatened, we can depose Biya under the guise of liberating an oppressed people from an evil tyrant?