Why didn’t the Greens support the Iraq War?
January 29, 2010
Eee, it takes me back. I remember a soggy Hyde Park back in 2003; a carnival of hippies, socialists and proto-middle-class students all railing against the mooted invasion of Iraq. I remember chanting, “No blood for oil! Leave Iraqi soil!”, and other variations on a theme, catching my breath only when the Palestinian brigade launched into a chorus of ‘Hitler was right!’. It was all dreadfully earnest and well-meaning, and I think perhaps one of the few times this millenium when people genuinely thought government might listen to them.
Of course, we were wrong, and today Tony Blair will once again reaffirm that he still thinks he did the right thing. On this I can’t really blame him; if I was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, I’d probably develop a blik such that I did the right thing, too.
However, there’s an issue I’d like to raise – partly to bait Stalinists, but also because it’s something I’ve yet to see brought up at any point during the climate change debate. It centres on control of oil reserves.
Iraq’s proven oil reserves stand at 112 billion barrels. That’s 35.5 billion tonnes of potential CO2 emissions, right there. Now, whoever controls those reserves controls where they go and what’s done with them. Obviously, both Saddam and our valiant Western forces were both interested in flogging them off, but consider an alternate possibility: putting them beyond use.
Far more efficient than convincing people to reduce emissions is to remove the possibility of them producing those emissions in the first place. I’m surprised that destroying fossil fuel reserves isn’t on the Green agenda at all; it would completely eliminate the possibility of dangerous climate change while forcing the world to shift to utilising zero-carbon technologies.
I’m not entirely clear how one could destroy oil reserves without burning them; perhaps by dropping a low-yield nuclear device into an oilwell to irradiate its contents and render them unsafe to use. However it’s done, in order to do it one needs to control those reserves, and this brings us back to the subject at hand: to be serious about combatting climate change, the Greens also need to be serious about acquiring control over the causes of CO2 emissions. Given that they’re already willing to trample on individual freedoms to pursue their agenda (see: every right-wing rant about eco-fascists, everywhere), it would appear to be a logical extension of their platform to advocate war on oil-producing nations.
Even though the protest at Hyde Park failed, the influence of the Green movement over British politics, as limited as it is, is significantly more than it ever had over Saddam. Therefore, its interests were better served by British control over Iraq. I can’t therefore see why the Greens opposed the Iraq War, unless they’re willing to concede that their platform is incoherent.