[INSIGHT]Oil Lies at the Bottom of an Imminent War"Why are you looking at just a finger instead of the moon?"
In the imminent Middle East war for which the United States is preparing, there are too many fingers. Terrorists who attacked the United States. The mastermind of the attacks. Countries harboring terrorists. The clash of civilization theory. And so forth. But Zen Buddhism presses us hard to look directly at the primary reason of the imminent war, at the moon of it and not at the finger.
In the movie "Die Hard," starring Bruce Willis, robbers disguise themselves as terrorists who hold a noble political ideal. In truth, these "terrorists" are after cash and securities kept in the vault of a Japanese company.
World War II was a resources war. People once predicted that World War III would be an ideology war between the United States and the Soviet Union, but that prediction is now, of course, wrong. The first reason why war is about to break out in the Middle East has to do with resources. To be specific, oil. The war is not about a religious or ethnic group, though that may change in the future. Mr. bin Laden wants to topple the dynasties of Arab countries that have their own way in oil revenues and waste the money for the extravagance of corrupt royal families so that the Wahhab faction, the Islamic fundamentalists, can occupy and control the oil.
When Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait in August 1990, President Sadam Hussein of Iraq justified the invasion by calling it nationalism, but the real reason had to do with oil. The allied forces led by the United States fought against Iraq in the Gulf War not for the independence of Kuwait, but for oil. Middle East-origin terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11 because the United States has protected the corrupt royal families, the United States' oil trade partners, in order to secure a stable oil supply. The terrorists think, I suppose, that if they keep attacking the United States, some day the United States will retreat from the Middle East and then the terrorists can run the oil fields.
Middle East oil accounts for about half of the world's oil production. That oil controls the life and death of the world economy. The United States and its allies know that the war is unavoidable and they refuse to be defeated because of the oil.
The Middle East sovereignty over oil resources is actually doomed to collide with the current production method of the world economy that depends on oil energy. All oil-importing countries do not want to link this fact to the imminent war.
The United States only emphasizes the fact that it is the direct victim of the terrorist attacks and it calls the imminent war just the invocation of a self-defense power. If we notice there is oil behind the rhetoric, we can understand why the United States and its allies have burned the bridges behind them by forcing all countries in the world to choose to be an ally or an enemy, thus dividing two sides.
There are three plausible ends to this imminent war. Let's suppose that South Korea plays a smart guy and doesn't join the real war. The first plausibility is that the war will end in a short time without a winner or a loser and the oil supply will continue as it has.
The second plausibility is that the war will develop into a prolonged war with the entire Middle East, and that the United States and its allies eventually will win. (Then the United States may try to establish democratic regimes in the Middle East countries after ousting the dynasties, like it did in Germany and Japan following World War II.)
The third plausibility, which is contrary to the second, is that terrorist groups and countries harboring them will win the war.
If the first scenario comes true, neither side will retaliate against Korea. If the second one occurs, the United States will try to exclude Korea from its allied partners. Some American commentators have already dropped Korea when mentioning allies, naming only Japan and Taiwan as the American allies among Asian countries for this war.
If the third scenario turns into reality, Korea will not only face a cut-off of oil supplies, but it is also likely that Korea will become an enemy state of the United States and become a target nation with food as the weapon.
Every drop of oil needed in Korea is dependent upon imports. Korea's dependence on oil for producing various commodities is the highest in the world. Therefore, Koreans have to ask themselves whether they are ready to sacrifice their national economy for the noble cause of promoting justice.
Korea supplies only 25 percent of its grain demand, including grain for fodder, through domestic production. The entire industrial unit of Korea may be paralyzed and the population may fall into a famine in the likelihood of an unreliable future. Hence, we must exercise our options with utmost caution.
The writer is the editor of monthly Emerge New Millennium.
by Kang Wee-seuk