May 3, 2008

McCain, Middle East Oil, And, Uh, What's Up With That Pipe?


My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will — that will then prevent us — that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.

— John McCain, May 1, 2008

My friends, I thought the latest cover of “ARMY” was interesting even before McCain suggested we went to war over oil.  (A reader sent this to me on Tuesday, and McCain put his foot in his mouth on Friday.)

There was only one problem, however.  My reader assumed this was an oil pipe, but I’ve been burned enough times in making assumptions that I was taking nothing for granted.  The complicating factor, though, was that the magazine also failed to specify.  (In possession of the hard copy, my reader scanned the cover with ARMY’s description of the cover affixed to the lower-left corner.)  Because the magazine’s website wasn’t any more helpful, I did some image searches on oil pipelines.  I found several cross-sections that looked almost identical to the picture above, but I still wasn’t convinced.

Then, having expressed my initial reservations to my reader, he wrote back a day later with more information.  Being familiar with the DOD website, he had searched there and found the image.  Even more satisfying, however, was the accompanying caption. Here’s the link, but if it ever goes dead in the future, here’s the caption that accompanied the same shot above:

Water Vital in Arid Iraq. Pfc. Mike Skirkanion, from 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, provides security at a water access point in the Taji Qada, Iraq.

Still, even with that cleared up, what I couldn’t help wondering was: how come “ARMY” — given the photograph’s intense political loading — left out any mention of what kind of pipe this was?  I mean, was it possible their readership would automatically recognize this as one type, and not the other?

Which brings me back to McCain.

Yesterday, in damage control mode, McEloquent tried to reframe his original statement to reflect that oil is just one of a multiplicity of factors that might justify U.S. military involvement in the Middle East.  To me, therein lies a good explanation for why the type of pipe might be left unmentioned.  Because, between guarding a water pipe and invading Iraq to protect our “crudest” needs, it certainly is the best (neocon) strategy to keep our most self-serving interests squarely on the table while leaving our intentions fundamentally ambiguous.

(h/t: Bart)

(image: Tech. Sgt. William Greer, April 03, 2008. Taji Qada, Iraq.  “Magazine of the Association of the United States Army.”  May, 2008.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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