Iraq's holdout on oil sales

This topic has been brought up before, but didn’t get too far because there was a bit too much perceived glee in the OP’s praise for Saddam Hussein.

The refusal to sell oil for one month, after which review of the policy would be done,was a turn many were not expecting. The terms of the refusal are a complete pullout of Israeli forces back to 1970 boundaries (I’m sorry, I’m pulling that year from memory and I can’t really say I remember the year. At any rate, boundaries that existed before Israel’s land grab - but let us not get sidetracked).

Some peopel praised it as a great way to encourage a stop to the violence. Others have said it was a cowardly thing to do.

“Oil isn’t a weapon like a cannon or tank. It’s a resource essential for national economies,” al-Faisal said. “Saudi Arabia will continue supporting the uprising of the Palestinian people and oil will provide the resources for that.”

…said the prince, arguing the policy’s counterproductive nature.

I wondered if the arguments against the policy - saying it’s immoral, that it denies Iraq the ability to look after its impoverished people - were in fact an argument declaring it immoral only because it is oil that we depend on most. Something like, “Oh, that’s so devastating, we’ll call it evil.”

What is the moral argument against the policy, other than denying Iraq the means to feed its own?

I’m hoping I’ll get answers a little more intellectualy inspired than “Because Saddam is an asshole and his plays suck.”

For one thing it may not be as effective as the 1973 stunt.

  1. For it to work, sufficient oil has to be withheld to compensate for Kuwait’s and the Saudi’s excess capacity. That means that Libya and Iran would have to go along. (Maybe Venezuala as well; I can’t remember).

  2. The West uses much less oil per unit of GDP than they did in the 1970s, largely due to increased conservation. (In the US, that trend towards conservation ended in the mid 1980s).

  3. Third world countries, OTOH, still consume oil relatively intensively and will be hit hard. So Iraq is hurting itself as well as Malaysia, Indonesia, Bengladesh, etc.

  4. The Saudis have a bit of budget crunch, now that demographics have caught up with them. So they don’t feel especially cooperative.

  5. And it goes without saying that Saddam is an asshole and his plays suck. :smiley:

OK, a few workability arguments here. All of them very valid. The only new moral argument is that it might hurt economies of OTHER developing countries as well.

I don’t hear them saying anything, though.

I don’t see a moral objection to the policy. If we can punish Iraq by not allowing them to sell all the oil they want, how can we object that they are not selling oil because they want to punish others? That Iraq is acting alone in this also argues well for this policy morally. They are not acting in concert with other oil producing countries, so their actions should not produce the catastropic consequences that OPEC’s actions in the 1970s precipitated. If Iraq wants to express its opinion with economic sanctions, I don’t see how we can object unless we take economic santions out of our repitoire as well.

OK then, you guys. That’s what I thought too. And since I’m not getting a flood of angry “Damn Saddam and his plays,” I guess that’s all I’m gonna get.

What a lame thread. I’m gonna hafta come up with a real scorcher next time…

Two moral arguements against this tactic:
The money that selling this oil would provide could help relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people who the govt. is claiming are dropping like flies from malnutrition and poor health care.
If this raises the price of oil people around the world will have less money to spend on other things, such as food, education, and medicine.
If you couple these two outcomes with the fact that this policy has no chance of working you get a gesture which needlessly causes the suffering of many people. There are many who consider needless suffering immoral.