RUSH: Alex in Lincoln, Nebraska, 19 years old, welcome to the EIB Network, sir. Hello. Alex? Testing, one, two. He's gone. Nineteen-year-old kid from Lincoln. His question: Would oil be the same price if there were no Iraq? Hmm. Hmm. It's an interesting question. I wouldn't mind exploring that with him. Be tough to take an event like that out of the marketplace. Of course, you know, "if" is for children. There is an Iraq situation.
RUSH: You are there. Hello there, Alex. Nice to have you with us.
CALLER: How you doing, Rush?
RUSH: Very good. Thank you.
CALLER: Well, I heard you ask my question, so yeah, that's my question: What would oil be these days if we weren't in Iraq with the US in the Middle East?
RUSH: Well, you know, first place, we can't know. And I'm not trying to skirt your question. We cannot know. It's a great question you've asked me because it's a teachable moment.
RUSH: We can't possibly know. Let's say we thought we had the ability to steer hurricanes. But we've never really done it, but we try. Say we got a hurricane headed to New York. And they want to steer it away from New York. New Yorkers want it to hit Washington. So they go out there and they seed the northwestern quadrant of the hurricane with tire bits, which is what some scientists think could steer the hurricane, and let's say the hurricane actually turns and let's say the hurricane turns and hits Washington, and all of a sudden, "Wow, wow, we've actually learned to steer hurricanes." Have we? How do we know what would have happened if we hadn't seeded it? We really don't know if these things will ever, ever work. So, by the same token, you can't go back and say, "Well, what if we weren't at war with Iraq, what would the price of oil be?" It's a nice little theoretical exercise. You'd have to say that maybe there'd be less bellicosity from Iran. But, see, let me answer it this way. Let's take a circumstance, yes, we're in Iraq, and that has really fired up the Saudis, it has fired up the Iranians. The Iranians are in the process of taking over Lebanon with the Syrians.
RUSH: You know, people haven't talked about this because it's not on the radar, but there's a civil war. We're about to lose Lebanon. It's one of our chosen, hoped-for democracies, we're about to lose it because Hezbollah, which is sponsored totally by Iran and Syria are about to overrun it and claim it. So we're going to lose another Middle Eastern state. Well, some might say would that have happened if we hadn't gone to Iraq?
RUSH: No question it would have. Would Ahmadinejad still be rattling sabers if we weren't in Iraq? Would Saddam's oil production facilities have remained in good repair and still putting out oil or not? A lot of these things that we don't know.
RUSH: Do you have a professor asking you this question?
CALLER: I actually, Rush, I thought of this just talking to my father, just kind of dialoguing back and forth after we talked yesterday when you talked about oil dropping, and I talked with him about it, and we've been wondering if Saddam was still in power, compared to now that he's out of power with the United States presence, like different presence in that region since that's the main exporter of oil to the United States, since Brazil has yet to catch up with us, if I heard you correctly the other day. So that's basically it, I did not have a professor ask. I mean, I just got done with school finals, thank the Lord, so, yeah --
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait, I'm not sure I understood. What did you say about who is the largest exporter to --
CALLER: Well, the Middle East right now is the main exporter of oil to the United States; is that correct?
RUSH: No, it's not.
CALLER: It isn't?
RUSH: Canada is.
CALLER: Canada is. Okay.
RUSH: Canada, by far. The Middle East, Saudi Arabia, is number two, Mexico is number three.
RUSH: And it's only recently that the Middle East became number two. Mexico was number two. It's only recently that the Middle East has become number three.
CALLER: Okay. Okay.
RUSH: The better question to ask, Alex -- I'm serious about this -- the better question to ask: Would we need to be dependent on any of this oil from the Middle East if we would simply go get our own, such as in Alaska and off the continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific coast, and the Atlantic coast? If we would go get our own oil -- here's another "if" for you -- would we be dependent on Middle Eastern oil? If we had our own independent oil supply, would the Middle East have the power over us and be as afraid of us and be as concerned? They'd actually be more afraid of us than they are now because they're actually trying to control us with our so-called dependence. There's a lot of ifs that you can ask. But, unfortunately, while they're a fun exercise to go through, play games and figure out what you think the world might look like if this hadn't happened or that hadn't happened --
RUSH: -- the more productive thing to do is to engage in reality --
CALLER: Very true.
RUSH: -- and try to understand what it is about the current reality that is causing various things to happen so that they can be solved --
RUSH: -- and dealt with. What did you and your dad come up with?
CALLER: We actually came up with nothing. He said, "Well, might as well give Rush a call today," and I just got done meeting with one of my academic advisors, so I was like, "Well, fine, I'll call Rush today and see what Rush thinks."
RUSH: Well, I'm honored. I'm flattered. You know off the top of my head, there's so many things, if we weren't in Iraq, then you'd also have to figure out what else wouldn't be happening.
CALLER: Yeah, see, that's what we talked about is that since there's so much going on, there's so many factors that can deal with this that it's so hard to get a good idea of what could happen, so that's one of the big things, is there's so many different areas to think about, kind of like the economy right now.
RUSH: Well, let me give you the short answer based on your "if."
RUSH: If the only thing we're going to change about the last, say, five years is that we never went to Iraq, if that's the only thing in this equation we're going to take out of it, then the oil price would still be what it is.
RUSH: Because the Middle East still hates Israel, and we'd still be defending Israel one way or the other.
CALLER: Very true.
RUSH: The Iranians would still be nuking up, whether we're in Iraq or not. We would still not be producing our own oil, whether we are in Iraq or not. So a number of these factors that are roiling the markets would still be there. I would go so far as to say some people might try to make the case that our presence in Iraq acts as a stabilizing agent on the real unpredictable volatility of that region.
RUSH: So, anyway, it's an interesting question. I mean, normally I don't like "if" questions, but when you are talking about oil and all kinds of people are trying to affix blame to the United States and the Bush administration for the price of oil, then I am willing to tackle it to in some way, meaningful way, deal with conventional wisdom that is dead wrong about who's causing the price of oil to spike and who's benefiting from it and so forth. The world oil market -- I mean China would still be having its raging demand, the nation of India would still be having its raging demand. Just because we've gone to Iraq doesn't mean that other events in the world would not have happened. Hugo Chavez would still be insane. Hugo Chavez would still be trying to consolidate socialist power through as much of South America as he could. Fidel Castro would still be dead for all intents and purposes. Hugo Chavez would be doing what he could to consolidate power there along with Daniel Ortega and his wife in Nicaragua. We would still have liberal Democrats who would be opposing every attempt to become independent in the area of oil production, whether we're in Iraq or not. So I would suggest to you that on balance, the difference in the price of oil would be minuscule were we not there.
RUSH: Hey, Alex in Lincoln? Here are a couple more things, a couple more little things to consider in your question about: Would the price of oil be what it is if we didn't go into Iraq? If we didn't go into Iraq, guess who would still be there? Saddam Hussein. And like Jeremiah Wright, Saddam Hussein is a man who praised 9/11, and he was paying Palestinian suicide bombers $25,000 a pop to blow themselves up on buses in Israel. He was sheltering terrorists. What would the price of oil be in Saddam was still there? Another "if" for you: What would happen to the price of oil if we left Iraq shy of victory? What would happen to the price of oil if we get out of there shy of victory? And maybe a third thing to consider, Alex, in Lincoln: We didn't go to Iraq for oil. Iraq has nothing to do with oil, other than making sure the Iraqi oil fields remain functioning and don't end up in the hands of terrorists. But we went there on the basis of national security and defeating terrorism. We went to Iraq as part of the war on terror. We didn't go there for oil. Happy to help.