- Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch and speaking at the Lowy Institute on Friday: the Iraq war was an 'episode of US military adventurism gone awry that is best forgotten.'
- China is taking charge in Burma's conflicts with ethnic minorities. (Thanks Milton.)
- Syria: an interesting interview with a fighter from the Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra; note the naivete.
- India has test-fired a land-attack cruise missile from a submerged submarine.
- What Bush got right about Iraq.
- Eurozone: Brad DeLong on the four economic lessons from 1919-39.
- An economist asks, 'Was the Iraq war about oil?':
From a narrowly selfish point of view, it didn't make sense to fight war for oil. Here's where economics kicks in. There is a world market for oil. There is no danger that a country that wants to keep the United States from getting oil can do so simply by restricting sales to the United States. The reason is that it will then want to sell its oil elsewhere. That means that someone who buys that newly freed-up oil will then want to buy less from his suppliers. Those suppliers then have oil to sell and Americans can buy that oil. It's a game of musical chairs in which the number of chairs equals the number of players. The game would be awfully boring, but in international trade, boring is good.
The only way a country's government can hurt the United States using the "oil weapon" is to reduce its own production. But then, that country, unless it produces a huge amount of the world's supply, will hurt itself as well. And that country will hurt its oil-consuming allies and help its oil-producing enemies. I've laid this all out in "Do We Need to Go to War for Oil?"
Now, it's possible that Cheney, Bush, Abizaid, et al were a bunch of economic illiterates. So, again, in that sense, the war could have been about oil even if it didn't make sense to be about oil.