Senator Larry Craig's Senate floor statement on the consequences of destabilizing Iraq - throwing the supply of oil into that mix - is less sweeping or conclusive than some sites are suggesting. The indication is that Craig was saying we're in Iraq because of oil; a reading of his floor statement shows that he didn't say that. (His floor statement in full appears after the jump.)
Some of what he did say was striking enough, though.
Craig is a capable, even gifted, floor speaker, and some of his comments - especially in the earlier sections - wandered and recycled quite a bit. He was quick to say the late-night Senate Iraq debate was political, which of course it was at least in part. He also entered a shot that the Senate was trying to get into battlefield decisions (which it wasn't; it was debating the policy matter of whether the country should be in the battlefield at all). And there was some discussion about veterans legislation, which didn't seem on point to the issues at hand. He reiterated some "cutting and running" rhetoric.
After all that, he found some focus on a serious and difficult question: What happens after departing Iraq? "What happens if we don't find a strategic way out?" he asked. "It is important that we put ourselves in perspective of the world that involves Iraq and its surrounding neighbors. You have heard a lot of rhetoric about the instability, about the role of Iran and certainly what's going on in the north here with the Kurdish population and what Turkey is doing, amassing troops along this border. You've heard about what's going on in Lebanon and certainly the traumatic reality that is happening there. Premature withdrawal from Iraq would risk, I believe, plunging this--that Nation into chaos which could spill over its borders into the gulf region that you see here."
Serious points. From there he moved to this:
Tehran would extend its destabilizing activities to another very important part of the region - Kuwait - and the oil-rich regions of eastern Saudi Arabia along this border here, one of the larger producing oilfields in the region and the kingdom could well fall. And those are the realities we face at this moment that I think few want to talk about. Let's talk about another consequence.
I will put the balance of my statement in the record. But the other
consequence, Mr. President, that we've not talked about is what happens when 54 percent of the world's oil supply goes to risk with a collapse of the region. And this is a reality check that we only talk about in hushed terms, because we don't like to talk
about our dependency on a part of the world that is so unstable.
Not the same thing as saying, "this is why we're there." But it does translate to saying one of the key reasons we're still there is, "because of oil."
And that does provide his Democratic challenger, Larry LaRocco, with the grounds for responding (as he did to New West) with this: "Craig’s silence all along on the Iraq war and his failure to challenge the Bush administration’s failed policies - even after the casualties mounted - led me to suspect there is something else beyond terrorism in his silence. And now we know."