Imperialism doesn't pay. Of course, it never did for the common folk recruited to invade another country, or the natives they conquered. But still, the thought persists that occupying foreign lands -- particularly as in the case of Iraq, soaked in oil as well as blood -- is a winner.
True, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, with its nonexistent WMDs and virulent hostility to the religious fanatics that attacked us on 9/11, was a false target for a war on terror. And yes, a Shiite-run Iraq is now closely allied with co-religionists in Iran and Lebanon, whereas Hussein had once been our ally in containing the power of the ayatollahs. But "we" now control Iraq's vast oil reserves, some hawks will still argue in the manner of the idiot savant Paul Wolfowitz, who as then-deputy defense secretary promised that the oil would pay for the war. Only they, like he, have once again been proved wrong.
That myth of wealth following the flag can finally be put to rest with the report in Sunday's New York Times headlined "China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom." What the Chinese have demonstrated is that in the modern world, to the conquerors do not go the spoils. The United States has spent well over $3 trillion on its Iraq War, while suffering and inflicting much mayhem. Yet it is the studiously neutral government of China that has most clearly benefited from George W. Bush's folly. Beijing refused to play the militarist's game but coolly picked up the winner's prize.
"Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world's top oil producers," the Times reports, "and China is now its biggest customer." Almost half of Iraq's oil production already is shipped to China, and those once vilified commies, reincarnated as today's robber barons, are bidding for an even larger stake in Iraq's oil field production. The Cold War is indeed over, but China's red capitalists have won.