Do we also plan to rape the women and sell the men into slavery?

From Newsday:

Plan: Tap Iraq’s Oil

U.S. considers seizing revenues to pay for occupation, source says

Bush administration officials are seriously considering proposals that the United States tap Iraq’s oil to help pay the cost of a military occupation, a move that likely would prove highly inflammatory in an Arab world already suspicious of U.S. motives in Iraq.

Officially, the White House agrees that oil revenue would play an important role during an occupation period, but only for the benefit of Iraqis, according to a National Security Council spokesman.

Yet there are strong advocates inside the administration, including the White House, for appropriating the oil funds as “spoils of war,” according to a source who has been briefed by participants in the dialogue.

“There are people in the White House who take the position that it’s all the spoils of war,” said the source, who asked not to be further identified. “We [the United States] take all the oil money until there is a new democratic government [in Iraq].”

“Spoils of war”? Isn’t that sort of … unfashionable? I thought it went out of style along with cavalry charges. What century are these people from?

As to “seizing revenues to pay for occupation”: the technical term, I believe, is “looting.”

Thanks to Jeanne d’Arc for the pointer.

[Kevin Drum also saw this before I did, and has some comments. The Agonist is also on the case.]

One of Sean-Paul’s readers finds it strange that some people who regard war, and the casualties resulting therefrom, as legitimate, regard looting as illegitimate. The seeming contradiction isn’t hard to explain: it’s simply the difference between killing someone who is threatening to kill you, and stealing his wallet afterwards. The killing might be justified, if the threat is imminent. The theft is never justified, because the wallet isn’t yours and even a justified killing doesn’t make it yours. Moreover, if you steal the wallet onlookers will have reason to doubt whether you were really defending yourself rather than committing a robbery-murder.

It may be significant that Kevin and Sean-Paul, both liberal supporters of war with Iraq, and I, a liberal supporter of war with Iraq about half the time, have all picked this up, while — to my knowledge — no conservative or libertarian warblogger has noticed the story.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com