Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Greenspan memoir connects Iraq war to US `thirst' for oil

AFP , WASHINGTON

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, for years an inscrutable seer on the economy, is causing a stir by alleging in his new memoir that "the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Greenspan, who as head of the US central bank was famous for his tight-lipped reserve, is uncharacteristically direct, also accusing US President George W. Bush of abandoning Republican principles on the economy.

"I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows -- the Iraq war is largely about oil," he wrote in reported excerpts of The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, which was to be released yesterday.

He tells his own tale of nearly two decades at the helm of one of the world's most powerful financial institutions, and includes surprising swipes at the Bush administration.

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, while explaining his "respect" for Greenspan, rejected the charge that a thirst for crude explained the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.

"I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don't believe it's true," he said on Sunday.

"I think that it's really about stability in the Gulf. It's about rogue regimes trying to develop weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Members of the US Congress, who by a broad majority also voted to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, also dismissed Greenspan's assertion.

"I don't believe that 77 United States senators on a broad, bipartisan basis would have authorized the use of force ... if it was only about oil," Republican Senator John Cornyn told CNN.

"This is about our national security and not just about oil," he said.

Greenspan writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb "out-of-control" spending while the Republicans controlled Congress.

According to the Wall Street Journal, he says that Bush's failure to do so "was a major mistake."

Republicans in Congress, he writes, "swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither."

"They deserved to lose" last year's elections when the Democrats retook control of Congress, he adds.

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