claims Iraq war was really for oil: Lambasts Bush on economy
AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken
the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war
in Iraq was oil.
By Graham Paterson
Times" -- - AMERICA’s
elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White
House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was
In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan,
a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal
Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging
critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.
However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion
that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened
that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone
knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.
Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein
posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle
Britain and America have always insisted the war had nothing to
do with oil. Bush said the aim was to disarm Iraq of weapons of
mass destruction and end Saddam’s support for terrorism.
Fed veteran Alan Greenspan lambasts George W
Bush on economy
By Graham Paterson
09/16/07 "The Times" -- - THE
highly respected former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan
Greenspan, launches a harshly critical attack on President
George W Bush’s economic competence in his memoir published
While his declaration that America’s prime motive for the Iraq
war was oil will set off one political storm, his onslaught
against Republican fiscal mismanagement will cause another, just
as the economy becomes a big issue in the primary election
Greenspan’s 531-page book will do little to restore faith in the
Bush administration’s claims of economic proficiency at a time
when the markets are deeply unsettled. He has harsh words for
Bush, the vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the Republicans over
their big spending and lack of financial discipline. They are
contrasted with former president Bill Clinton, whom Greenspan
He writes that Bush’s failure to curb spending was “a major
mistake” and that Republican congressmen were “feeding at the
trough”. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” he says.
“They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither.
They deserved to lose [the 2006 congressional election].”
He sums up his deep disappointment with Bush. “My biggest
frustration remained the president’s unwillingness to wield his
veto against out-of-control spending,” Greenspan writes. “Not
exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush
presidency . . . To my mind, Bush’s collaborate-don’t-confront
approach was a major mistake.”
In contrast Greenspan, an adviser to Gordon Brown who describes
his own politics as “lifelong libertarian Republican”, called
Clinton’s 1993 economic plan “an act of political courage”.
When Bush and Cheney won the 2000 election, Greenspan writes, “I
thought we had a golden opportunity to advance the ideals of
effective, fiscally conservative government and free markets . .
. I was soon to see my old friends veer off in unexpected
He rejects the Republican mantra that “deficits don’t matter”
and says that in the Bush-Cheney White House “little value was
placed on rigorous economic policy debate or the weighing of
Greenspan, 81, who retired last year after serving six
presidents either as chairman of the Fed or as an economic
adviser, makes no secret of his admiration for Clinton but
believes he was undermined by the scandal of his relationship
with the intern Monica Lewinsky.
“President Clinton’s old-fashioned attitude towards debt might
have had a more lasting effect on the nation’s priorities.
Instead, his influence was diluted by the uproar about Monica
When the news first broke, Greenspan discloses, “I was
incredulous. ‘There is no way these stories could be correct,’ I
told my friends. ‘No way’.”
Later, when the affair was confirmed, Greenspan says, “I
wondered how the president could take such a risk. It seemed so
alien to the Bill Clinton I knew, and made me feel disappointed
He has sharp views on other presidents he has known, judging
that there is something abnormal about anyone willing to undergo
what it takes to get the job. Gerald Ford, he writes, “was as
close to normal as you get in a president, but he was never
The Watergate tapes, he says, show Richard Nixon as “an
extremely smart man who is sadly paranoid, misanthropic and
cynical”. He recalls telling a friend who had accused Nixon of
anti-semitism that “he wasn’t exclusively anti-semitic. He was
anti-semitic, anti-Italian, anti-Greek, anti-Slovak. I don’t
know anybody he was pro”.
Ronald Reagan’s ability to joke and tell folksy anecdotes in
support of a particular policy represented an “odd form of
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World is likely to be
pored over in Wall Street and the City for clues to Greenspan’s
still hugely influential views on the economy.
He forecasts that inflation will be harder to contain in future
and predicts that far higher interest rates will be needed to
maintain price stability. At some point, he argues, the movement
of people from farms to factories in countries such as China
will slow, leading inevitably to higher wages and prices.
Economists have been critical of Greenspan’s 2003 decision to
cut interest rates which, they argue, helped create the housing
bubble, the collapse of which provoked this summer’s banking
Greenspan defends the policy. “We wanted to shut down the
possibility of corrosive deflation,” he writes. “We were willing
to chance that by cutting rates we might foster a bubble, an
inflationary boom of some sort, which we would subsequently have
to address . . . It was a decision done right.”
In the book, which has an initial print run of 1m copies,
Greenspan includes details of his private life, including his
relationship with the television journalist Andrea Mitchell, 60.
After their first date in 1985 he invited her back to his flat
to read an economics paper he had written. They have been
together ever since. “I’m not threatened by a powerful woman; in
fact, I’m now married to one,” Greenspan says.
He started writing the memoir, for which he received a reported
advance of £4m, on the day he retired from the Fed in January,
2006. Most of it was composed in the bath, a practice he began
after he received a back injury in the 1960s.
© Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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