Protesters Oppose War, Yet Support Deadly Policies at Home

As the U.S. military continues liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship, American protesters on the political left continue to march, shouting “no blood for oil.”1

The claim that the U.S. has gone to war to acquire Iraqi oil is a malicious lie.

The U.S. could have bought Iraq’s oil for less money than the war is costing. America could have kept some of Iraq’s oil in 1991 to repay our costs for kicking Saddam out of Kuwait – but didn’t. The U.S. could have vetoed U.N. sanctions on Iraq, assuring a free flow of cheap Iraqi oil, but we supported sanctions, and have stuck to them – unlike some so-called “anti-war” countries.

Gulf War II is properly understood as the continuation and completion of Gulf War I. Nevertheless, if American war protesters genuinely believe the U.S. has gone to war for oil, to be ideologically consistent, they should advocate a safe energy policy and economically and technologically feasible oil alternatives.

Yet, in most cases, the protesters’ grasp of energy issues is no better than their understanding of national security.

A typical left wing “no blood for oil” protester will tell you that war is bad because it kills people. They’ll also tell you the U.S. should lessen its oil imports by increasing mandatory fuel economy standards on passenger vehicles and by increasing the use of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen.

What they won’t mention, and perhaps haven’t even bothered to find out, is that the National Academy of Sciences announced in 2002 that changes to passenger vehicles required to meet the mandatory fuel economy standards have caused an additional 2,000 American highway deaths every year since 1975.

That’s over 50,000 people dead over a quarter century, essentially making fuel economy standards a quasi weapon of mass destruction.

Apparently, to some, deaths in a just war to liberate a people from a killer’s rule and to deter the future use of genuine weapons of mass destruction are bad, but tens of thousands of unnecessary highway deaths are nothing to be concerned about.

Writing in The Weekly Standard, William Tucker notes that replacing oil with hydrogen isn’t as easy as some make it sound: “…there is no source of free hydrogen in the world. Supplies will come from either 1) the electrolysis of water, which requires electricity, or 2) stripping hydrogen from natural gas.”2

The activist left, of course, has made drilling for natural gas unnecessarily difficult. This leaves anyone advocating hydrogen power with the need to plan for large amounts of electricity. Not so easy. The left also objects to measures needed to generate electricity, such as coal mining and burning, building and operating hydroelectric dams and/or building and operating nuclear power plants.

Though in their ignorance, they probably don’t know it, American peace activists who oppose non-polluting nuclear power are helping to make the world more dangerous by opposing the construction of new nuclear plants that can’t create the raw material needed for nuclear bombs.

The new generation of nuclear power technology, so-called “fast” reactors, don’t pollute, leave little nuclear waste to be stored or shipped and generate no byproduct that can be used to build nuclear weapons.3

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t have any “fast” reactor plants and none are scheduled for construction. They don’t exist because nuclear power is politically incorrect in the United States.

Protesters who hate war because it kills and who claim the war in Iraq is about oil should prefer safe automobiles and safe energy we can generate here in America.

Strangely, they don’t seem to.


Amy Ridenour is president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington, D.C. think tank. 

Footnotes1 See, among other sources, the Associated Press description of several anti-war protesters in front of the White House on March 22, 2003 chanting “no blood for oil.” The protesters then pushed a policeman off his bicycle, and two were arrested. This AP story was available on the website at,2933,81890,00.html under the heading “Tens of Thousands March Against War in New York, Washington” as of March 22, 2003.

2 William Tucker, “The Permanent Energy Crisis and the Solution We Keep Ignoring,” The Weekly Standard, March 17, 2003.

3 Gerald E. Marsh and George S. Stanford, “Reprocessing, Waste and Bombs: Good News on the Energy Front,” National Policy Analysis #364, The National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C., September 2001, available at

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