Thursday, May 18, 2006

if you've got the oil, we've got the bombs

Some instructive oil politics from elsewhere on the web.

Baghdad Burning remains truly gripping reading, an ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances in modern Iraq. With all the Iran war rumblings going on, there's a point made that I've not seen elsewhere:

It was around 9 pm on the 11th of April when we finally saw the footage of Saddam’s statue being pulled down by American troops- the American flag plastered on his face. We watched, stunned, as Baghdad was looted and burned by hordes of men, being watched and saluted by American soldiers in tanks. Looking back at it now, it is properly ironic that our first glimpses of the ‘fall of Baghdad’ and the occupation of Iraq came to us via Iran- through that Iranian channel.

We immediately began hearing about the Iranian revolutionary guard, and how they had formed a militia of Iraqis who had defected to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. We heard how they were already inside of the country and were helping to loot and burn everything from governmental facilities to museums. The Hakims and Badr made their debut, followed by several other clerics with their personal guard and militias, all seeping in from Iran.

Today they rule the country. Over the duration of three years, and through the use of vicious militias, assassinations and abductions, they’ve managed to install themselves firmly in the Green Zone. We constantly hear our new puppets rant and rave against Syria, against Saudi Arabia, against Turkey, even against the country they have to thank for their rise to power- America...

The big question is- what will the US do about Iran? There are the hints of the possibility of bombings, etc. While I hate the Iranian government, the people don’t deserve the chaos and damage of air strikes and war. I don’t really worry about that though, because if you live in Iraq- you know America’s hands are tied. Just as soon as Washington makes a move against Tehran, American troops inside Iraq will come under attack. It’s that simple- Washington has big guns and planes... But Iran has 150,000 American hostages.

Thing is, Iran is sitting on a lot of oil and gas that we want; it also stands between an oil-thirsty China and the major middle eastern oilfields.

With those commodities about to become so expensive, we not only want cheap supplies for us, we want the huge profits from anyone who buys it, and the power to deny it to those who incur our displeasure.

The troops/hostages may not be enough to dissuade us. We've already shown one Iraqi government what we can do if we don't like them.

The imminency of it all was flagged up in this post by Jim Kunstler

America commuted back into the unknown country of $3-plus gasoline and $75-plus oil (per barrel) last week, and President Bush revisted the Tomorrowland of hydrogen cars in the absence of any reality-based response to the global energy crunch that will change all the terms of America's "non-negotiable way of life."

Actually, we are negotiating, or bargaining, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once put it in describing the sequence of emotional reactions of humans facing certain death:

denial > bargaining > depression > acceptance

Events seem to have dragged us kicking and screaming beyond the sheer denial stage, since this is now the second time in six months that oil and gasoline prices have ratcheted wildly up. Something is happening, Mr. Jones, and now we want to talk our way out of it.

The main thread in this bargaining stage is the desperate wish to keep our motoring fiesta going by other means than oil. This fantasy exerts its power across the whole political spectrum, and evinces a fascinating poverty of imagination in the public and its leaders in every field: politics, business, science and the media.

The right wing still pretends we can still drill our way out of this, if only the nature freaks would allow them to. The "green" folks thinks that we can devote crops to the production of gasoline substitutes, even though a scarcity of fossil fuel-based fertilizers will sharply cut crop yields for human food. Nobody, it seems, can imagine an American life not centered on cars...

The mainstream media, representing the nation's collective consciousness, remains in a coma. This morning's electronic edition of The New York Times displays not one home page headline about oil or gasoline prices, despite the trauma of the week just passed.

Jim explained social blindness to the issue

I try to avoid the term "peak oil" because it has cultish overtones, and this is a serious socioeconomic issue, not a belief system. But it seems to me that what we are seeing now in financial and commodity markets, and in the greater economic system itself, is exactly what we ought to expect of peak oil conditions: peak activity.

After all, peak is the point where the world is producing the most oil it will ever produce, even while it is also the inflection point where big trouble is apt to begin. And this massive quantity of oil induces a massive amount of work, land development, industrial activity, commercial production, and motor transport.

So we shouldn't be surprised that there is a lot happening, that houses and highways are still being built, that TVs are pouring out of the Chinese factories, commuters are still whizzing around the DC Beltway, that obese children still have plenty of microwavable melted cheese pockets to zap for their exhausting sessions with Grand Theft Auto.

But in the peak oil situation the world is like a banquet just before the tablecloth is pulled out from under it... it is hard to say how the platters, bowls, and ewers will tumble and fall, but we can bet that few if any of them will land right-side up, unspilled. One also has to wonder how the other people at the table are going to behave when things come tumbling down.


Anonymous said...

Peak Oil is a bit of a sham, the real underlying problem is a lack of technology and good science..while we've been carpet bombing and occupying across the globe for decades, post-soviet Russia has been making great strides and in the long term shouldn't be faced with oil-shortage issues. It should also be noted that the oil industries make more money when there's a lower supply than demand, even more-so when you throw Speculation into the mix.
The Peak Oil issue actually reminds me a lot of that National Security memorandum 200 authored by Henry Kissinger, back in the 70's IIRC but since declassified and made public. Controlling the world through natural resources and markets, basic hegemonic geo-strategy..

re: Iran, gives some interesting insight on the shia/sunni divisions and such as well

merrick said...

BJ, in what way is Peak Oil a sham?

How can we be consuming a finite resource at an ever increasing rate and not hit a crunch point when demand outstrips supply?

The only questions are; when will we hit crunch and what impact will it have.

As our economies and lifestyles are enormously oil-dependent, the impacts will be huge. As all the credible sources I can find guarantee peak well within my expected lifetime, I'd say it was a matter of real importance. Certainly, a long way from a sham.

Russia certinly has a lot of oil, but not enough to supply the rest of us who want it, so I don't really see that being a particularly relevant point.

Regarding profits, they shift to a different model when demand outstrips supply; put simply, if everyone want it you can name your price.