Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 16, 2007

The Global Energy Race

by b real
lifted from a comment

If you haven't read Michael Klare's article, The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences, it's good. But before I get to that, today SecDef Gates gave a very relevant answer to the question of what this ongoing buildup for a military attack on Iran is really about:

Gates said the time is not right for diplomatic talks with Iran, but left open that possibility for the future.

After meeting with senior officials at NATO headquarters, Gates was asked at a news conference what was behind the Bush administration’s decision to deploy a Patriot missile battalion and a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf region - moves announced in connection with a further buildup of ground troops in Iraq.

He noted that the United States has taken a leading role in Gulf security for many decades.

"We are simply reaffirming that statement of the importance of the Gulf region to the United States and our determination to be an ongoing strong presence in that area for a long time into the future," he said.

While "simply" may be an understatement, the reaffirmation is nothing surprising.

In his article on the "global struggle over ever-diminishing supplies of energy," Klare identifies four "basic features" of how this struggle is shaping up. Two of those features are directly relevant to Gates' statement.

* The transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil protection service whose primary mission is to defend America's overseas sources of oil and natural gas, while patrolling the world's major pipelines and supply routes.

* A ruthless scramble among the great powers for the remaining oil, natural gas, and uranium reserves of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, accompanied by recurring military interventions, the constant installation and replacement of client regimes, systemic corruption and repression, and the continued impoverishment of the great majority of those who have the misfortune to inhabit such energy-rich regions. [italics in original]

Client regimes is a key ingredient here. We've seen this in afghanistan, w/ oil-man Karzai, in Iraq, in Somalia, Rwanda, and no doubt others that have slipped my mind or of which I am not currently aware. The Pentagon recently declared their (temporary?) success in installing a client regime in Somalia as a blueprint for future actions in similiar settings. and regime change appears to be the objective of aggression on Iran, though the Somalia model is nowhere near applicable. Instead, should the U.S. attempt such in Iran, it will most probably follow a plan similar to the efforts to bomb the hell out of Iraqis until they turn on their own leaders, which, if attempted again after such stupendous failure in Iraq, certainly qualifies as another high/lowlight in their delusional pathologies.

Back to Gates' remark that "[w]e are simply reaffirming that statement of the importance of the Gulf region to the United States." Klare writes:

Already we have the beginnings of the energy equivalent of a classic arms race, combined with many of the elements of the "Great Game" as once played by colonial powers in some of the same parts of the world.
The most significant expression of this trend has been the transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil-protection service whose primary function is the guarding of overseas energy supplies as well as their global delivery systems (pipelines, tanker ships, and supply routes). This overarching mission was first articulated by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, when he described the oil flow from the Persian Gulf as a "vital interest" of the United States, and affirmed that this country would employ "any means necessary, including military force" to overcome an attempt by a hostile power to block that flow.

When President Carter issued this edict, quickly dubbed the Carter Doctrine, the United States did not actually possess any forces capable of performing this role in the Gulf. To fill this gap, Carter created a new entity, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), an ad hoc assortment of U.S-based forces designated for possible employment in the Middle East. In 1983, President Reagan transformed the RDJTF into the Central Command (Centcom), the name it bears today. Centcom exercises command authority over all U.S. combat forces deployed in the greater Persian Gulf area including Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. At present, Centcom is largely preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has never given up its original role of guarding the oil flow from the Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine.

Controlling the spigots too. And, as has been pointed out recently here at MoA, the U.S. is looking to replace Centcom's role in Africa w/ a dedicated African command. That's how serious this "game" is getting. Again, Klare:

When first promulgated in 1980, the Carter Doctrine was aimed principally at the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters. In recent years, however, American policymakers have concluded that the United States must extend this kind of protection to every major oil-producing region in the developing world. The logic for a Carter Doctrine on a global scale was first spelled out in a bipartisan task force report, "The Geopolitics of Energy," published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in November 2000. Because the United States and its allies are becoming increasingly dependent on energy supplies from unstable overseas suppliers, the report concluded, "[T]he geopolitical risks attendant to energy availability are not likely to abate." Under these circumstances, "the United States, as the world's only superpower, must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to worldwide energy supply."

This sort of thinking -- embraced by senior Democrats and Republicans alike -- appears to have governed American strategic thinking since the late 1990s. It was President Clinton who first put this policy into effect, by extending the Carter Doctrine to the Caspian Sea basin. It was Clinton who originally declared that the flow of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to the West was an American security priority, and who, on this basis, established military ties with the governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. President Bush has substantially upgraded these ties -- thereby laying the groundwork for a permanent U.S. military presence in the region -- but it is important to view this as a bipartisan effort in accordance with a shared belief that protection of the global oil flow is increasingly not just a vital function, but the vital function of the American military.

More recently, President Bush has extended the reach of the Carter Doctrine to West Africa, now one of America's major sources of oil. Particular emphasis is being place on Nigeria, where unrest in the Delta (which holds most of the country's onshore petroleum fields) has produced a substantial decline in oil output. "Nigeria is the fifth largest source of U.S. oil imports," the State Department's Fiscal Year 2007 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations declares, "and disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to U.S. oil security strategy." To prevent such a disruption, the Department of Defense is providing Nigerian military and internal security forces with substantial arms and equipment intended to quell unrest in the Delta region; the Pentagon is also collaborating with Nigerian forces in a number of regional patrol and surveillance efforts aimed at improving security in the Gulf of Guinea, where most of West Africa's offshore oil and gas fields are located.

Of course, senior officials and foreign policy elites are generally loathe to acknowledge such crass motivations for the utilization of military force -- they much prefer to talk about spreading democracy and fighting terrorism.

So, contrary to Paul Craig Robert's simplistic conspiracy-mongering, the (secondary) 'war on terror' is not being waged against Muslims because they are necessarily enemies of Israel, but is being waged against Muslims & any other groups that resist having their governments stuffed w/ client regimes loyal to imperial interests and do not submit to the idea that their natural wealth should wind up benefiting foreigners.

Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

Posted by b on January 16, 2007 at 10:25 UTC | Permalink


Iraqis will never accept this sellout to the oil corporations

The Iraqi government is failing to properly discharge its duties and responsibilities. It therefore seems incongruous that the government, with the help of USAid, the World Bank and the UN, is pushing through a comprehensive oil law to be promulgated close to an IMF deadline for the end of last year. Once again, an externally imposed timetable takes precedence over Iraq's interests. Before embarking on controversial measures such as this law favouring foreign oil firms, the Iraqi parliament and government must prove that they are capable of protecting the country's sovereignty and the people's rights and interests. A government that is failing to protect the lives of its citizens must not embark on controversial legislation that ties the hands of future Iraqi leaders, and which threatens to squander the Iraqis' precious, exhaustible resource in an orgy of waste, corruption and theft.
This law has been discussed behind closed doors for much of the past year. Secret drafts have been viewed and commented on by the US government, but have not been released to the Iraqi public - and not even to all members of parliament. If the law is pushed through in these circumstances, the political process will be further discredited even further. Talk of a moderate cross-sectarian front appears designed to ease the passage of the law and the sellout to oil corporations.

The US, the IMF and their allies are using fear to pursue their agenda of privatising and selling off Iraq's oil resources. The effect of this law will be to marginalise Iraq's oil industry and undermine the nationalisation measures undertaken between 1972 and 1975. It is designed as a reversal of Law Number 80 of December 1961 that recovered most of Iraq's oil from a foreign cartel. Iraq paid dearly for that courageous move: the then prime minister, General Qasim, was murdered 13 months later in a Ba'athist-led coup that was supported by many of those who are part of the current ruling alliance - the US included. Nevertheless, the national oil policy was not reversed then, and its reversal under US occupation will never be accepted by Iraqis.

Kamil Mahdi is an Iraqi academic and senior lecturer in Middle East economics at the University of Exeter

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2007 12:06 utc | 1

Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

Because oil is only one reason, maybe the main reason but only one of three or four that have come together and allow for the current U.S. strategy.

Oil is reason No. 1.

No. 2 is Israel: Citing Pat Lang:

Iran and the international jihadi movement are existential threats to Israel. They are not existential threats to the the USA. Fight over that one. Just think about what it would take to kill the USA. It would take a lot, a hell of a lot. Think about potential jihadi or Iranian capabilities. Think about ranges, throw weights. Think about "the unthinkable." Undertand that the death of a city will not kill the United States. We are Israel's ally. We are prepared to go to war for Israel. I do not question that as policy, but if we go to war with Iran at root it will be because of the Israelis reasonable fear them as an existential threat.

No.3a is U.S. demanded economic "freedom" to plunder (that is the only "freedom" Bush talks about.) Islam is economically a socialist religion - no interests are to be taken, a share of income has to go to social projects, etc.

No.3b is the role of the U.S. dollar, the guarantee that the U.S. can spend more than it makes. The role is endangered if oil deals are made in other currencies.

No.4 are the evangelical wackos and their weird interpretation of some old writings.

Only all these reasons coming together allow(ed) Bush/Cheney to run their ME plans the way they did/do.

well, that's my $0.02 on this ..

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2007 13:40 utc | 2

and mybe I should have added a 3c - the military-indistrial-political complex. On that I recommend to read this recent piece: Lockheed Stock And Two Smoking Barrels

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2007 13:44 utc | 3

As Josh Marshall points out, Bush is not just unpopular, he is extremely unpopular and announces he's expanding a really unpopular war anyway, surely aware, I would add, that his numbers would fall yet again.

I agree with b real's argument against pcr's, reposted by b above, that the GWOT is secondary, as is protecting Israel's interests, and that the war "is being waged against Muslims & any other groups that resist having their governments stuffed w/ client regimes loyal to imperial interests and do not submit to the idea that their natural wealth should wind up benefiting foreigners."

The point I'm after, however, comes from this article in the NYT published yesterday behind the Select wall:

"Who Cares About the Price of Gas?"

... An overwhelming number of Americans believe that our oil problems can be solved by better auto technology: 78 percent of us want Congress and the president to push for 40 m.p.g. fuel economy standards, according to a recent poll.

What we would rather not do is use less gas. Over the past five years, as gas prices have doubled, fuel consumption has continued climbing upward. In 2006, we spent $364 billion on gasoline, which was double what we spent in 2002, according to Tom Kloza, an analyst who monitors American gasoline-buying behavior for the Oil Price Information Service. (The difference amounts to as much as the entire federal budget for Medicaid in 2006. It’s hard to imagine that we would have swallowed a one-year tax increase of that proportion.)

This numbness to gasoline prices is relatively new. A recent study of consumer behavior by economists at the University of California at Davis found that between 2001 and 2006, as gas prices doubled, we reduced our consumption by only four percent. This is a big change from the last gas crisis, when drivers faced with the same relative price increase between 1975 and 1980, cut back by about 30 percent.

Why are we like this? American energy policy since the 1930s has been based on ensuring greater supply — first from the Middle East, and later from countries outside of OPEC — rather than on controlling demand. Generations of Americans have come to expect a constant flow of cheap gasoline as a right — and they attribute high prices to oil company shenanigans.

As we know, the entire infrastructure and functioning of the U.S. is dependent on oil.

How long would it take for Americans to demand Bush, or any president, to bomb whatever is necessary to keep everyday life going?

Is it not possible that Cheney-Bush rely on the disruption in Americans' lives resulting from their attack on Iran to give way to huge outcries to restore "normal life" to them no matter what?

Sure, half the population may scream for impeachment, but the loudest voices could be those demanding gasoline, energy, food. And when restored (to some degree), think of the gratitude! I wouldn't be surprised if they had focussed-grouped it.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 16 2007 13:54 utc | 4

Again, my point is that it is not just Cheney who believes, and has stated, that the American way of life is non-negotiable.

When faced with the threat of having it all taken away, which could come in April - lilnked in a previous thread - the energy war(s) will be supported by Americans. Is there anyone who thinks they won't be?

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 16 2007 14:00 utc | 5

Why the US Is Not Leaving Iraq: The Booming Business of War Profiteers

This piece has linked footnotes at the end that also look interesting.

Posted by: Bea | Jan 16 2007 14:06 utc | 6


just the icing on the cake.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 16 2007 14:08 utc | 7

@Hamburger #7
Yeah, but I liked it for this quote:

There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. — General Smedley D. Butler

Posted by: Bea | Jan 16 2007 14:20 utc | 8

Clearly Americans are indifferent to the assault on the Bill of Rights. Few attribute the defeat of the rethugs in 2006 to the spying, trashing of habeas corpus, the expansion of executive power, do they? Or the near total intrusion of corp/govt into ordinary lives?

The defense of our homes... ... now yer talkin'. And garages, too, with the pickups and SUVs in 'em. Homes - what we would say in my trade is that the word is a metonym for "American way of life".

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 16 2007 14:34 utc | 9

"my point is that it is not just Cheney who believes, and has stated, that the American way of life is non-negotiable."
If it's the case, then that half of America is the enemy of the world and of mankind and has to go. And if they mean this shit and intends to apply it militarily, then that part of America has physically to go if the rest of the world (and even the other half of America) wants to survive.

Good article, but this is highly delusional. As if other powers would leave the US do this without interference, as if the locals didn't realise what's going on. As if the US has the military means, notably manpower, to control the whole planet.
And last but not least, even if bashing Muslims isn't the main goal, it's enough that the Muslims think it is for shit to happen and for massive Muslim resistance and counter-attacks to take place. Quite bad policies if you ask me.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jan 16 2007 15:51 utc | 10

hamburger- Butler was an isolationist after his experiences as a marine before and during WWI making other countries safe for united fruit (bushco, btw) and exxon, etc. He stood with the bonus marchers who camped out in DC to demand the promised bonus for their service in WWI.

On the other hand, McArthur and Patton rode horses into the soldier's camps and attacked the very soldiers who had been gassed and maimed by Wilson's manifest destiny (btw, the neocons have equated the Bush prez with Wilson's.)

Butler said that soldier's and mil-industrial CEOs salaries should be the same during a time of take away the profit for the Cheneys of this world. Butler also thought that war should be decided by a vote among those who would actually serve, not those who would cheer the killing while making a killing in weapons production.

so, yeah, Butler was speaking patriotic code, but his purpose was not to maintain the status quo. His idea of the American way of life was a military that was only deployed in self-defense of the U.S. on its soil. In other words, he was isolationist when the U.S. wanted to go to war against Hitler.

War is a Racket is a great tract for "your trade's" analysis, imo.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jan 16 2007 15:58 utc | 11

thanks, b, for promoting this to the front page. this was actually the second part of longer post, which i had to break up due to the typepad spam filter. the first part is here, and it outlines a context w/ which to seat the oil ascpect of it - namely, global domination. as one of the quotes there states

Control of oil is integral to Washington’s official goal of world domination, a goal stated this baldly in national security documents.

oil is not the primary reason for manufacturing the gwot. it is a pretext for efforts to acheive stability once client regimes are in place. terrorists are insurgents. the al-qa'idah "terrorist network" is how it's packaged to the public.

there are other interests that complement & factor into the larger strategy -- "Go massive ... Sweep it all up ... Things related and not" -- but in the end it is about power.


on nigeria & oil, here's a useful article from last april
Imperial Oil: Petroleum Politics in the Nigerian Delta and the New Scramble for Africa

The new scramble for Africa strikingly resembles the gun boat diplomacy and violence of the late nineteenth century. And the violence in the Niger Delta arises from a context in which oil industry policies have encouraged competition among local residents for the meagre payments associated with corporation activities on their land and waterways. Africa is experiencing a major oil boom. The continent accounts for roughly 10 percent of world oil output, and 9.3 percent of known reserves. Over the last decade it has emerged as a strategic supplier to the US market. There are twelve major oil producers in Africa but four states (Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Angola) account for 85 percent of African output. The Gulf - constituted by the so-called West Africa 'Gulf States' from Nigeria and Angola - has emerged as the key African supplier to an increasing volatile world oil market. It is the Gulf that represents the new frontier for both US energy policy and the transnational oil companies.

Transnational oil interests have also sought concessions in Sudanese territory. Participants include Qatar's Gulf Oil, Canada's Talisman, Sweden's Lundin oil and most importantly France's TotalFinaElf and the Chinese National Oil Company. With growing attention to human rights violation in regions like Chad and Darfur, the offshore region of the West African Gulf of Guinea, is seen as relatively less contentious. This region, identified as the new Persian Gulf, could receive $40 billion in investment by 2012 according to the petroleum industry, and the National Intelligence Council has stated that the significance of West Africa to US energy supplies may rise from 16 percent to 25 percent by 2015. The quotas imposed by OPEC, and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere are keeping oil prices high and benefit the oil multinationals as much as they do the OPEC states.

It is hardly any surprise that the US Council of Foreign Relation's call for a new approach to Africa turns on Africa's "growing strategic importance" for US policy. At the heart of their recent report, More Than Humanitarianism, is a focus on sub Saharan Africa as a key source in US oil imports, the growing role of China in the African oil and gas industry and, of course, Africa as the new frontier in the fight against 'terror' and revolutionary Islam. As the Northern powers and multinationals seek to plunder African resources, local violence follows.

Posted by: b real | Jan 16 2007 16:31 utc | 12

More Blood for Oil

An apt example of how the charge of terrorism becomes cover for suppression of local democratic or leftist dissent is Nigeria. A major focus of U.S. oil interest is in that country and the Gulf of Guinea region. There, activists reflecting popular demand for retaining more oil revenues for local development and an end to environmental chaos, have been labeled 'terrorist' and are being brutally suppressed by a U.S. trained and equipped military.

Southern Africa scholar George Wright observes that the development of military ties to government and 'rebel' groups in Africa, in pursuit of U.S. geo-strategic objectives, is long standing but has accelerating over recent years. Between 1990 and 2000, military arrangements were concluded between governments or opposition groups in 39 countries on the continent. These involved weapons supplies, military training, shared intelligence and surveillance. The aim, he says, has always been to secure neo-colonial relations with African countries. However, since 9/11, Wright says, the process has been accelerated and taken on an increasingly militarist character 'under the guise of fighting terrorism.'

Fighting proxy war is credible as long as there is a chance of holding sway but history has repeatedly demonstrated when that doesn't work out, the end is often direct involvement. That explains why the 2007 U.S. military sets funding for Special Forces to increase by 15 percent. According to the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, these Special Forces 'will have the capacity to operate in dozens of countries simultaneously - relying on a combination of direct (visible) and indirect (clandestine) approaches.'

Posted by: b real | Jan 16 2007 16:46 utc | 13

Zbigniew Brzezinski nailed the basic fallacy of the Bush fantasy wars:

"There is such a thing as historical relevance.

The fact is, the American effort in Iraq is essentially a colonial effort. We're waging a colonial war. We live in the post-colonial era. This war cannot be won because it is simply out of sync with historical times."

I have no doubt that the US citizens would have supported the take over of the Middle East in 2002 if the truth had been told and there had been real sacrifice like the Draft, alternative fuels and Taxes on the Wealthy. It might have even worked if done through auspicious of the UN and rich enough bribes of access to oil were given to Egypt and Pakistan for Muslim troops. But, no the USA had to invade Iraq with only Christians and on the cheap.

Posted by: Jim S | Jan 16 2007 17:07 utc | 14

b real

you were right to reprimand me in relation to the text of paul craig roberts - but i am so interested in the case of people like him - who were - conservatives of hardest kind - & i am interested to comprehend how he articulates the betrayal of those notions by the criminal bush

i did not see the antisemitism perhaps because this state of israel has become such a burden for our world & as a state it retains neither the quality of the struggle that led it to be a state nor does it in any way honour the struggle of the jewish people especially of the twentieth century

the state of israel has become a burden because it has never, ever been interested in a real negotiation with the palestinian people for whom it shows a cruelty that has more in common with an einsatzcommando than it does as a defence of a lieu of jewish memory

it is clear that the interests of the empire & its need for energy resources converge with a 'defence' of israel - an israel it has allowed to accumulate weapons of mass destruction, an israel that has ignored almost every decree from the united nations, an israel that acts in contempt of international law, an israel that is quite comfortable with collective punishment, ghettoisation, targeted assasinations - in fact the whole panopoly of a regime of terror

& because the business of the shoah continues it has become a shoa business - using the memory of those who i am certain would be oppossed to the actions of the state of israel - if we were to read raul hilbergs magisterial ' the destruction of european jewry' again we would see how comportements continue

but yes it is wrong to suggest that americans act in any way as a defence of the people of israel themselves - they are a necessary bridge to the domination of the middle east & complete control of its resources

the state of israel has acted so much like apartheid south africa with its short term vision that it forgets that it is the major factor allowing for its own destruction - that is it has constructed & allowed - the growth of a form of fundamentalism which it exist with in happy mutual religious infantilism

not only have they besmirched every secular leader of the arab people but it has indulged in polices against a people that can only breed hate & a desire for revenge

& this is quite convenient for the domination of resources because in the mock defence of a certain kind of humanism it allows for the most barborous invasions to do what capitalism has always don in its greed - capute the resources & earth that belongs to others

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 16 2007 17:57 utc | 15

Let me put it this way.

If/when the energy crisis comes, as a result of a US/Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran, say, that is deepened by greater war (e.g., retaliation on US troops in Iraq, etc.) and, for whatever reason - e.g., Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, Saudi fields/ports are bombed, whatever, and the bad weather comes and US oil/gas reserves diminish and American children, mothers and fathers, people in hospitals, members of your family begin to die in the US because of rationing of gas, disrupted transportation, food and drug shortages, lack of water, etc. etc., how do you think Americans will cope?

Will the majority grow their own food in crisis gardens, barter goods and services, move into collectives, think that it all is a good thing because, by god, we finally see now that we have to develop energy independence and sustainable lifestyles?

Cheney-Bush have "normalized" pre-emptive war; it is a given now. Where, besides among us, is that anything more that "hmmm, maybe that's not a great idea"? Bush has normalized the notion of "keeping control of oil from extremists", and Cheney: the AWOL is non-negotiable. They are openly contemptuous of constitutional and Congressional constraints.

A temporary or long-term major disruption in the American way of life will result in widespread American support for what we would call energy wars but Cheney-Bush will keep telling Americans are "attacks on the American way of life", attacks on our "freedoms". I'm not talking about Butler or isolationism. I'm talking about how Cheney-Bush are going about getting what they want - control of energy through the merciless use of the military and private contractors, and getting it with the support of many Americans who may presently dislike them for their unsavory war in Iraq, but will support them come crunch time to get back their American way of life.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 16 2007 17:59 utc | 16

Major bank warns investors that a strike on Iran will likely come in late Feb-early March.

New Evidence

h/t The Raw Story

Posted by: Bea | Jan 16 2007 18:08 utc | 17

r'giap: because in the mock defence of a certain kind of humanism it allows for the most barborous invasions ...

Yes, I agree. And once ordinary middle-class Americans experience true deprivation/disrupted lives through lack of energy, even if for a relatively short period, Cheney-Bush will have them on their side.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 16 2007 18:14 utc | 18

r'giap- i agree that we should pay attention to roberts & those of his background, whatever their faults so long as we understand their strengths & biases. my take on his limited vision is that it is a convenience which prevents him from having to critically evaluate u.s. interests & its historical trajectory, to a degree. that is, it is easier to retain ones beliefs in what their own country means to them by positioning it as a victim: israelis have hijacked his country in toto; bushCo has blundered & (mis-)led this nation offcourse; 911 changed everything, etc.

my stance is that this is what empire does. its economic ideology is based on expansion & growth, the monopolization & centralization of power, the neutralization & elimination of competition, in a general tendency toward homogenization & stabilization (which, btw, are the antithesis of life, which requires diversity & chaos to continue). imperialism is rule & theft by force. both physical force, as we see w/ the increasing emphasis on military power, and the colonization of the mind, thru consumerism, language, and the concentrated discipline of shaping thinkable thought.

hamburger- i understand your pessimistic outlook on the public, but i think the problem right now is that empire has the only stories, the only framing, that is being sold to its subjects. we simply must come up w/ better stories to relate who we are, where we're likely headed (extinction) if we don't stop empire, and how we do that. empire (and it's economic model) sell the idea of individualism. some of the links you've shared recently stress cooperative models of community. it seems to me, short of a critical mass armed rebellion, this is the only way out of this deadend we're being boxed into. while there will be those who are & will react as you suggest, many others - perhaps more than we realize - don't believe that is the answer. but we need better stories to counter those of empire.

Posted by: b real | Jan 16 2007 19:07 utc | 19

random request - before the 2006 elections, Bush was stumping for some Republican candidates and actually made the claim that the war WAS indeed about oil. He said something about "keeping gas prices low." I feel like this is something that should be kept as a resource in my bookmarks; anyone know where it could be found?

Posted by: Rowan | Jan 16 2007 21:35 utc | 20

@Hamburger... from June (and earlier)

THE DECISION: whether to increasingly militarise the entire country in hopes of appropriating enough of the world's remaining resources to fuel the machine for just .. a ... little .... bit ..... longer. Or to back off from the precipice, hunker down, and deal with the radically lower standard of living (and political fallout) that would imply.

Could still go either way, but I think the momentum in the electorate is to throw the bums out rather than register for the draft. I suppose this controversy is similar to that preceding WW1 and 2; but will have to defer to historians re this.

There are signs that the finance sector is coming to grips with a multi-polar world. The yield curves in the US and Europe are forecasting a slump and a boom respectively, the USD is weak against the Euro despite interest rate and inflation differentials, forward volatility as priced by options is still low. Oil is soft - which could be Saudis pimping supply ahead of a disruption but the futures markets are so not easily hoodwinked and short term.

The RawStory link from Bea at 17 above has an excellent review by ING (pdf) which looks genuine to me. In short, the markets are still regarding an attack as unlikely though if there is one ING is putting the likely timeframe as Feb/Mar (are they reading here?).

Posted by: PeeDee | Jan 16 2007 22:26 utc | 21

A message from Russia? (via Stratfor):

Russia has completed transfers of the Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said. The Tor-M1 is a high-accuracy missile designed to intercept cruise missiles as well as both manned and unmanned aircraft. Despite U.N. sanctions on Iran, Russia insists that the contract was in line with international law and that the system is for defensive purposes only.

Posted by: PeeDee | Jan 16 2007 22:40 utc | 22

More to Hamburger's point about conscious consumption and how Americans deal, or more correctly do not deal, with it. Steven Leahy writes about North Americans' sense of entitlement and the environmental effects of conspicuous - as opposed to conscious - consumption on Inter Press News Agency. He quotes Monique Tilford, acting executive director of the Centre for a New American Dream (CNAD), a Maryland group promoting environmentally and socially responsible consumption, and Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, a U.S. group focused on environmentally sustainable economy.

Record retail store sales during the holiday season in North America is one reason 2007 is predicted to be the hottest year on record. And it's well past time that people began to connect the dots between what they buy and the resulting environmental impacts such as global warming, experts say.

In other words, consumption has consequences: big, nasty environmental consequences that inflict suffering mainly on the world's poor.

That North Americans, and to a lesser extent Europeans, are profligate consumers is well known. If everyone consumed like North Americans we'd need five planets to support us -- only three planets are necessary if we all lived like Europeans, according to the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report.


That over-consumption has reached such an absurd level that the average U.S. citizen, living in the world's richest nation, spends more than they earn every year.

Tilford admits that at the individual consumer level, people are often so busy they don't want to know or ignore the evidence that their behaviour is resulting in environmental impacts like global warming.

"It is sometimes stunning that people will not make the most minimal effort to change," she said.

The huge societal shift needed to find ways to live sustainably will likely not happen without some kind of disaster that will generate enough suffering that people will make the shift, she says.

Both Tilford and Brown believe that the U.S. public needs to elect people who will put policies in place to ensure products sold on U.S. shelves are made sustainably no matter what country they come from.

"People in other countries are putting their lives on the line so we can buy gourmet products," Tilford says.

But unless there is enough popular support, there will be no action.

Wonder what it will take for people to get it, or if as Hamburger suggests, they will never get it.

Posted by: conchita | Jan 16 2007 23:18 utc | 23

also wanted to say thanks to b real for connecting this multitude of dots.

Posted by: conchita | Jan 16 2007 23:35 utc | 24


i remember something like that too, but can't find it.

Posted by: slothrop | Jan 16 2007 23:39 utc | 25

rowan- babybush & shooter have used the argument on several occassions that we need to stay in iraq to keep the terrorists from getting control of the oil & funding their int'l terrorist conspiracy networks. but i don't recall reading where babybush has ever stated that the goal of the war had anything to do w/ u.s. benefit from the oil there. his daddy, however, did use that very logic back in 1991, but then shifted excuses after public criticism. he had also said it was about "american jobs." the excuse that got the best response centered on WMD, which is probably why it was the one story everyone could agree on this time.

here's an article on babybush's oil story
Bush Cites Oil As Reason to Stay in Iraq

Posted by: b real | Jan 17 2007 0:18 utc | 26

thanks conchita. hope nobody's getting tired of me appearing to be posting so much - where is everyone? though the echo in here is pleasant, i must say - but something i should have pointed out earlier when i linked to the article on nigeria was: do these two dots connect?

dot #47,921: "The new scramble for Africa strikingly resembles the gun boat diplomacy and violence of the late nineteenth century."

dot #873,006: admiral w.j. fallon's appointment as the new centcom commander

gun boat diplomacy. navy. hmmm....

Posted by: b real | Jan 17 2007 1:07 utc | 27

@ rowan, b real: He did it again or something like that just now in his interview with Jim Lehrer.

"Secondly, it is likely, if that scenario were to develop, that Middle Eastern oil would fall in the hand of radicals, which they could then use to blackmail Western governments."

Under "weighing the public's reaction" (5th graph from end)


Posted by: beq | Jan 17 2007 1:36 utc | 28

b real,

props for keeping the matter of resource-contention in Africa on the radar.

its hard to predict what will come of it. If this rambling wreck of a continent would reveal itself. These are the questions. Oven or incubator, which is it ?

Whichever way it goes, its probably not going to be irrelevant.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 17 2007 2:15 utc | 29

Pretty sure that's what I wanted, b real (and beq). Might be useful ammunition, thanks.

Posted by: Rowan | Jan 17 2007 5:21 utc | 30

The NYT editorial board is concerned that the elected Iraqi Prime Minister is not acting in "America's best interests".

Yet in the days following Mr. Bush’s address, as in the days before, Mr. Maliki has demonstrated how far his own goals diverge from America’s best interests or any reasonable path for containing Iraq’s civil war.
Somehow these Iraqis do not get the concept of "American democracy".

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2007 8:21 utc | 31

@ b 31,

and therefore we are justified in removing him

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 17 2007 10:43 utc | 32

@ jbc 29

Oven or incubator, which is it?

could be both

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 17 2007 11:06 utc | 33

@ beq 28

Thanks for the link. Look what he says 3 para later:

And so the - Iraq is - Jim, is - must be viewed in a context just larger than that single battlefield. It must be viewed in context of how Iran reacts. It must be viewed in the context of democracies like Lebanon and the Palestinian territories - all being - these young democracies, by the way, being attacked by the same type of extremists that are attacking the democracy in Iraq

Bush is telling us straight out. The larger context is Iran and extremists - you know - those guys that will blackmail us if they control the oil in the ME. He is building/repeating his case for the next attacks and the NYT is dutifully prepping us for the "replacement" of Maliki.

Looks to me like they have the big picture (still) in mind and are moving, in Cheney's words, "full steam ahead" towards the long emergency.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 17 2007 11:31 utc | 34

I wish Lehrer had followed up on the "oil law" statement.

Secondly, I want to see a political process that tends to unify the country as opposed to divide the country. And that would be an oil law; that would be reforming the de-Ba'athification law; that will be local elections. The Iraqi government said they're going to spend $10 billion. We want to see the $10 billion spent equitably. We'd like to see this country continue its small business growth and continue to flourish. We want the country to be territorially intact. We want it to be an ally in this war on terror, not a safe haven for terrorists. And this is doable.

in addition, the 10 billion he throws around, is that money that Iraq will have to borrow from the the World Bank?

hanging out here has made me see things differently, the reptiles don't even hide their intentions. they use some code to talk about the most blatant theft but nevertheless tell us exactly what they want and how they intend to take it.

guess that makes us fools for not paying attention.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 17 2007 11:56 utc | 35

part II of klare's essay is now up at tomdispatch: Petro-Power and the Nuclear Renaissance: Two Faces of an Emerging Energo-fascism (Part 2)

All the phenomena discussed in this two-part series -- the transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil-protection service, the growth of the energy equivalent of a major-power arms race, the emergence of Russia as an energy superpower, and the need for increased surveillance over the nuclear power industry -- are expressions of a single, overarching trend: the tendency of states to extend their control over every aspect of energy production, procurement, transportation, and allocation. This, in turn, is a response to the depletion of world energy supplies and a shift in the locus of energy production from the global north to the global south -- developments that have been under way for some time, but are bound to gain greater momentum in the years ahead.

Posted by: b real | Jan 17 2007 16:31 utc | 36

thanx for the heads up on the klare article. command & control of energy resource extraction is not initself a bad thing, so long as societies also plan consumption, which is also not a bad thing.

Posted by: slothrop | Jan 17 2007 17:11 utc | 37

command & control of energy resource extraction is not initself a bad thing

Ummm, except for one little tiny miny problem... the energy resources belong to the countries in which they are located. So we have no legal right to "command and control them" without the permission of the peoples and the governments involved. If you had said, "international collaboration to ensure best and most equitable use and distribution of resources with the full cooperation of the nations who own the resources," then I might be more inclined to agree (although admittedly it would be a utopian idea).

How would you feel if China took it upon itself to "command and control" US oil?

Posted by: Bea | Jan 17 2007 17:22 utc | 38

i've said before here that "commanding heights"-type industries like raw materials, energy (all those "department I" sectors) escape discipline of "the market" for various reasons. on the production side, opec still retains some influence, but often for the wrong reasons. on the demand side, we have the unratified kyoto agreement. beyond these forms of control, the oecd countries could shape consumption in any number of ways (carbon tax, development of alt fuels, better urban planning, etc.). i like klare's zero-sum nightmare interpretations, but solutions to these problems are hardly "utopian."

also, reduction of the m.e. conflict to oil/resource war ala klare is seductive (i myself have done it), but thuis is just part of the problem.

Posted by: slothrop | Jan 17 2007 17:40 utc | 39

Iraq’s oil was first supposed to pay for ‘reconstruction.’ The USuk destroyed the ‘oil for food’ program which guaranteed poor Iraqis the food package. (Remember, all those corrupt UN types, Kofi’s son, etc. Under Saddam, it was the US that was in charge of preventing, policing, prosecutin’ oil smuggling, under a UN mandate, if I recall correctly.) Subsequently, it became vital that ‘terrorists’ not take over the oil - someone else should.

Today. Major oil companies -whatever laws are voted by puppet parliaments- see their slice of control of ‘proven reserves’ diminished year by year, to 8 or 10 % roughly at present while Gvmts - China, Venezuela, Russia, etc. as governments or ‘respected’ leaders make agreements amongst themselves. Iraq has no legitimate Gvmt. that can sign stuff and uphold or enforce signed docs. Major oil companies need stability and security to guarantee their investments, planned for the very long term and requiring tremendous sums. They cannot, at the moment, invest in Iraq, or think of long term profits. Nor will they be able to in the future while ‘insurgents’ are around to blow up pipelines, etc.

That is why the US’ plan for a blooming cheerful culturally hyped tv watching Iraq was probably genuine. Kiddies waving flags, ladies with sloe eyes sporting fluffy skirts, stalwart men proud of their country, earning good money. Lights and cars and clean clinics....

The USuk ‘free market’ model can not function in this global world for complex matters like oil (How can the free market construct a complex system?), even with bombs, marines, and nukes to enforce it.

Some contradiction cannot be overcome - guff about democracy and supporting dictators, fluff about free markets and controlling trade with arms and lily pads, hype about liberty and the powerful who spy, imprison, torture; democracy and rigged elections, etc.

Reality resists.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 17 2007 18:31 utc | 40

well, it looks like the US is closer to one of its goals.

Iraq leaders agree draft oil law

I wonder how this will be accepted by the Shia and Kurds. They would be fools to go along with it, but maybe they have no choice.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 17 2007 20:07 utc | 41

swans: Oil, The Elites, And The Commons

The preservation of secured sources of abundant energy has long been a priority of the American elites and their European counterparts. The Euro-Atlantic Community or "Axis" -- the First World -- has pursued similar policies for over 100 years, through either soft or hard power. The abundance of energy is the indispensable lubricant to run our economic engines. Until the 1970s, energy was cheap and plentiful, but in spite of a few ups and downs in the market, experts were forecasting the end of abundance. We were imperceptibly entering an era of energy scarcity. No sooner had the Soviet Union joined the dustbins of history did the Euro-Atlantic Axis take a strong stance to secure the energy realm of the future. It began with the first Gulf War and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, and it led to the scenario that befuddles us now.

Energy policies are not driven by quarterly profits. Rational people in the corridors of power take a much longer view -- 20, 30 years at a minimum. Having long espoused the ideological core of the capitalist system -- private property, free markets, free trade, collective defense mechanisms, representative democracy -- they enact policies of coercion that have been working for ages. They assiduously have attempted to secure the most strategic area of the planet: The Middle East and Central Asia (Eurasia). Between 1990 and 2004, they tried to bring Russia with her extraordinary energy resources into their privatizing and "occidentalized" paradigm. By destroying Yugoslavia they cleared the way, or the corridors -- the "New Silk Road" -- to the East as far as the borders with China. They are fast at work to bring the Black Sea region under the control of the Euro-Atlantic institutions by competing strenuously with Russia, as this paper, "The 'Soft War' for Europe's East" (Hoover Institution, Policy Review, June-July 2006), authored by the ubiquitous insider Bruce P. Jackson, or the November 2006 Strategic Briefing from the Henry Jackson Society, "Europe needs a new 'Russia Policy' based on principles and power," clearly demonstrate.

The journey in Iraq and our forthcoming escalation to Iran must be seen in this context. Look at a geographical map. Iran and Iraq are the last two countries that must be brought under control in order to secure the so-called Greater Middle East for the next two or three decades, until we work out alternatives to petroleum depletion, and to keep China at bay. (Syria is of no real strategic importance, as it has no oil; we'll offer up regime change as a gift to our friendly vassals in the region.) There is little divergence among the players in Europe and in the United States. The elites have common objectives but differ on the tactics. Hence the much maligned French, and to a lesser degree Germans, tagged as "Old Europe" by Mr. Rumsfeld -- hard power versus soft power. The current US administration elected the former course of action. Old Europe considered the latter more appropriate. Both, however, strive for the same construct: The Euro-Atlantic dominance of the energy market for the foreseeable future.

Foreign companies look to tap African oil

Angola is joining the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, African oil exploration is booming and China is investing. The stampede for African oil has continued, even as militant attacks in some countries and precarious governments in others make returns uncertain.

Though much of the continent is just as conflict-ridden as the Middle East, analysts say Africa is increasingly attractive because it's one of a diminishing number of regions still welcoming foreign corporations.

"It's one of the few places still where in virtually every country the international oil companies can invest," said Julian Lee, senior energy analyst at London's Centre for Global Energy Studies. "I can't think of anywhere in Africa that has not let in international companies."

The Middle East, which has nearly 60 % of the world's proven reserves, operates mainly through state-owned companies. Russia, the second-biggest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, took over much of its former oil giantYukos early this year and has continued to tighten its control over foreign companies.

Meanwhile, South American policies have become increasingly nationalistic; Venezuela forced retooled contracts on foreign oil companies, Bolivia nationalized its petroleum industry and strong leftist parties in Peru and Ecuador have made corporations increasingly wary.
"President (Hugo) Chavez of Venezuela has basically politicized Latin American oil," said Mehdi Varzi, who heads an independent oil consultancy in London. Varzi said nationalization isn't an option for African countries with poor infrastructure and little technical expertise to develop an oil sector on their own.

Posted by: b real | Jan 17 2007 20:11 utc | 42

A "signal" to Shrub from China:

1216 GMT -- CHINA, UNITED STATES -- U.S. intelligence agencies believe China destroyed the aging Feng Yun 1C polar orbit weather satellite in a successful anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) test Jan. 11, China Daily reported Jan. 18, citing an article to appear in the Jan. 22 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. U.S. intelligence agencies are still attempting to verify the ASAT test, which would signify that China has a major new military capability.

The vaunted US military is not going to be as effective in a shooting war without GPS or satellite imagery and comms... and the race goes on.

Posted by: PeeDee | Jan 18 2007 22:03 utc | 43

wrt the focus on installing client regimes, here's a relevant section from a speech wesley clark gave last october

I went through the Pentagon a week after 9/11. One of the Generals called me in, and he said, "Sir," he said, "come in here in my office." I'd gone in to see Secretary Rumsfeld, because after you've been in the uniform for 35 years, when you're suddenly on CNN, and you know the people who are in, and you feel like you're still part of the Army. ... And so, I had to go back and touch base, you know, to the Pentagon. So, the General calls me after I'd seen Rumsfeld. He said, "Sir, come in here." He said, "Sir, we're going to invade Iraq." I said, "We're going to invade Iraq!?! Why?" And he said, "Because," he says, "I don't know why. Really," he said, "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but," he said, "I guess they don't know what to do about the problem of terrorism, and if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem has to look like a nail." He said, "We don't know what to do about terrorists, but we can take down governments. So, I guess they're looking for a government to take down. Meanwhile we started bombing in Afghanistan. So well, I came back to see the same General in early November. I said, "Are we still going to invade Iraq?" He said, "Yes, Sir," he said, "but it's worse than that." I said, "How do you mean?" He held up this piece of paper. He said, "I just got this memo today or yesterday from the office of the Secretary of Defense upstairs. It's a, it's a five-year plan. We're going to take down seven countries in five years. We're going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we're going to come back and get Iran in five years. I said, "Is that classified, that paper?" He said, "Yes Sir." I said, "Well, don't show it to me, because I want to be able to talk about it."

clark uses it to mobilize votes, constantly reiterating the talking point that every action that "we" have taken has no strategy behind it, but i found the majority of the list of countries there still very topical
We're going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we're going to come back and get Iran in five years.

the time span was wishful thinking, of course, and it's not certain how long the client regimes that have been installed in iraq & somalia are going to hold, but the long-term grand strategy is definitely in play.

Posted by: b real | Jan 20 2007 5:19 utc | 44

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