Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) said on MSNBC today that "we're in Libya because of oil". His comments came at the end of an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that had been focusing on the the nuclear crisis in Japan and the future of nuclear power in the U.S.

As the interview was ending, Mitchell asked the congressman if he had "any reservations about the military operation in Libya?" To which, Markey responded: "Well, we're in Libya because of oil."

Markey is off message with the Obama administration and other Congressional Democrats.

Partial transcript:

Mithchell: Before I let you go, Congressman, do you have any reservations about the military operation in Libya?

Markey: Well, we're in Libya because of oil.

And I think both Japan and nuclear technology and Libya and this dependence we have on this imported oil have both once again highlighted the need for the United States to have a renewable energy agenda going forward.

I think the president did notify Congress that he was going to take action. I think it is going to be limited in scope. I think it is consistent with siding with the aspirations of young, more educated people who are seeking a new direction for Libya in the 21st century.

But it all goes back to the 5 million barrels of oil that we import from OPEC on a daily basis and the Republicans in Congress -- and I'm just going to finish on this note -- last week in the House of Representatives, in the Energy and Commerce Committee, stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of their ability to increase the fuel economy standards of the cars and trucks and planes and trains that we put the oil into. And, by the way, in a bill that passed three weeks ago, zeroed out all the loan guarantee money for wind and solar, while leaving in the money for nuclear power.

So, this is the time for a great debate: Japan and Libya, oil and nuclear. What is our future? And if we are going to have one, shouldn't it be one where we tap into our own technologies, our own abilities, to be able to provide the electricity we need with the indigenous natural resources we have in our own country rather than dangerously playing games with OPEC countries or with the nuclear technology which is inherently unsafe.

So, I think that all Americans know why the president made this strike. As long as American soldiers are not on the ground, as long as no bloodshed is attributed to our young men and women, then I think its a good decision for the president.

Mitchell: Thank you very much, Ed Markey.

So, at least one Democratic member of Congress doesn't believe that the U.S. launching missiles into Libya primarily because of humanitarian reasons. Libya's exports oil to many countries, including Italy (32 percent), Germany (14 percent), France (10 percent), China (10 percent), and the United States (5 percent), according to Reuters. Many of these nations, including Italy, France, and the U.S., are part of the international coalition gathered to enforce the UN no-fly zone over Libya, according to Defense News. China continues to pursue its diplomatic strategy of letting the West secure its access to natural resources in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, while speaking out against such efforts.

China's position is well calculated. Shukri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation, explained that future oil deals from Libya will depend on whether or not nations joined the international coalition against it, the Gulf Daily News reported. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," he said. "If someone stood with you, you cannot tell him no." Ghanem said he is looking to work closer with China, India, and Brazil in the future.

As Oil & Gas Journal reported on Friday that the West's access to oil in Libya is in doubt if Gadhafi remains in power.

“If Gadhafi wins, Libya will look to the east for support,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar, in a telephone interview with the Financial Times. “Western companies won’t get back in any time soon and won’t be able to invest.”

And Moammar Gadhafi is threatening to destroy the oil infrastructure as he struggles to remain in power.

“We will not leave our oil to America or France or Britain or the enemy Christian states that are aligned now against us,” said Gadhafi in a lightly veiled threat to destroy the country’s oil and gas facilities in the event his forces are defeated.

So even if, as President Obama explained going to war with Libya is to "protect Libyan civilians", others, including members of his own party, see the use of "limited military action" in Libya as more motivated by oil than humanitarian concerns for the people of Libya.

Updated by Magnifico at Tue Mar 22, 2011 at 10:54 AM PDT

The New York Times has a story today, China Steps Up Denunciations of Bombing Campaign Against Libyan Military, about their diplomatic stance. Clever game China plays pretending it isn't interested in Libya's oil.

In its decision to abstain rather than block the resolution through its veto power, China said it was heeding the wishes of the Arab League and the African Union, which supported the imposition of the no-fly zone.

The Chinese media has been more vociferous in expressing opposition to the military campaign against the Libyan government, with articles and commentaries depicting the American-led assault as an attempt to grab that country’s oil resources and expand American influence in the region.


Originally posted to Magnifico on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 03:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Eyes on Egypt and the Region.

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