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...or so said both Le Monde and the Financial Times, the two leading European newspapers, over the week-end.

Eric Le Boucher, the resident (neo-liberal) economist of Le Monde wrote his most recent Saturday column about peak oil. I barely had the time to enjoy the fact that peak oil was even mentioned as such (and given an appropriate definition: the moment when oil production will start to inexorably decline) that the column moved in a totally unexpected direction: the only apparent problem with peak oil is that it has given the idea to oil producing governments that oil is - gasp - a weapon, and that they are going to use for unconscionable policy goals.

Meanwhile, the FT tells us that "US military sees oil nationalism spectre".

Adapted from a European Tribune story.

Le Boucher states that the West (consuming countries) have the choice between two attitudes: The first one is to wage wars of aggression to protect 'our' resource. He wisely notes that the recent Iraq war has shown that this option is now essentially unavailable as it failed to improve oil production in Iraq, it generated more terrorism and created hate for the West. The second attitude is to "count on the wisdom" of the producing countries to keep on selling us the resource, avoid politicising it, and keep on receiving Western know how and investment.

Sadly, writes Le Boucher, nationalist policies by governments that closely control national oil companies and use them for 'ugly' geopolitical purposes (read: hostile and/or detrimental to Western oil majors) play against their populations and ultimately make them poorer (he bizzarely gives the examples of Venezuela, whose production, according to him, dropped by 48% since 1998 - the real number is less than 10%, from 3.2 to 3 mb/d, and Iran, whose production, he says, has dropped from 7mb/d to 4mb/d - when its production was 3.6mb/d in 1998).

He makes his own the suggestion by Mandelson (the EU Commissioner for trade and a close associate of Blair) to have oil subject to OMC rules and arbitration, which would prevent it from being used for political purposes, and concludes, grandly:

L'or noir verrait sans doute son beau statut dégradé mais ce serait in fine protéger les pays producteurs, lisez les peuples, des sottises glorieuses du nationalisme.

Black gold would lose its importance, but that would end up protecting producing countries, and their peoples, from the follies of nationalism.

Yes, the best way to protect poor countries from the corrupting effects of oil wealth and power is for them to give up that power, and hand it over to the Western companies.


No mention that we might need to reduce our consumption. No mention that it is our own wasteful habits that put us in the position to depend on oil producing countries and hand them that purported power over us. No mention that the money is actually being spent to a large extent (like in Venezuela and Russia) on the helathcare and education of the poor in these countries. No mention that we have been exploiting these countries for decades, interfered in their internal affairs for just as long, encouraged corruption and graft, so long as the oil flowed to us, and never care about their populations.

And now that oil is scarce, and the balance of power has changed, we go holier-than-thou on them? Give me a break.

Same attitude from the US military, as reported in the FT:

Future supplies of oil from Latin America are at risk because of the spread of resource nationalism, a study by the US military that reflects growing concerns in the US administration over energy security has found.

An internal report prepared by the US military's Southern Command and obtained by the Financial Times follows a recent US congressional investigation that warned of the US's vulnerability to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's repeated threats to "cut off" oil shipments to the US.

The Southern Command analysis cautions that the extension of state control over energy production in several countries is deterring investment essential to increase and sustain oil output in the long term.

"A re-emergence of state control in the energy sector will likely increase inefficiencies and, beyond an increase in short-term profits, will hamper efforts to increase long-term supplies and production," the report said.

Now, it's natural for the army to worry about these things; it is actually a threat to our current way of life; but (i) if our reaction is shaped by the army, it's likely to include some form of violence (which does not seem to work), and (ii) why don't they even think about discussing how our way of life is set up and how it could be made less vulnerable - by, you know, wasting fewer resources that we need to get from elsewhere?


And European leaders and pundits seem to be just as clueless as American leaders and pundits on this.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:38 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Only if the Commies control the resources (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    'Events are in the saddle and ride mankind.' Emerson

    by deepsouthdoug on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:40:51 PM PDT

  •  unfortunately (6+ / 0-)

    The military budget is so huge and everything else (State Dept, etc.) is so starved that they make the plans for energy, diplomacy, techonology, and so on.

    •  If all you have is a hammer... (5+ / 0-)

      everything starts to look like nails?

      I don't really blame the military on this one. They are doing their job to identify threats and vulnerabilities. it's just a shame that the only solution our politicians (and pundits) can think of is to blame others for what are essentially our own failings, instead of looking at ways to actually change things.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:44:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cheney & Military run the whole show (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      environmentalist, lgmcp

      The real "decider" is Buckshot Cheney, he just lets Bush think that he is running things, it makes a good show to have the duly selected leader out front.  But Buckshot has basically been doing whatever he wants to from day one of Bushco.

      Invade Iraq?  Yessir, Mr. Buckshot!
      Bomb Iran?  Yessir, Mr. Buckshot sir!
      Take out Korean Missiles?  Uh no, we don't want to showcase the fact that Star Wars is just a useless boondoggle, just talk them out of launching.

      Buckshot Cheney always chooses the course forward, Korea must really have nukes if he is not ready to attack them.  Plus of course Korea has nothing that we want, no profits for Halliburton there!

  •  On a very connected theme (5+ / 0-)

    I've heard that Russian television recently (last day or so) broadcast rather embarassing telephone conversations between the Premier of the Ukraine (Julia Timoschenko) and the American Ambassador in Kiev dealing with the manipulation of gas conduits to try and split Russia and the EU.
    I can't find anything, has anyone heard of this?

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:43:41 PM PDT

  •  If we just start now... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, LithiumCola

    Same question as always:  what do Americans love most?  (1) Their auto-mobile lifestyle based on the automobile (2) giant ego-enhancing conspicious resource consumption (e.g. giant SUVs for commuting).

    If we truly prefer our mobile lifestyle, and we get to work now, we can keep it for at least another hundred years and perhaps forever.  To do this we must get to work on alternatives and improvments NOW.  Better 20 years ago, but I think there is still time if we start now.

    But if we just want huge ego-stroking oil burners, well, then I don't see much hope.


  •  I dont know. (7+ / 0-)


    I just dont know.  But its not just the leaders.

    Yesterday, the Albuquerque Journal (NM) had a story about parking problems near the historic Santa Fe Plaza.  Evidently, the people that work in the businesses in the area are racking up HUGE parking ticket bills because there is no place to park.  The story had a number of quotes from people insisting that the City MUST provide them with better parking options.  The City response?  We will.  In fact, we will be building to massive parking garages ASAP.  Not one mention in the entire article about bikes, buses, bus lines.....nothing logical.  

    I read Diamond's book last year and thought - nah, we'll figure it out before its too late.

    But I'm starting to think we wont.  We are too fucking stoooooopid.

  •  Time to get off oil. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    environmentalist, esquimaux

    Our real enemy is our government and business leaders' unwillingness to find a renewable, practicable (any one see longitude?) energy source.

  •  Resource nationalism (6+ / 0-)

    As far as I can tell, "nationalism" is a word that refers to the attitude of a government that listens to its citizens.

    See also, "extreme nationalism" which is when a government listens to its citizens even after the U.S. governemt asked it not to.  See Hungary, Wolfowitz.

    "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

    by LithiumCola on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:46:28 PM PDT

    •  sounds like Chomsky (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and in general, yes, all kinds of derogatory rhetoric will be used against anyone inconvenient to neo-con policy.

      In this case a simpler definition of Nationalism might also be true. Looking out for the interests of one's own nation before others. In a specially enlightened nationalism, they might have a government which looks out for the interests of all the people of that nation.

  •  Jerome-a-Paris (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    environmentalist, va dare

    Have you read John Perkins book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man?  Your answers are all in there.  It's not about national leaders it seems, it's about the "corporatocracy" and in this case big oil.  

    Winning without Delay.

    by ljm on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:50:35 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Tom! (7+ / 0-)

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting the result of war between two rival groups of Programmers

    by buhdydharma on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:51:34 PM PDT

  •  The control of oil is meant as a long-range (6+ / 0-)

    geopolitical strategy.

    I suspect that the acquisition of dominance over the oil supplies of the Middle East through the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq was very much the principal motive behind America's invasion and continuing occupation of that country.
    However, I'm convinced that it was meant as a long-range strategic move. Hence, it doesn't matter at all if Iraqi oil production doesn't immediately (or even within the next five-ten years) increase or even attain the level under Hussein. The important thing is establish control now for the future, the next twenty-thirty years when the exploding economies of China and India will be starving for oil. America's control of M.E. oil at that time will give it unprecedented power.

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:52:10 PM PDT

    •  Or of course, China and/or India (4+ / 0-)

      will invent an alternative energy source and snicker all the way to the bank--while America sits on a pile of sand surrounded by very, very hostile people.

      "Help us to save free conscience from the paw -- Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw." --John Milton

      by ohiolibrarian on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:54:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course that might well turn out to be the case (5+ / 0-)

        that's the funny thing about Realpolitik - it's often out of step with reality...

        That's why, perhaps in the long-run it's better to do the right and just thing (like not invading and occupying other countries on pretexts) rather than try to be clever, scheming political visionaries...

        we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

        by Lepanto on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 03:00:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not even that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They could also try not building their entire transportation infrastructure on the foundation of cheap oil. The E.U. and Japan tax gasoline at about $3/gallon more than the U.S., and their per capita oil consumption is about half of the U.S. The fact that France consumes half as much oil per capita and they're still worried about strategic access to oil shows how far we have to go.

    •  Very much possible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      environmentalist, viscerality

      At least that makes some kind of sense, even if we see it as deeply misguided. All other explanations make no sense.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:58:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Or unprecedented incentive to extort the US (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      environmentalist, viscerality

      with the huge piles of Treasury Bonds amassed by China...
      I completely agree with your view; the diving force behind US presence in the Middle East or Central Asia is to control the dwindling oil resourses. This is, however, a flawed strategy, I believe: the dey that China wants to unsettle the US by backing insurgent type upheavel it will probably be relatively easy, given the widespread animosity against the US in its new 'colonies'. Backing popular uprisings (Vietnam, Afghanistan), is a great and cheap way of bleeding a powerful rival.

      •  Yes, I think America's invasion and occupation of (3+ / 0-)

        Iraq needs to be placed in a very broad and long-range context of an eventual confrontation between the US and China.
        I wonder how wise the US is being, though, by embedding itself this way in Asia? Might it not have been better to concede the Middle East to Asian powers and concentrate on developing better relations with (rather than alienating and antagonizing) countries on America's doorstep, such as Venezuela?

        we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

        by Lepanto on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 03:05:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Probably. Instead they have now ventured in... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          what used to be called the Great Game, the struggle for domination over Central Asia, that played out between Russia, China and Great Britain (then in control over India). At that time the Brits ruled the waves and had all the money and technology in the world (sound familiar?) but still found intself constantly outmaneuvered by tsarist Russia. This will be the case this time around also: the Russian, Chinese and Muslims will still be around those parts when the US has long since packed up and left. Similarly, the Iranians might seem a mismatch for the US in the Gulf. But they have the one thing the Americans lack: staying-power, which is all that matters.

          •  There's, moreover, the striking difference that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the British Empire at its height, the last quarter of the 1800s, for all its faults was a remarkably well-run and informed enterprise. Whereas, alas, American intrusions in Asia seem to be always characterized by a remarkable naiveté accompanied by the conviction that everybody takes for granted that America is the "good guy", etc. Whereas, more often than not, the conception that non-Americans have of America and its doings in such places as the Middle East is quite other. This, of course, leads to catastrophes such V.N. and Iraq...

            we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

            by Lepanto on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 03:49:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Couldn't agree more, the British (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ran their empire with a smooth mix of calculated savvy and ruthlessness that seems well beyond the US. That's one of the most astonishing lessons of the Iraqi adventure: on the one hand the awesome might of the US military, on the other the bungling, naive nature of their foreign policy that manages to antagonize the very nations the US can't afford to make hostile(Russia, China and to some extent the EU). The British were, you'll have to give them that, competent, if cynical and selfserving. They controlled much of the globe with ease and small resources, whereas the US seems to be choking on two medium-sized countries.

              •  That's why the British managed to earn (0+ / 0-)

                incredible loyalty and respect from their colonial troops - just think of all the (present-day) Indians and Pakistanis who served in the old Indian Army right up to WWII.
                Of course the British too made a mess in Iraq and Palestine from the 1920s onward, but by then times had changed with the awakening of Arab nationalism - which they somewhat cynically attempted to repress after having encouraged it as part of their war against the Ottoman Empire during WWI.
                Be all that as it may, any country that invades and occupies an Arab country today and thinks it will be welcomed by its people is living in dreamland and a victim of its own propaganda.

                we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

                by Lepanto on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 04:35:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  These people make me sick. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, viscerality

    "Oh, please, you oughtn't politicize oil. That just wouldn't be very nice of you at all. We've never politicized it, after all. We would never dreeeeeam of politicizing commodities, especially important ones like oil." I can hear Homer Simpson at his most sarcastic saying these things. Jesus, what flaming hypocrits and liars these people are. They must have a pretty low opinion of their audience to keep spouting this swill.

    As to nationalism, it always seems to piss off the powers that be when people in other countries lay claim to our resources, which through some fluke wound up in their countries.

    This disingenous neo-liberal hand-wringing goes along with the frame that unfortunately many Democratic figures are spouting: that we must break our addiction to foreign oil. It's not the foreignness of the oil that's the problem, people!

  •  Welcome, Jerome (0+ / 0-)

    to the self-interested lies of idiots.

    Ever wish there were One Big Wiki-Style Clearinghouse for all the GOP Scandals? Well now there is.

    by thereisnospoon on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 08:02:41 PM PDT

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