Peak Oil News: Neoreality: Peak Oil And Iraq

Monday, December 05, 2005

Neoreality: Peak Oil And Iraq

By Bill Henderson

A dispassionate observer from the outer space may watch with amazement how an incredibly complex and resourceful society of Homo economicus, armed with the most advanced technology and all of the knowledge amassed through their entire history, that is voluntarily, with determination, even enthusiastically painting itself into a corner and reduces its future options to what in the game of chess is termed zugzwang (compulsed move) -- by deferring the recognition of the Universe's challenge until the crisis that is currently clearly visible on the horizon becomes detectible through economic and monetary mechanisms, signals from which in this particular peculiar civilization apparently take precedence over the other six senses.
Dmitry Podborits

It is perfectly reasonable that American military casualties are the American public's prime concern in Iraq but quite clearly there is much more at stake.

If Saddam's Iraq really did threaten even one more 9/11 scale terrorist attack then present American casualties preventing such an attack - 2,100 dead, 16,000 wounded - would be considered a reasonable use of American soldiers.

But much more to the point, what level of American casualties should be spent to keep America from economic and social collapse? What is the real game going on in Iraq?

Prescient Canadian peak oil and politics commentator Jeff Berg explains the necessity of casualties in Iraq this way

"(I)t will take much more than the death of a few thousand soldiers and the addition of a few hundred billion to the U.S. government debt (200B adds 2.5% to America's debt load) to make them walk away from access to the hundreds of trillions of dollars, at current prices, worth of hydrocarbons that the region will extract over the next 50 years. (likely thousands of trillions at future prices)

Their financial if not moral calculus becomes even more understandable when you consider that even this amount is literally tiny when you compare it to the economic multiplier effect that having oil and gas allows to the industrialized world. The money multiplier is nothing to it. Consider. By some calculations every barrel of oil carries the equivalent of 23,200 man hours of work in the physics sense of the term. Oil and natural gas are like air, water or soil, in that they are easy to take for granted until you lack them.

Oil is the very lifeblood of the now globally franchised American Way. 60% of the world's reserves are located in the Middle East. And oil, cheap conventional oil (and natural gas if not coal), looks increasingly like a peaking then rapidly depleting resource. Even an oil price spike to $100 a barrel could be the end of civilization as we know it if enough bubbles burst. As James Kunstler has pointed out there is no O-I-L in WITHDRAWAL.

"There has, as yet, been no candid debate in the mainstream U.S. media, still less in Congress, on the controversial question of America's war aims. Why did the U.S. make war on Iraq? The official reasons - Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and its links with Al-Qaeda - have now been shown to be lies. What then were the real reasons?

"It would seem that men like Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Bush himself - advocates of using military power to shape the world to America's advantage - were persuaded that Iraq presented a tremendous prize. Its oil reserves were equal to those of Saudi Arabia; its reconstruction was estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars to American firms; while its strategic position made it an ideal place from which to project U.S. military power to the oil-rich Gulf and to a vast region beyond. Seizing Iraq and turning it into a client state was a tempting goal.

Peter Seale

Commentators have been focusing on John Mueller's analysis of the ratio of body bags to domestic polls in previous American wars, but Iraq isn't Vietnam and the US can't withdraw from the mess the 'geopolitical fantasists' have made in the Middle East with their cynical aggression in Iraq. There's no retreat possible and watching a delusional Hillary Clinton and the Dems trying to find a winnable position on Iraq and winnable ways of saying get our boys home soon is pathetic.

We can't go back to decades old market control of oil with American forces ensuring a calm Persian Gulf. There's no going back. Cheney and Co stuck a stick in a hornets nest but the territory is far too important, far too crucial for America's future to leave. And so some are going to get stung and the dead in Iraq will, in all probability, be just the first casualties on the resource war path that no reasonable American would have chosen.

A Pandora's box has been opened. The future of the world is at stake here because this region, Iraq, is the defining challenge of our time ... We need to close this in a way that does not produce huge problems down the road, that ultimately produces isolationism at home and a world with far more security problems than at present.
United States Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad

Peak oil is the looming reality and the Bush Admin couldn't resist the temptation to seize Iraq and American soldiers aren't leaving. Zugzwang. And all of us aware of the bigger picture, of our serious situation - all of us blue-staters, North American 'friends' and former members of what was once The West, all of us globally that have no power but will be perhaps terminally effected - just watch and wonder if waking up is possible.


At 6:18 AM, December 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always get a cynic's giggle out of discourse over the Bush administrations' (both of the family) oil-related activities in the international community. An economy IS its corporations. America's corporations have done a heck of a job bringing home the bacon for Americans. When they saw German, French and Russian companies jumping into Iraq to get good deals on Iraqi oil when Iraq was supposed to be under UN-sponsored embargo, AND American companies could not compete, a huge power shift was imminent. The US moved to enforce an embargo and to level the playing field for its corporations - its economy in fact. The mater is a bit more complex than this but not much.

So, the issue was not lack of oil supply but lack of CHEAP oil supply.

In the "Peak Oil" curve, there is a long, gentle slope of production behind the steep rise to peak. It shows much more oil being produced after peak than before - just at rapidly increasing cost.

So the price of oil and competitive health of the US economy is the issue - not whether we are about to freeze in the dark.

There are a couple of greater threats to the US economy just now - greater by far than this petroleum thing. Nobody talks about these other more imminent and real ones because there is less of a conspiratorial, adventurous tone to them:

1. health care with an aging population and expensive new treatments
2. the unnecessary loss of jobs to foreign countries who do not live by the same (expensive) rules of civil liberty as North Americans
3. coping with round after round of natural disaster - re-building after hurricane damage, replacing vast quantities of aging infrastructure - etc. If the global warming thing is real,it is to late to prevent it with Kyoto-type programs. We better get ready to address the symptoms - like drought and water management plus a host of other measures.

These Peak Oil discussions are such supreme nonsense in the circumstances of 2005.


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