Iraqi oil and peak oil: our true 'flawed intelligence'
By Jim Horne Minter
Down in mythical Mosquito County, the Sunshine Reporter emerged from retirement long enough to talk with freshman journalists over at the community college about a subject close to his heart: how the media's failure to understand energy has helped to keep us all stupid about the big changes that are coming down.
Their conversation speaks to a few of the energy basics most Americans still refuse to understand.
Question: So we went to war with Iraq because of "flawed intelligence"?
Answer: No, the Iraqi invasion was publicly advocated by the neo-cons before Dick Cheney brought them into the administration. The prime flawed intelligence was in the "Groupthink" of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rice, Libby, et.al.
Q:So why did Dick Cheney invade Iraq?
A: To gain control of Iraqi oil. (Stay with me here: The record is clear.)
Q:Then, why are our troops still in Iraq?
A: Because those stubborn Iraqis won't surrender control of their oil.
Q:So, when the Iraqis surrender control of their oil our troops can come home?
A: Well, actually, no. They will have to stay there to protect the companies that are pumping the oil.
Q: How long will that be?
A: A long time. Depending on whose figures you use, Iraq has the fourth-largest oil reserves in the world. There are also reports of a huge untapped oil field in western Iraq.
Q: Does Congress understand this?
A: Of course. It's not said that bluntly, but "settling the questions of Iraqi oil" is a major pre-condition for ending the "war." (Our military actually won the war in the first few months. Ask our troops. What we have had since then is the dirty, dangerous military occupation of a defeated nation.) Everyone on the planet understands all of this except the American public.
Q: Why don't the news media tell us this plainly?
A: Ask them. Some are cowed or lazy. Some aren't too bright. Some think it is unpatriotic to peek behind official news release language. Some of the best have tried, and they will tell you that we simply don't want to hear it. There is no excuse for the editors.
Q: But isn't this immoral?
A: What are you driving? Dick Cheney said plainly, "The American lifestyle is not on the table." Look at the price of gasoline. We need that oil. In the secret White House "energy strategy conference" that Cheney convened before 9/11, they were using maps of Iraqi oil resources. This was revealed in a court-ordered freedom of information hearing until the Scalia court intervened and reimposed the secrecy shield.
Q: That's not a very pretty picture.
A: Grow up. We are all unindicted co-conspirators. The real secret that Cheney and the oil companies know, but dare not tell us, is that we are at or nearing the long foreseen "peak of global petroleum production." (Ask Tony Blair. Britain's North Sea oil production peaked in 1999. In five years, the U.K. went from an oil exporter to an oil importer. Mexico, our third-largest oil supplier, peaked four years ago. This year, it's cutting our imports by 11 percent. Russia and Iran are also "at peak," as is Saudi Arabia's largest oil field: Ghawar. And, oh yes, China hit peak in 1993; the U.S. hit it in 1970.) Yet world petroleum demand continues to rise. Why do you think Cheney continued filling our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, even at yesterday's inflated oil prices? It was smart. Look at today's prices. Oil prices must continue rising. Speculators may be driving the oil price spikes. But the world's thirst for oil is in a growing demand against a depleting supply. "Peak" is merely the beginning of a steep and bumpy road down that supply curve. We cannot make any intelligent decisions about our future until we face this.
The truth is that the American lifestyle is on the table. No matter whom we elect president, the economic picture does not get prettier in the coming decade. Our auto-centric lifestyle is in for painful adjustment. Why? Because, the entire sprawl-mall and suburban-commute infrastructure that we have built since the end of World War II is based on cheap petroleum. We must face some hard truths about ourselves and the world we are heading into.
Q:What kind of world are you talking about?
A: Consider that, in the 1950s, an hour at my minimum-wage, after-school job bought me five to six gallons of gasoline. In the 1970s, an hour of minimum wage work bought my daughter about three gallons of gasoline. Today, with only one in three teens even able to find a minimum-wage job, an hour of work will buy my granddaughter a gallon and a half of gasoline.
There is no planning and little preparation for the times that we are entering. It's too late to do many of the most effective things we should have started years ago. The Great American Joyride has been motoring toward this reckoning for decades, but we don't want to hear it. And even at this late date, we're still not ready to elect any leaders who try to tell us ... so none are.
Q: Why do you keep saying Cheney?
A: Isn't that obvious? In spite of the White House press corps?