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Geopolitics - July 21

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Encroachment
(Failure in Iraq and the prospect of fascism)

Stan Goff, From The Wilderness
...The strategy of Cheney’s Centurions was to kill two birds with one stone: Establish a large and permanent military presence in the biggest global oil patch by repositioning US military forces from their now anachronistic Cold War dispositions, and thereby put the imperial hand on the Earth’s oil spigot as leverage to use against China and others…but especially China...

. . . it didn’t work.

Now the class upon whose shoulders the Cheney Centurions ride is grown restive, and they are figuring out how to send them home with the least disruption, so someone can try and figure out how to un-fuck the mess they’ve made.

Elevating the position and status of Iran, allowing the breakaway of Latin America, building the basis for a resurgent American left along with a growing sector of secessionist-minded libertarians, stimulating around a billion Muslims into a sullen fury, destroying the myth of American military supremacy, degrading the armed forces, de-legitimating the US state itself, and raising the price of oil on top of an historic debt overhang… wasnot what they’d bargained for.

...Lest anyone grow giddy over these developments… or complacent, I would remind readers that this does not present us with a resolution, but with an immanent re-formulation of the problem. First, I will note that those elites who are alarmed will inherit the same contradictions faced by the Centurions. Finally, I will note that a “middle class” in crisis is a dangerous beast, and we now find the country that I live in expressing an ominous outburst of xenophobia. Bush’s recent deployment of the National Guard to the US-Mexican border – while serving to take the public’s eye away from other matters for a moment – was also his capitulation to the demands of fascists...

. . . the US is not immune to real fascism, which historically is a phenomenon of a “middle-class” thrown into deep economic crisis.

Bush and Cheney are failing, but the conditions they have created, and those created by longer-term secular trends, are nothing about which to be complacent. The dangers we face in our next period could be even worse than those of the Centurions.
(July 2006)
Final article in a series. "From the Wilderness" membership is required to see the entire article.


An Imperial Defeatist-- And Proud of It

Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch via Common Dreams
Just recently, I was accused by a writer for the ultra-Right Washington Times of being a "defeatist" when it comes to America's expansionist military policy abroad. The giveaway, it seems, is that I penned a book for the American Empire Project -- a series of critical volumes published by Metropolitan Books. Contributors to the series, the article claimed, want "a retreat from Iraq to be the prelude to a larger collapse of American preeminence worldwide." My initial response on reading this was to insist -- like so many anxious liberals -- that no, I am not opposed to American preeminence in the world, only to continued U.S. involvement in Iraq. But then, considering the charge some more, I thought, well, yes, I am in favor of abandoning the U.S. imperial role worldwide. The United States, I'm convinced, would be a whole lot better off -- and its military personnel a whole lot safer -- if we repudiated the global-dominance project of the Bush administration and its neo-conservative boosters.

Supposedly, the U.S. military has expanded its presence and combat role around the world to foster democracy and prevail in the President's War on Terror; and, without a doubt, many brave Americans have risked their lives -- and some have died – in the pursuit of these noble objectives. But this is not, I believe, what has motivated Messrs. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in their pursuit of global supremacy. Rather, they appear driven by a messianic determination to impose American dominance on large swaths of the planet and to employ this hegemonic presence to gain control over global energy supplies. In attempting to do so, they are bankrupting the nation and exposing American citizens to a higher, not lower, risk of terrorist attack.

...[This is a] a neo-imperial strategy not even faintly aimed at "democracy," but rather at the procurement of energy sources -- or the control over the distribution of oil and natural gas to other energy-hungry nations.

...This is not likely to be a passing phenomenon. The United States is becoming ever more dependent on imported energy -- most of which will have to come from what the neoconservatives of the Bush administration term the "arc of instability" -- and our military strategy is being reshaped accordingly. At present, we obtain nearly 60% of our petroleum from foreign sources; before long, it will be 70% or more. To ensure that these imported supplies safely reach our shores, the Department of Defense is devoting an ever increasing share of its troops and resources to the defense of foreign pipelines, refineries, loading platforms, and tanker routes. Essentially, the U.S. military is being converted into a global oil-protection service -- at great risk to the lives of American servicemen and women.

In response to all this, I say: repudiate empire, overcome our oil addiction, and bring the troops back home. This will save lives, save money, and restore America's democratic credentials. Even more significant, it will help us prevail in any long-term struggle with small, stateless groups that employ terror as their weapon of choice.

...So yes, I'm a "defeatist" when it comes to imperial expansion. But I'm a hawk when it comes to overcoming terrorism, saving American lives, averting environmental collapse, and promoting core American values. This is the only truly patriotic course that any of us can espouse.

Michael T. Klare is the Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of "Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum" (Owl Books) as well as "Resource Wars, The New Landscape of Global Conflict."
(19 July 2006)
It's not just liberals who are disenchanted with the neo-conservative project. There's a similar revulsion against empire building and oil dependence on the part of some U.S. conservatives and centrists. -BA


The geopolitics of oil gains a new constituency

Yankee, The Oil Drum
The issue of Ms. Magazine that just hit the newsstands has a cover story called "Crude Awakening: How US war policies sell out women in favor of Big Oil". The main thrust of the article is that in order to gain control of the oil supplies in many Middle Eastern countries, the United States is willing to overlook how these countries consistently violate women's rights. The article isn't online, but here are some snippets to give you an idea.

Whether or not this blood-for-oil scenario is the whole story, the new Iraqi constitution and laws already passed there contain far stronger guarantees for major U.S. oil interests than they do for the women of Iraq. Women's rights deteriorated rapidly after the first Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein sold them out to religious fundamentalists in order to consolidate power. The U.S. had the opportunity to restore much of what was lost after the 2003 invasion. But in the period leading up to the election of the National Assembly, our government ignored demands by Iraqi women's organizations to create a women's ministry, appoint women to the drafting committee of Iraq's interim constitution, pass laws codifying women's rights and criminalizing domestic violence, and uphold U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325-- which mandates that women be included at all levels of decision-making in situations of peacemaking and postwar reconstruction.

The author, Martha Burk, goes on to say:

In contrast, Big Oil is well protected in the constitution and through laws. The constitution guarantees the reform of the Iraqi economy in accordance with "modern economic principles" to "ensure...the development of the private sector"--essentially abolishing Iraqi state dominion over its petroleum reserves. Corollary laws guarantee that foreign companies will have control over at least 64 percent of Iraq's oil, and possibly as much as 84 percent.

I'm very glad to see the issue of the geopolitical implications of oil spread to as many new constituencies as possible, but I just find the link between American oil lust and the trampling of women's rights a little tenuous. The author doesn't convince me that there's a direct connection between oil policy and the US turning a blind eye to women's issues...

While any magazine has the right to take any angle they want on their articles, I can't help but feel that this is a missed opportunity. Peak oil is an issue with a feminist angle, and it would have been more valuable for there to be an argument pointing these links out and giving readers material to work with. A couple of months ago, Energy Bulletin reran an article original published in Adaptation Blog called "Post Petroleum Woman". The article, written by Carolyn Baker, is a different flavor of feminism to be sure. It's also considerably more alarmist than the Ms. article, but Baker, as well as a blog post by jewishfarmer at Relocalize.net, bring up some points that I would like to see raised by a more mainstream feminist magazine. For example, from jewishfarmer:

The way women live now in the Western world is almost entirely a result of cheap energy and its byproducts. I think it would be easy to lose track of how much contemporary feminism, with its focus on women in the workplace, and on the politics of equality is shaped by cheap energy in the forms of birth control, easy access to medical care, formula, breast pumps, drive-to daycare, Social Security, etc... I am a feminist, and enormously grateful for what feminism has given me, but I also feel that women have not carefully enough interrogated the degree to which their options are dependent on carbon exploitation.

(19 July 2006)
The article in Ms. is titled "Crude Awakening and is the cover story for the month.
(18 July 2006)

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