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Geopolitics - Sept 25

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Appeasement Driven by Oil
The Bush Administration and Darfur

David Morse, TomDispatch
[Introduction by Tom Englehardt]
Strange, isn't it, how reductive our world sometimes turns out to be? Bring up any subject these days -- try genocide in Darfur, for example -- and sooner or later you seem to end up talking about oil. At this moment, the world is experiencing an energy race. Think of it as the twenty-first century's equivalent of the arms races of the previous two centuries. Everywhere there is a hint of an energy source or resource, you find a mad dash for the (black) gold.

The Middle East may be the oil heartland of the planet, but in a world in which energy demand is on the rise and fears of limited energy reserves are rising as well, Africa, like Central Asia, suddenly finds itself in the crosshairs of oil exploration. The Pentagon is soon likely to announce the setting up of its own Africa Command, with new basing moves on the continent sure to follow. Though such developments are invariably presented in the context of the President's Global War on Terror, they are essentially energy moves.

As David Morse indicates below, we are hardly alone. In Sudan, for instance, along with the Europeans, the Chinese are now major players and the ongoing slaughter in Darfur turns out to be significantly connected to oil exploration. In late August, the Bush administration launched the mid-term election season in this country with a round of "appeasement" charges against the opponents of its war in Iraq. Morse, an expert on the situation in Sudan, considers that charge of "appeasement" in the context of the genocide in Darfur and the oil race in that region. Tom
(25 Sept 2006)


Now, Oil-Rich Leaders Mock Bush Team

Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Last week, the presidents of Iran and Venezuela took to the podium at the U.N. General Assembly to lambaste President Bush, with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez going so far as to refer to Bush as the devil.

That rhetoric drew harsh condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike, with some conservatives seizing the opportunity to bash the United Nations as well, which is more than a little silly. (Getting mad at the United Nations for being the setting of such speeches is like getting mad at Turner Field because the Braves have played so poorly.)

However, Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have more in common than their dislike for Bush. It is no coincidence that they also head two of the most oil-rich countries in the world. Through our nation's dependence on oil and our decades-long refusal to pursue energy alternatives and energy efficiency, we have contributed to giving Chavez and Ahmadinejad the money and power to behave as they do.

The problem is, most of the steps that would ease our dependence on foreign oil have been fought bitterly by our own oil industry. Higher taxes on oil consumption, tougher fuel-efficiency standards on automobiles, substantial investment in energy alternatives - it has been impossible to get such ideas even considered by those now holding power in the United States.
(25 Sept 2006)

Blair wades in to Russia oil crisis
Oliver Morgan and Nick Mathiason, The Observer
Tony Blair has made clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin his deep concern over threats to strip Shell of its licence to operate the $20bn Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project off the east coast of Russia.

It has also emerged that Gazprom, the giant Russian state-controlled energy group, is in negotiations to buy into the neighbouring Sakhalin-1 project, led by Exxon of the US. Russian authorities have warned that Exxon, too, may face revocation of its licence on this project, due to cost increases. The development could spark a serious deterioration in relations between Washington and the Kremlin. ..
(24 Sept 2006)

World Bank Profits From Poor Countries - Report
Anil Netto, Inter Press Service
The World Bank receives more from developing countries than what it disburses to them says a new report released Tuesday as finance ministers endorsed a controversial new Bank plan to tackle corruption in developing countries.

The Social Watch Report 2006, released here at the annual meetings of the Bank group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressed the need to reform the current international financial structure.

Net transfers (disbursements minus repayments minus interest payments) to developing countries from the Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction (IBRD), have been negative every year since 1991, the report pointed out. ..

Meanwhile, critics say the Bank has embarked on a public relations offensive using the good governance and poverty eradication rhetoric to mask its unpopular neo-liberal agenda of ‘deregulation', privatisation, and removal of government subsidies for essential services. ..

''The World Bank is promoting ‘market assisted land reform','' said Henry Saragih, general coordinator of La Via Campesina, the international peasants' movement. He said this was done through a process of privatisation of land markets, which distributes land to the rich who can pay for it. He noted that agribusiness firms are getting more powerful while small farmers have less access to land. ‘‘Farmers consider land as a source of livelihood, culture and community life and not as a commodity,'' he said.

In many countries, Bank-funded projects have evicted rural communities from their land, benefiting transnational companies and marginalising local communities. For decades, peasants and indigenous communities have opposed mega projects funded by the Bank such as the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand and the Kedung Ombo Dam in Indonesia. ..
(19 Sept 2006)
See also 'Shut them down!' - Air Jamaica, sugar too big a strain on Government, says IMF .


West bars Arab bid at IAEA to rap Israel atom "threat"

Mark Heinrich, Reuters
VIENNA (Reuters) - Western nations foiled a bid by Arab and Islamic states on Friday to declare Israel's reputed nuclear arsenal a threat that must be removed in a politically charged vote at a U.N. atomic watchdog meeting.

Canada sponsored a 45-29 "no-action" ballot that prevented International Atomic Energy Agency member states from voting on a motion demanding Israel use atomic energy only for peaceful purposes and help set up a Middle East nuclear arms-free zone.
Israel neither admits nor denies having atomic weapons but most experts believe it has about 200 nuclear warheads.

Feverish negotiations failed to dissuade Arab delegates from pushing the two resolutions to a vote due to heightened resentment over Israel's battering of south Lebanon in war with Iranian-backed Hizbollah guerrillas.
(22 Sept 2006)

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