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UN poised to pass Iran sanctions despite threat

Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian
The United Nations security council is finally expected to pass a resolution today to impose international sanctions on Iran for the first time since the 1979 revolution, a punitive move that will heighten diplomatic tensions and risks a military confrontation in the Gulf.

Iran has threatened immediate retaliation, even though the proposed sanctions have been significantly watered down this week. Tehran’s options include withdrawal from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, which would mean Iran would conduct its nuclear programme free from international monitoring, and possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the channel for 20% of the world’s oil supplies.
(22 Dec 2006)

U.S. plans naval buildup in Gulf to counter Iran

CENTCOM plans to use ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ officials tell NBC News
The U.S. Central Command is aggressively planning a naval buildup in the Persian Gulf, including the addition of a second aircraft carrier, in response to a series of aggressive actions by Iran, U.S. military officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
(19 Dec 2006)
Meanwhile: White House, Joint Chiefs At Odds on Adding Troops

Finally, Wisdom in Washington On Our Oil Future

Raymond J. Learsy, Huffington Post
During this holiday season, I bring you tidings of great joy: Finally, an organization in Washington comprised of Americans of standing and competence that is speaking the truth about our precarious supply of oil and what we should do to meet proliferating threats around the world. The only real and lasting solution to energy security, these wise men proclaim, is to change consumption patterns here at home.

… retired Air Force General Charles F. Wald member of the Energy Security Leadership Council of SAFE (Securing America’s Energy Future) has returned to Washington with a mission, broadcasting his organization’s warning that there’s no way America can live up to its promises under the Carter Doctrine — even if we had the troop strength, which we don’t. The 1980 Carter Doctrine outlined our intention to secure Persian Gulf oil from a belligerent and communist Soviet Union…

Wald now finds the Carter Doctrine is obsolete, and thinks the Pentagon needs to devise a more centralized plan for energy security that incorporates all military branches. He is hopeful that new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will give the issue more attention than Donald Rumsfeld did. But even so, Wald is convinced — and I share this concern though he knows far better I do– that no combination of guns and diplomacy can secure the global fuel supply. The threats are simply too diverse, and the will of everyone involved too weak, to keep the danger constantly at bay.

Wald, a veteran of Vietnam, the Balkans, and Afghanistan, spent his final tour of duty as the deputy chief of the U.S. European Command, which also oversees Africa and parts of Central Asia. It’s a massive territory that straddles potentially enormous supplies of petroleum, and it didn’t take the general long, as Wall Street Journal reporter Chip Cummins wrote this week, to recognize the vulnerabilities for the oil-rich Caspian Sea and West Africa, two of his areas of responsibility. The latter is a rebel-infested area plagued by crime and poverty, while the Caspian region lives in the shadow of an increasingly provocative Russian government not shy about energy saber-rattling. And in reality, of course, the threat of terrorism is virtually omnipresent, existing wherever oil flows.

…Wald’s organization, SAFE, would have our policy makers clearly understand that in this century the global oil market is far removed from what we hold to be a free and unfettered market. That we must recognize that between 75% and by some estimates 90% of all oil and gas reserves are held by national oil companies, partially or fully controlled by their governments. That in essence oil markets have become largely politicized and that market forces alone will not solve the problems of oil supply and security. Therefore a new definition of energy security is needed, one that relies not on tough military and foreign policy, but on a strategy that emphasizes reduced consumption of oil. It further needs to take into account how global warming might impact U.S. energy and environmental security in the future.
(21 Dec 2006)
The SAFE organization mentioned by Learsy is only one of several to be lobbying for energy security. The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) is another. -BA