Geopolitics - Nov 13
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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
The Global Response to a Terror-Generated Energy Crisis
Multiple authors, Heritage Foundation
In June 2008, The Heritage Foundation invited energy scholars and policy experts to participate in a computer simulation and gaming exercise assessing the economic effects of a global petroleum energy crisis. The exercise was similar to the previous energy study conducted from 2006 to 2007, but larger in geographic and economic scope.
The Heritage team simulated the effects on world oil supplies, demand, and prices after a major terrorist attack on oil exports from Saudi Arabia and resulting disruption of oil shipping lanes between the Middle East and major Asian economies.
The Heritage game demonstrated the vulnerabilities of the global system's capacity to produce and deliver oil supplies to a concerted transnational terrorist threat. This exercise also suggests that major producer and consumer nations and key geo-strategic allies acting in concert with one another while protecting their own national interests could ameliorate the severity of long-term disruptions. Reliance on market forces and coordinated security activities did much to help restore the confidence of markets and consumers.
(10 November 2008)
UPDATE (Nov 14)
A reader objected to this excerpt, writing:
"What level of political sophistication would be necessary to see the blatant Zionist strategy connecting this rather obvious (almost childish?) preparation for an attack on Iran and an ensuing "energy crisis?"
We post excerpts that represent many parts of the political spectrum. Our posting an excerpt does NOT mean that we agree with it. In this case, I think it is important to see what the conservative intellectuals at Heritage Foundation are thinking about energy issues. Given the background of the Heritage Foundation, it is not surprising that the report recommended "market forces and coordinated security activities." In contrast to some other conservative organizations and military observers, the report did not address peak oil, nor take seriously the strategies of efficiency and conservation. Compare the approach taken by Paul Rogers in the next excerpt. -BA
The SWISH Report (advice to al-Qaida about Obama's presidency)
Paul Rogers, openDemocraacy
In light of Barack Obama's victory in the United States presidential election, the al-Qaida movement once more solicits advice from the renowned management consultancy.
A ninth report from the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics to the al-Qaida Strategic Planning Cell (SPC) on the progress of the campaign.
Thank you for inviting us to submit a further report on the progress of your movement.
... Although this is very much a preliminary assessment, we feel [al-Qaida] you should be guided by the risk that Washington's policies will alter in a manner that could seriously damage your movement. In this context, what should be your greatest concerns; and does a Barack Obama victory make it more likely that any of them will be realised?
There are five main risks:
- The new administration plays a far more positive role in insisting that Israel negotiates a lasting settlement with the Palestinians
- The new administration makes rapid progress in moving the US towards a non-oil-based economy, thus decreasing the long-term strategic importance of the Persian Gulf region
- The new administration speeds up the process of disengagement in Iraq - completing the withdrawal of all combat-troops within two years, scaling down training and other elements to less than one-fifth of current overall personnel levels (from 130,000 to 25,000), and declaring a willingness to establish a timetable for a total withdrawal
- The new administration changes policy on a further build-up of forces in Afghanistan and engages more systematically in negotiations with Taliban elements
- The new administration seeks broadly based multilateral cooperation on many issues, not least climate change, demonstrating a style of international engagement that is in marked contrast 2001-08 period
If all of these policy changes were to be embraced, then we have to say that your movement would be in serious trouble. For the moment we cannot be sure how far the Obama administration will go, but we can offer five pointers.
The new president: five pointers
- The first is that the new administration will be heavily preoccupied with the domestic economy, to the extent that this will dominate its first year at least. At the same time, there will be rising concerns over the intensifying conflict in Afghanistan.
- The second pointer is that its relations with Israel will depend substantially on the outcome of the forthcoming Israeli (January 2009) and Iranian (June 2009) elections. If Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad win their respective elections, an Obama administration will face real problems in altering US-Israel policy, even if it wishes to.
- The third is that an Israeli military strike on Iran before Obama's inauguration is by no means out of the question, even with the current disorganisation within Israeli politics. Your movement may have no sympathy for Shi'a Iran, but an Israel attack (and the subsequent inevitable involvement of the United States) would be seen across much of the region as an additional part of a general assault on Islam. As such, it would benefit your movement.
- The fourth pointer is that a speeding up of the withdrawal from Iraq (which would be popular within the United States) is a strong possibility - but there are few signs at present that an Obama administration will go for a fundamental review of US energy policy and a downgrading of the importance of the Persian Gulf.
- The fifth is that there is little indication either of any changed policy towards the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is likely to prove your most fruitful area of operations, though this carries with it a particular risk. If you and your Taliban associates prove to be really successful in facing down US and other Nato troops, the outcome may be that an Obama administration fundamentally rethinks its military posture and wider political engagement in the region.
... In conclusion, there is one potential trend which could cause your movement a range of problems - even there is little evidence of your interest in it or of any direct relationship to your movement and its aims.
... There is now a school of thought in the United States that for the country to face the uncertainties of climate change while being dependent on imported oil is an unacceptable combination. Thus, and notwithstanding the caution expressed above, the new Obama administration could embark on a substantial programme to cut carbon-emissions that would lead the country away quite rapidly from its current oil/gas dependency. Moreover, it could do this in part through a series of federal programmes that would also address the current economic downturn.
Such a policy would take the best part of a decade to have a major impact. Yet its political psychology and social reverberations would mean that over a much shorter period the strategic importance of the Persian Gulf would decrease. If the far enemy began to lose interest in your core region, then your movement really would be in trouble.
Paul Rogers is professor of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England. He has been writing a weekly column on global security on openDemocracy since 26 September 2001
(6 November 2008)
Please note that this article is satire from Paul Rogers. -BA
Russia to deploy missiles on EU border
Associated Press, The Guardian
President Dmitry Medvedev said today that Russia will deploy missiles in territory near Nato member Poland in response to US missile defense plans.
He did not say whether the short-range Iskander missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.
In a state of the nation speech, Medvedev also blamed the US for the war in Georgia and the global financial crisis. He said he hoped the US president-elect Barack Obama would act to improve relations with Russia but he did not offer congratulations to the president-elect...
(5 November 2008)