An Interview with Michael Klare

Note: this story initially ran November 6, 2006. If there are other stories you would like to see re-run, email the eds box. Also, if you are so inclined, this story has been resubmitted to the link farms such as reddit and digg...

Dr. Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. One of the world's leading experts on the energy geopolitics, Klare is perhaps best known for his history and analysis Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum. Klare is a frequent contributor at TomDispatch, where he provides a welcome alternative to the mainstream media's spoonfed pablum concerning crucial issues like America's preemptive war on Iraq, the Iranian nuclear stand-off and the global chess game to control oil & natural gas resources.

Michael Klare

Klare's presentation at ASPO-USA is nicely summarized by Chris Vernon of The Oil Drum's United Kingdom section —please read Chris' report along with this interview. At the conference, I arranged to e-mail him some questions which he kindly took the time to answer. Subsequently, we did a follow-up interview on the phone. Both the questions and answers are presented verbatim.

[editor's note, by Dave Cohen] I asked Klare about Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, Bolivia and geopolitical issues in South America but he declined to answer, stating that he does not watch events in that region closely. In a follow-up phone interview, I requested further clarifications and asked some additional questions. I am DC and Michael Klare is indicated by MK. I have paraphrased his remarks on the phone. These are summarized by notes inserted in the text. Some links have been added where appropriate.

DC: You have written "Beware Empires In Decline", referring to the United States. Generally speaking, what do the historical precedents tell us about the geopolitical behavior of such empires, particularly as regards what you have termed "senseless, self-destructive acts"? Also, please touch on why you think America is indeed in decline.

MK: The establishment and maintenance of an empire is an immensely energy-demanding enterprise. It takes enormous energy and resources to conquer foreign nations, maintain overseas garrisons, suppress rebellions, administer colonies, pay the salaries of soldiers and imperial bureaucrats, key fleets at sea, and so on. Every empire that ever was has struggled with this dilemma, and every empire that ever was collapsed sooner or later when the expense of maintaining the empire exceeded the revenues obtained from possessing the empire. For the United States, I believe, Iraq represents that turning point: before the United States entered Iraq, it was the dominant world power and possessed the strength to exercise hegemony in almost every corner of the globe; but the Bush administration vastly miscalculated the costs of occupying Iraq (now estimated at $1-$2 trillion) and that misjudgment will so deplete the US Treasury that American will never be able to undertake such a costly imperial undertaking again -- not without bankrupting the country and reducing us all to beggars. This having been said, the reality of our altered circumstances may not penetrate the thinking of our top officials, who may falsely believe that we still enjoy our pre-Iraq preponderance of wealth and power, and so undertake Iraq-like adventures abroad that will cripple this nation forever.

DC: Moving on to specific cases, let's talk about Iraq. Skipping over the reasons for the war itself, which have been thoroughly discussed, tell us what you see happening in Iraq going forward. There is apparently a civil war now in progress between the Shia' and Sunnis. You've said that something like the Dayton Accords (agreed to for Bosnia in 1995) is necessary now, Baghdad must become a neutral, international city and the Sunnis must have a share of the oil revenues. Do you think there is any chance that all or some of this will actually happen? Doesn't history tell us that such civil wars, once started, take many years, if not decades, to get resolved? Already, there is a significant refugee problem. How do the Kurds fit into the picture? Finally, the United States can not remain engaged at current troop levels in Iraq forever. What do you think will happen there?

MK: Well, it is obviously risky for anyone to make predictions about Iraq today, given the volatility of the situation there and the failure of all previous efforts to establish order in the country. However, let me begin by saying that Iraq was an invented country -- it was invented by the British during and after World War I to facilitate their exploitation of the oil in the region. They created the fictitious "Kingdom of Iraq" by patching together three provinces of the former Ottoman Empire, Mosul in the (mostly Kurdish) north, Baghdad in the (mostly) Sunni center, and Basra in the (mostly) Shiite south, and by parachuting in a fake king from what later became Saudi Arabia. To keep this patchwork together, the British relied on bribery and sheer force -- the same tactics employed by Saddam Hussein when the British were forced out. So the United States faces an existential choice: copy the British and Hussein, and use force and bribery to keep this mess together, or find some way to allow it to revert to its original condition with a minimum of bloodshed. I favor the latter as the most realistic option. This will not be easy, I know, but the other choice is now untenable. I think that once it becomes clear that Iraq will devolve into three states with an internationalized Baghdad and some provision for dividing up the oil revenues fairly (as I propose) -- and that American forces will begin leaving -- the various elites will sit down together and work out a modus operandi for making this happen. I think that this formula will also make possible the deployment of an international peacekeeping force under UN auspices that all sides can respect, instead of a US-dominated force that is a flashpoint for so much violence.

Note on Iraq: Refugees are pouring out of Iraq into Syria, Jordan and the other surrounding countries. When I asked Klare about the view that this exodus would destabilize those countries, he emphasized that many of Iraq's "best and brightest" were the ones fleeing the situation. The loss of Iraq's educated, professional classes leaves the poor at the mercy of the "thugs and crooks" taking advantage of the political chaos there.

DC: Shifting over to Iran, you are on the record as saying that you expect a military action -- specifically a "Shock & Awe" bombing strike --- in 2007. Do you still believe that will occur? Such an action would seem to imply that America has learned no lessons from Iraq, yet the fallout from such an action could be disastrous, especially in its effect on the oil supply & price. What do you think the consequences would be? Would there be spillover to Iraq and, if yes, what form might that take? Similar questions apply to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

MK: Yes, I do believe that the US will conduct air and missile strikes against Iran in 2007, unless Ahmadinejad capitulates to Western demands and abandons uranium enrichment, which I don't see happening. I think Bush did learn something from Iraq: If you're going to invade a country because of suspicious WMD behavior, FIRST EXHAUST ALL DIPLOMATIC OPTIONS before your resort to force, so you can claim you had no choice in the matter. Bush was criticized because he rushed into Iraq before allowing the diplomatic process to run its course, making America look like a trigger-happy cowboy state and sparking anti-Americanism around the world. This time, he will not act until the Europeans say "We've tried eveything, and nothing worked," and UN sanctions haved proved to have zero impact. Then he can say to Congress and the public: "Look, I did it their way. I exercized Job-like patience. But the national security of America is at stake here, and I can wait no longer." In the meantime, he will fill up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to deal with an oil crisis and station more U.S. forces in the Gulf to deal with various imaginable forms of Iranian retaliation. I still think there will be chaos, but I don't think that this will deter Bush from going ahead with an attack on Iran.

Note on the fallout of an attack on Iran:

Klare assumed that any U.S. bombing attack would include plans to take out Iran's conventional missile batteries, thus hampering their ability to disrupt shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Persian Gulf and
the Strait of Hormuz

Klare therefore anticipated an asymmetric Iranian response—for example, mining the Strait and attempts to sow chaos in all the Shiite regions of the Middle East, including Southern Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This would lead to U.S. countermeasures and further escalation of conflicts in the region.

DC: In the last few months, there has been a steep decline in the oil price, partly attributed to the lifting of the "risk premium" regarding fears of major supply disruptions in the Middle East or other regions. Yet, it would seem in your view that the risks have not gone away and, in fact, the geopolitical situation is deteriorating, not getting better. How do terrorist acts against oil & natural gas production facilities -- for example, Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia -- affect the risks? Please comment on the oil price decreases and how you calculate the current geopolitical risk premium on price.

MK: Well, the fear premium was half driven by a possible war with Iran and half driven by fears of another hurricane season like 2005, with Katrina and Rita. Obviously, neither of these occurred. Had either occurred, the premium would have been justified. So what is the probability that we will go through another year with (a) no major crisis in the Middle East and (b) no big hurricanes? I can't imagine it's very low. And the fact is, there is very little spare capacity in the international oil equation, while demand is rising steadily. So we have to assume that from now on we will remain just one major crisis or hurricance away from another spike in prices; and if we get both of those together, we'll have a super-spike.

Note on Terrorism: I asked Klare about the geopolitical importance of terrorist attacks against oil production facilities. He emphasized that the word "terrorism" is a bit of a misnomer in many cases. In fact there is a wide spectrum of such groups running the gamut from ideologically motivated jihadist terrorists to quasi-criminal organizations to political reformers, any of whom might carry out such attacks. For example, FARC and ELN in Columbia often act like criminal organizations using blackmail. Seeking "protection money", these groups threaten to blow-up oil pipelines unless they are paid off. In Iraq, Klare spoke of so-called "insurgents" working with oil facilities security organizations in a kind of "revolving door" arrangement whereby the people blowing up the pipelines are sometimes the same people protecting them. Again, this resembles organized crime more than it does jihadist terrorism. On the other hand, MEND, operating in Nigeria's Niger delta, may lie closer to the political reform part of the spectrum.

Klare observed that Osama Bin-Laden's original organization has been largely broken up. Al-Qaeda is now decentralized and not as "professional" as before. Nevertheless, Klare expects continued attacks or threats on oil production facilities like Ras Tanura by terrorist groups.

DC: Tell us your thoughts on China -- a large and rapidly growing consumer of the world's oil & gas -- and Russia -- now the world's largest oil producer and, via Gazprom, the preeminent gas reserves holder & supplier. What is the strategic geopolitical relationship between these two countries? Do you see "Energy Blocs" coming about in the future? If yes, what would these look like? For example, you noted that Japan has cast its lot with American energy interests. Please comment.

MK: There is no doubt that China will need a great deal of energy in the years ahead, and that it will be competing with the United States for access to overseas supplies of oil and gas, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. I think that the Chinese would like to compete with the USA on something approaching equal terms, as one big consumer vs. another - with each side brandishing their giant energy corporations - but I fear that Beijing has become paranoid that the USA is out to limit their access to global sources of supply and so they see themselves being pushed willy-nilly into Russia's embrace. This, at least, is the lesson I think they took from the Unocal fiasco, which I think was a terrible mistake because it suggested that the USA will not allow China to compete with us on equal terms in the global energy market, leaving them no choice but to rely increasingly on Russia and other friendly states like Iran, and to try to seek advantage in places like Sudan, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, and Nigeria, where they see an opening. So yes, I do see "energy blocs" emerging, and I do not think it is a healthy development for world affairs, insofar as it could so easily lead to military blocs, as in the period before World War I.

Note on Japan: In the context of "Energy Blocs", Klare brought up the recent experience of Japan, whose Inpex Holding Inc. had invested $2 billion toward developing Iran's Azedegan field. After signing on in 2004, Inpex could not attract any investment partners from the EU. Under additional pressure from the United States, Inpex was unable to proceed with its Azedegan plans, which finally resulted in Iran cancelling the contract as reported by Rigzone, who also tell us that "Japan is Iran's largest foreign oil customer, purchasing 581,000 barrels of crude a day last year, or 14% of Japan's total oil imports." Before the action, Bloomberg had reported that:

Japan, which imports almost all its oil, needs the $2.5 billion [Azedegan] project to help boost overseas oil assets to 40 percent of imports by 2030. Iran is trying to ward off sanctions demanded by the U.S. for its nuclear development program and may strengthen ties with countries such as China and Russia by allowing greater access to the oilfield, said energy researcher Tomomichi Akuta.

"China and Russia are freer to act against what the U.S. says, while it's hard for Japan to," Akuta at UFJ Institute Ltd. said by phone today. "From Iran's point of view, countries such as China have more credibility when it comes to implementing oil projects under the current circumstances."

Now, there is talk that Japan will turn to Iraq and Indonesia to try to meet its future supply needs.

DC: Nigerian production has been subject to large disruptions for some time now through the operations of MEND in the Niger Delta. Angola is increasingly an important oil exporter, especially to China. Overall, the Gulf of Guinea is now, and will remain for some years to come, a key regional production center for light sweet crude oil. Will the West intervene militarily in West Africa? Would this bring it into open conflict with Chinese interests there and elsewhere in Africa?

MK: Bear in mind that "military intervention" typically occurs along a spectrum, beginning with the transfer of arms, followed by the deployment of military instructors and advisers, then the use of special forces attached to local irregular forces (e.g., the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan), and only then, in the final stages, regular combat troops. It may be some time (if ever) before the USA reaches this final stage in Africa, but it has already commenced the early stages (arms transfers and instructors) and there have been reports of US special forces operating against extremist Islamic groups in the Sahara region, so I would say that the process of intervention in Africa is well under way. The Chinese are also engaged in indirect forms of intervention, most notably in Sudan, where they have assisted the northern government in its efforts to suppress the SPLA in the oil regions in the south. I do not believe that this will ever lead to a direct clash between US and Chinese forces, but I certainly anticipate other forms of friction between the USA and China in Africa. Indeed, this has already begun: for example, the US has sought to isolate the Sudanese government at the UN Security Council, while China has resisted such efforts.

DC: Finally, will you comment on the likelihood of fossil fuel resource wars in the future? Here, I have in mind actual military conflict. Perhaps you could also touch on some regions I haven't mentioned above such as the FSU countries in and around the Caspian Basin, the South China Sea, etc.

MK: I assume you're distinguishing here between civil wars over the allocation of resource rents, like those now under way in Iraq and Nigeria, and full-scale war between the major powers over access to oil-producing areas. Wars of the first kind are happening now, and I would expect more of them in the future. As for the second, I think we have to consider the problem of "unintended escalation." I do not think that any of the major powers will deliberately choose to provoke a war over oil, as when Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies in 1941 (and bombed Pearl Harbor as a preemptive move against likely American retaliation), but I do think that they may engage in provocative behavior that could lead to accidental escalation under conditions of panic, confusion, and over-reaction (as in the circumstances that triggered World War I). A possible flashpoint for such a scenario is the East China Sea, where both China and Japan have deployed military ships/planes in a disputed energy zone and employed them in a threatening manner, risking potential panic fire and escalation to actual war - a situation that could get out of hand quickly and lead to full-scale war. So yes, in this sense, I think war over oil and gas is entirely possible.

I wish to thank Michael Klare for taking time to talk to The Oil Drum. Clearly, geopolitical events have the power to trump more pedestrian supply & demand calculations in the future.

Dave Cohen
TOD Contributor

Terrific interview, Dave -- thank you!

I am especially interested to get Klare's take on the possibilty of China and the US entering into direct conflict.  As I suspected, the big energy consumers will want to avoid direct military confrontation as much as possible.

Such a confrontation would not live anyone in any kind of shape to claim "victory" I think.

The potential for escalations seems very great, though.  If the US does attack Iran, I see the possibility for such escalation as being very great.

And it does seem that geopolitics affect immediate supply more than geography, at the moment.  But is that because the geographical realities are a long-term trend that does not register as starkly?  If supply was easy diverse, and abundant then the geopolitics would matter less.  With supply so tight, the geopolitics related to oil are brought to the forefront of our attention...?

Just noted that Dave's header to this interview is dated today Jan 27 2006 but all of the responses are dated Nov 06 2006.

Thought this might be a date stamp error in Drupal but then found Leanan was speaking of the "elections tomorrow" which confirms the November 2006 date.

Just posting this against the first comment to determine what time stamp comes up.

BCR have already started talking more explicitly about oil as a reason for staying in Iraq (perhaps because they can now truthfully say that they brought up the subject before the midterm elections).  

In any case, I predict that they will bring it up much more forcefully in the months ahead--something along the lines that "If we withdraw, we will be paying "X" dollars for gasoline."  

And again, IMO the big Oil Patch news next year will be the confirmed production declines in both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Ah!, you are back....good.
On the Larry Kudlow show on CNBC this afternoon, two reasons for staying in Iraq were discussed.  If we abruptly leave:  (1) oil prices would probably hit $100 per barrel and (2)  the stock market would fall.  

Kind of gives the parents sending their only child off to Iraq warm fuzzy feelings doesn't it? Go in  harms way so that we can have lower gasoline prices and higher stock market prices. . .

if it's expensive to stay and extremely expensive to leave in the short term, where does that leave the US, other than going bankrupt between a rock and a hard place?
Don't you think Kudlow is maybe a little bit over the top? Isn't he on at 4 or 5, right after the closing bell? He's entertainment. Smart guy, but he made his deal with the devil a while back. He's just trying to provoke. You guys need to stop watching TV so much. And if you do, watch Bloomberg. It'll help you do what you should be doing, which is reading and writing.

Maybe I missed it, but I'm completely baffled by why nobody has mentioned the very, very long article in the NYT Sunday Business section on Kazakhstan. It reads like the real-life Syriana. SAT? What? Too busy with the Wall Street Journal?

$78 million in bribes approved at the highest levels. Everybody denying involvement from Goldman Sachs to ExxonMobil to CP and BP. You would not believe the people involved. The only one who they want to hang is Giffen, I think was his name. Trial starts in February. They are saying a guilty verdict for him will bring down Nazarbayev. I don't buy that last claim. This is, after all, Nazarbayev.

And the NYT runs the special the weekend Borat opens. Too special. Bob Shaw you gotta take a look at this one. This is what it's all about. The Great Game.

Still available for free from the NYT. Grab it while it lasts.

Oil, Cash, and Corruption

Don't start reading unless you have a half-hour.

I did, and I didn't have the time. Doh. Has me wondering where Wolfowitz's loyalties would lie in trying to stem corruption if he comes up against any of the current US admins friends.
I know I'm going to take shit for this - but in my heart of hearts, I believe "Wolfy" is a good person. And always has been. But again, put my known personality defects aside before you start to explore that. I'm in love with the McNamara parallel at World Bank.

This one will kill me - I hope Rummy finishes his assignment. I really do. I'm less confident it will happen than I was 3 months ago. But he just has one more 2-year tour to do. It would be the best thing for this country. We need to heal our wounds. We need to spend the next 2 years thinking about who we want to be our next Secretary of Defense. And our next State. and CIA. and FBI. and NSC. and a whole lot of other stuff.

Don't sacrifice that for the pleasure of crucifying somebody you have had it out for - for 6 long years. Kill the Hate.

Who will you replace him with? Who? You have no FUCKING IDEA. YOU HAVEN'T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

Did you really want Bush to appoint his successor? Duh.

Sorry, that wasn't aimed at you, Mike. Boy, you know how to get me started, though. I've got an interesting relationship with this war. I hope to write about it at some point. I'm completely detached. And I wish I wasn't. I didn't vote for these people, you did. I hated his father. You loved him. I hated the man his father VP'd. You decided you would turn a Hollywood actor into a hero. But I'm crazy because I think this war was just?
Thats a good point. Kind of like billmon wish that the Democrats' NOT win control of the house and senate, due to his belief that there is even more shit to hit the fan to come, and dems are better staying out of the spray so they can come in clean to pick up the pieces...
I hope, once again, you accept my apologies, my rant wasn't aimed at you. I do like this billmon, thing, though. It looks like a blog, I'll have to read some of it, now. I just like anything that starts with whiskey in a dirty glass. Yeeeeeeeeeeeehhaaaawwww!
No apologies required, it was quite obvious to me the rant was not amined at me.

btw Billmon is brilliant, progressive but independent, his coverage of the Lebanon crisis was second to none, sharp as a knife. His knowledge of history and literature also continualy suprises me... I waste endless time following his links...

Wasting endless time is an art. Someday it will be honored as such. I'm appreciating Leonard Cohen now. I wish I had the opportunity earlier.
"Wolfy" don't ever call me Wolfy - but I realise you were refering to Wolfhistitz.

So your listening to So Long Marriane, John of Arc and Bird on a Wire (with no electricity init)?

I'm at the Oil Depleting Scary Fast Conference in London.  Some great talks and hopefully lined up two guest posts on Peak Oil and Aviation and The (fbig) Energy Gap.

Ill Doomer CW

Yes, I want Rummy out. Rice too. Now. Even under a Bush regime, there is time for damage control. When you're in a hole, the first rule is : stop digging.

Replace them with any two retired generals. (Oh -- if you can find any who haven't criticized the regime yet.) The US military have the training and skills to handle diplomacy and human resources, and they are professionals.

What I'm talking about is a caretaker non-political administration to see out Bush's lame-duck years.

It's not about hate. It's about damage control.

Put Colin Powell in.  The ultimate mea culpa.  Well, short of picking Eric Shinseki...
We've all read the Kazakhstan piece, right? Oh, wait, c'mon go and vote first. C'mon, Leanan, talk to me. It'll be good.
Shinseki is a chump. I rode on a C5 with him right when the whole army was adopting the black beret thing.  He asked me what I thought of it and I told him it was a stupid idea you can't get better soldiers with better headgear.  He gave me a generals coin. He is a politician and not a soldier.


Oh happy day!

When Rummy walked...

Gates. OK, a general would have been better, but an old-school insider is as good as could be hoped. The problem is, he'll be taking his orders from Cheney.

Now. I think Rice should be appointed to the strategically important position of ambassador to Uzbekistan.

What, and not Mexico and the North Sea?

This is still your strongest argument tex...The decline in the North Sea is proven, how much will it speed up? The decline in Mexico is proven for now, is there anyway the Mexicans can turn back the tide in less than a half decade even IF the oil is there in other fields to offset Canterell?
Russia? Wild card. Saudi Arabia, pure conjecture, and the surprise could even go the other way to the high side on production, with BIG developments still possible, (not assured, mind you, but possible)

Long story short though, if the North Sea, Mexico, Russia, and Saudi Arabia all begin to fall at once, and noticably, not just this measurement error stuff,
it's going to be a long hot summer, tex wins the hand, and you might want to leave the RV in the driveway....

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom.
Roger Conner

Dave - I'm stuck at Aberdeen Airport waiting on my delayed flight to London where I will attend the Oil Depletion conference tomorrow.  If the organiser were organsiing this today they may have wanted to call it the Oil Very Rapidly Depleting Conference - which as you know is the case in the UK.

Was wondering if MK will be calling by to answer questions - as you know i was big diasappointed that Mat did not call by on Saturday.  A couple of serious questions for MK:

I had a chance discussion the other day with someone who suggested that the Gulf Princes, who are fabulously wealthy, helped finance Alqueda.  A system of protection money was described, whereby, monies paid guaranteed that Gulf State property would not be a target.  This lies very close to the description above of organised crime.  Does MK consider this to be a possibility?  If so, then those buying oil from same Gulf States could be regarded as sponsoring terrorism and do you think the US should then  unilaterally place oil import embargoes from these counries?

IMO an attack on Iran will lead to Iran cutting oil exports - and wreaking havoc throughout the region - I don't think they will need missiles to hit tankers in Hormuz.  Really hard to see how the OECDS best interests might be served by this course of action.

My flight has been called si I gotta fly - as they say.


"an attack on Iran will lead to Iran cutting oil exports - and wreaking havoc throughout the region "

And what happens without an attack on Iran?

Does the world avoid havoc and chaos if the US or any other former empire-now-Needy does not "attack" Iran (limited attack or otherwise)?

As the availability of oil declines, how long before others go for the pistol in the center of the table?

SOP - yes, thats the $50,000 question - but how did we reach this point where there are two courses of action, and both are totally crap - its basically not very smart to manoevre into a corner like this - two choices - be hung or be shot?

In the interest of being provacative - and bearing in mind It's Iran's oil - how about trying to work out a way of improving relations with Iran - so that they no longer pose a threat?

Impossible perhaps?  It all comes back to Israel, Palestine and Hitler I believe?  Still hope that MK calls by to post some views.

Not impossible.  Scott Ritter offers The Case For Engagement.  (And no, he doesn't mean military engagement.)

[Condi] Rice would undoubtedly be surprised at the degree of moderation (and pro-American sentiment) that exists in Iran today. She might also be shocked to find out that the Iranians are more than ready to sit down with the United States and work out a program for stability in Iraq, as well as a reduction of tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. In addition to significantly reducing the risk of a disastrous conflict, such a visit would do more to encourage moderation and peace in the region than any amount of saber-rattling could ever hope to accomplish. And it would do more to help America prevail in the so-called Global War on Terror than any war plan the Pentagon could assemble. In the end, that is what defines good policy--something sadly lacking in Washington today.
It would take real courage for the USA to explore this route.  I would view it as a sign of strength.
do you suppose the bush administration will ever admit that cave man dipolmacy is a failure    ?   probably about as likely as them admitting iraq is a failure
Do people think Peak Oil is Bush's Fault?  

Do you think the rest of the world will avoid caveman diplomacy if only that mean Bush would get out of office?

Is the rest of the world a passive mass of pansies?  

Is everyone here a cultural bigot?

Let's see - which government figure denied climate change? Which government figure, after giving a number of false reasons is now claiming the reason to stay in Iraq is oil?

Who's daddy, with the same name and oil connections, also participated in the great Reagan era morning in America forget conservation party?

Which countries thought invading Iraq was stupid (and in a couple of cases, actually voting out those office holders who had supported the war), and which ones are still there, staying the course - oops, I forgot, according to Bush, he never said that - and what are you going to believe, what Bush says or what Bush says on videotape in the past?

Starting to see a pattern?

There is no reason not to blame countries with sinking gasoline or oil consumption, increasing renewable energy generation, or higher emphasis on local agriculture with less chemical inputs - after all, the industrial West is itself a problem in this broad framework, no dispute.

But truly, when the Europeans or Japanese start lining up to buy Hummers and McMansions while becoming the fattest people on Earth, ever (we're number 1 indeed), then we can say what Bush represents is irrelevant.

You are right - Bush is becoming shorthand for what could be called cultural bigotry. Which should be really frightening if you care about America, because to think Bush=America is really incredible, but then, that is what the world is starting to think - Americans are no better than a president whose sheer lack of comprehension of his own language and flawed factual framework seems inescapable every time he speaks in public.

Bush doesn't represent Americans. 64% of us agree.
Well, I was talking about how a country like Germany (and from other people I know, other Europeans) sees America. They had thought Bush didn't necessarily represent what America wanted or represented, until he was re-elected.

What struck me, was last week, Die Zeit (a hard to explain, if certainly left oriented, weekly paper) had on its front page the head of the Statue of Liberty, with a red sky behind it, with the headline, more or less - 'Give us the good America back.'

And from the current Zeit web page - I was looking for the German headline, but instead found the article, so here is a taste -

'Amerikaner sind wir alle

George W. Bush ist für Amerikas Freunde eine schwere Belastung. Kann sein Nachfolger die guten Seiten deutsch-amerikanischer Partnerschaft wiederbeleben?  Von Michael Naumann '  

'We are all Americans

George W. Bush is a heavy burden for America's friends. Could his successor re-animate the good side of the German-American partnership?'

The picture accompanying it is of Elvis in uniform getting off a plane with his duffel bag. Remember those days, when even a celebrity could be drafted and felt that serving his country was important?

To keep on -

'Ein Thema wird die Wähler allerdings kaum interessieren: Auf dem Spiel steht auch die Zukunft des amerikanischen Ansehens in Europa - zumal in Deutschland. Sollte mit einem Sieg der oppositionellen Demokraten in beiden Häusern des Kongresses der Abstieg George W. Bushs eingeleitet werden, dürfte ein Seufzer der Erleichterung durch Europas Staatskanzleien wehen, von Polen und Großbritannien vielleicht abgesehen. Dramatisch verlief die Entfremdung seit dem Irak-Krieg zwischen Deutschland und Amerika.'

(Note - this is a very quick translation of some fairly subtle points.)

'One theme won't interest the (American) voters at all - the balance of America's future reputation in Europe - or at least in Germany. If the fall of George Bush can be brought about by the Deomcrats, a sigh of relief will result in Europe's government centers - except perhaps for Great Britain and Poland. Since the Iraq war, the alienation between Germany and America is dramatic.'

For example, Merkel is unlikely to be buying anything from Bush while looking for a little massage, I'm sure.

Yes, the Germans are very nostalgic for a certain view of America - after all, they know all about secret (or not so secret) torture, courts which don't allow any defense, smash and grab for what a democratically elected government feels is necessary to defend its vision, and so on - they have been at the end of the road that America currently seems to be started on.

'Auch hätte sich niemand vor fünf Jahren vorstellen können, schon bald einen Bündnis-Diskurs über die prinzipielle Berechtigung von Folter führen zu müssen.'

'Also, no one five years ago could have imagined that there would be a discussion among allies about authorizing torture.'

I won't go on - except to note that the author notes that even the most rabid anti-American couldn't have imagined the American vice president proclaiming the right of America to torture, and how at this point, such a fundamental position is threatening to split America from Europe since it would seem that America no longer shares the values that civilized  nations pride themselves on.

It is hard to grasp what an utter disaster Bush is for America until you spend some time outside of the U.S.

The article ends by further noting that the constitution the Americans gave Germany at the end of WWII is worth more than  all the CARE packages and the Marshall Plan.

Germans considered America a sort of 'big brother,' a country with flaws, but one worthy of emulation. As you can imagine, Bush does not fit into that picture at all, and it is easier to blame Bush for what happens than it is to confront the fact that maybe what America provided after Hitler was just another mirage, in the end. Yes, Bush is that bad, to cause a certain self-doubt among one of the few success stories of occupation and nation building.

Expat, Die Zeit is certainly a well spoken paper but I'd argue that in this case it aims high and misses the rawness of the German disdain hatred?) for the USA.

Perhaps it only the older generation who feels a nostalgia for the "Good 'ol USA". Among my under thirty peers in Hamburg I have met only dismissal, blind hatred of the US. There is also an unwillingness to admit a close, longstanding relationship between Germany and the US as well as a whole raft of cultural similarities. In the mind of these folks (some very close to me) Bush is not just bad for the US. Bush is the US. Everything he stands for and says is superimposed on the entire culture of the country and most if not all references to the US are made with this indiscriminate scattergun approach.

I am a Canadian, with a finely honed sense of anti-Americanism as well as a raft of American friends and family members. I never in my life thought I'd be jumping to the defense of the United States. But the "schadenfreude" among my peers in Germany is so unbearable that I'm constantly advocating the fact that the US isn't made up of neocon clones with no agenda other than world dominance. This is a painful for a Canadian.

In the end, I think this has more to do with young Germans fighting to regain a sense of pride in their country. German pride is only recently distinct from Neo-Naziism and observations that the world now has other boogeyman nations - like GWBush's USA - make letting the past be the past and regaining some pride in Germany all the easier.
By cultural bigotry I meant the tendency of people to forget there are other countries out there who are very much aware of Peak Energy and may be making plans of their own.  

It seems that even among the Peak Oil Aware narcissism defines the lines of geopolitical considerations.

No but Bush has an appalling record of bad policy, misimplemented policy, political cynicism, alienating allies.

He's always said we should judge his presidency on the success or failure of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Well, both are in unholy messes, with ground being lost every day.

So we judge him.

Who cares what Scott Ritter thinks.  I bet He would negotiate with a child.
Scott Ritter is an interesting guy.

From US Marine intelligence colonel (Schwarzkopf stopped talking to him in the First Gulf War, when he told Schwarzkopf that the US air strikes were not killing the Iraqi SCUDs (they weren't)).

Then UN inspector, pursuing Saddam Hussein quite vigorously.  He was actually involved in a coup attempt against Saddam by the CIA (unwittingly, he says).

Then to peace advocate, saying that by 1998 the UN programme had killed Saddam's WMD aspirations. (true)

Then to anti-war critic, and an early warning of the US plans to invade Iraq. (again true)

Then arrested on a ?statutory rape charge? (he met with a policewoman who he had spoken with through an online chat room).  My colleage at the time was a former South African secret policeman: he just laughed and said 'obvious set up to shut him down'.

Charged with taking money from a businessman allied with Saddam Hussein to make a documentary about the US invasion of Iraq.

Since the Iraq war, he has been warning about US preparations for an Iran war-- up to and including full scale invasion.

He's a guy who has been more right than wrong, for longer.

"how about trying to work out a way of improving relations with Iran - so that they no longer pose a threat?"

How does Iran pose a threat?

How would you negotiate with them to neutralize the threat?

Two years ago Iran didn't have the technilogy to put a glow-in-the-dark face on a wrist watch, now they are on the verge of developing a atomic weapon.

Who's actually buying the crap this administration is dishing out.

Excellent column this morning.  It's nice to see Oildrum taking on hard to quantify subjects like geopoliTics.

Most of the discussion above seems to be from the "declining empire's" point of view.  

But we have emerging energy empires that are more than passive participants.  They may have their own Grand Designs for our Post Peak Oil Humpty Dumpty.  

I wonder how the geopolitical equation looks if they are not examined as passive participants, but rather as actively pursuing their own geopolitical agenda. And how might the Declining Empires of the West respond?

Also, what are The Teams now and what does he see in terms of shifting alliances over time?  


Please folks, make sure to reward Dave with readers by rating this piece at reddit, digg, metafilter, stumbleupon, slashdot, boing, fark, all those places...this is exactly the kind of piece that those places love to read.

Well done Dave.

For the United States, I believe, Iraq represents that turning point: before the United States entered Iraq, it was the dominant world power and possessed the strength to exercise hegemony in almost every corner of the globe; but the Bush administration vastly miscalculated the costs of occupying Iraq (now estimated at $1-$2 trillion) and that misjudgment will so deplete the US Treasury that American will never be able to undertake such a costly imperial undertaking again -- not without bankrupting the country and reducing us all to beggars. This having been said, the reality of our altered circumstances may not penetrate the thinking of our top officials, who may falsely believe that we still enjoy our pre-Iraq preponderance of wealth and power, and so undertake Iraq-like adventures abroad that will cripple this nation forever.

Well, that's a cheerful note on which to start the week.

If the Democrats take the House and/or Senate back tomorrow, can they keep us out of more "Iraq-like adventures"?

This is so ironic.  I know a lot of people originally voted for Bush because they didn't like Clinton's "foreign adventures," and thought Bush would keep the troops home...

The greatest of many mistakes that BCR have made during this last five years is risking US credibility as a war machine. Looking at it cynically, and setting aside the death toll, civil war and destruction created in Iraq; the erosion of domestic rights etc, the US now looks like a paper tiger. It has failed to control a small, impoverished, relatively unarmed nation. It has done so in public and to a general level of revulsion in the world outside the Fox News bubble.

How does that look to others on the Geopolitical stage?
Especially those holding US Debt, or Gas, or Oil? - Two of which are nuclear tipped.

True enough, the US has the fire power to destroy any nation on earth (''of course we may get our hair mussed a little''). But to do that, the incumbent cabal would need the Generals to be on side. Who would side with this bunch of loosers? Who would risk a trial for genocide later if the cabal fall and the cabal is replaced?

It is bad enough that the Generals see a beloved Army being pushed to breaking point in a war without honour or victory. They are intelligent and cultured men, almost always students of history. No longer the stereo-typical types such as Jack D Ripper, Buck Turgidson or Bat Guano.

No. If the cabal dare push further for more wars, then they need to ask themselves:

''Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?''

Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Latin! We are fast becoming a first-class website. I'm hoping others will know immediately what that means.

Of course, I can not pass up an opportunity like this.

"I do not avoid women ...
but I do deny them my essence"

This from Dr Strangelove?
Absolutely. One of the best movies ever made.

Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!

Yee Ha

Yee Ha

Warning CEO Robinson, Warning. Do not click on image. You won't like what you see. You can't handle the truth.

background music

Sellers rules! He made three parts on that movie!
Fucking. Hilarious.

Thank you.

I've been listening to Leonard Cohen. Strangely impressed. 3 songs so far. These guys are amateurs when it come to Stranglove. Although Dave is pretty good. It's not about the movie. It's about Kubrick.

I'm trying to re-educate SAT. He needs to be re-habilitated before he can meet with Dear Leader.

So after Soylent Green, I'm gonna need you to see Spartacus and Lolita.

Re: It is bad enough that the Generals see a beloved Army being pushed to breaking point in a war without honour or victory. They are intelligent and cultured men, almost always students of history. No longer the stereo-typical types such as Jack D Ripper, Buck Turgidson or Bat Guano

I do not mean to ignore your main point here. It is remarkable how many "retired" generals (voluntarily or not) have made strong statements against the neocon agenda. Still, there are those who continue to serve, carrying out the current "mission" -- whatever that is, today -- but we do not know their private thoughts. On the other hand, I an sure there are those who serve loyally under the assumption "my country right or wrong" even as we sink further into this Vietnam-like quagmire called Iraq.

I do not, as some Republican mouthpieces have done lately, blame the military for this hopeless debacle. These people have no shame.

Independently of where I stand politically, I would not blame the generals (pro and contra) for two reasons:

  1. To be a succesful soldier requires a certain mindset which includes following orders. Not blindly but within a legal framework. I don do not believe that that framewrok has been breached. One can abuse a military for political adventures without violating the law and a good soldier will ALWAYS do his job within these confines. That is what good soldiers do. The US does have very good soldiers, by all means.

  2. I will rather see an abuse of the military by the political arena than the abuse of the political arena by the military. If you read your history books, you will find that military dictatorships where the military takes measures in their own hands come as close to hell as one can imagine.

I will agree that what this administration does to the US military is a shame. And to blame the problem on the military is as shameless as it gets.

        He's five feet two and he's six feet four
        He fights with missiles and with spears
        He's all of 31 and he's only 17
        He's been a soldier for a thousand years

        He's a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,
        a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
        and he knows he shouldn't kill
        and he knows he always will
        kill you for me my friend and me for you

        And he's fighting for Canada,
        he's fighting for France,
        he's fighting for the USA,
        and he's fighting for the Russians
        and he's fighting for Japan,
        and he thinks we'll put an end to war this way

        And he's fighting for Democracy
        and fighting for the Reds
        He says it's for the peace of all
        He's the one who must decide
        who's to live and who's to die
        and he never sees the writing on the walls

        But without him how would Hitler have
        condemned him at Dachau
        Without him Caesar would have stood alone
        He's the one who gives his body
        as a weapon to a war
        and without him all this killing can't go on

        He's the universal soldier and he
        really is to blame
        His orders come from far away no more
        They come from him, and you, and me
        and brothers can't you see
        this is not the way we put an end to war.

Buffy St. Marie by way of Donovan

Amen. All true and yet, there is a need for soldiers in the world, like there is a need for police and firefighters. Just because you don't like crime and fire does not mean you can afford to get rid of the people who fight it. It is the same with soldiers. You don't have to wage war with them, but you need them to defend your country.

I am, by the way, a pacifist. I am also a realist who served in an army because he was drafted. I didn't like it but I learned a few things there. One is that professional soldiers are people with political opinnions, voices, families and a sense of duty. I admire some as people just as much as I loath some. I do not loath the institution if it does its duty well.

I do blame the officers. The Colin Powell's, the generals that complain their troops are being misused but continue to follow orders that are illegal, orders that violate Geneva Conventions, orders that violate their officer's oath. Orders that get their soldiers killed pointlessly. Orders that cause their soldiers to massacre Iraqis who are not our enemies (except they're sitting on our oil). We're pushing a million - shall we call it genocide because it is.

What to make of someone like Maine's National Guard commander Libby, who goes to Iraq after two years and comes back saying his troops are being misused? And still stays as their commander? Officers are responsible for the soldiers under their command. Or irresponsible.

Thoreau, Gandhi: they can always resign. But perhaps that would be bad for their lobbying jobs after they leave the service. The higher up the chain of command one goes, the more corrupt. A truck mechanic called up to man a machine gun in a Humvee has little option; the officers farther up the chain of command do have options. And responsibilities.

cfm in Gray, ME

Absolutely. Golden parachutes as lobbyists or in corporate America after their 'service' to Uncle Sam.

The US officer corps is heavily conservative Republican. That is not healthy.

It is your right to clean up this political mess and ask for accountability. No, I correct myself. It is not your right but your duty. Crimes have been committed and they need to be prosecuted. If not by this government, then by the next.

That is how the system works.

"A truck mechanic called up to man a machine gun in a Humvee has little option"

You always have an option. Most people are just not strong enough to exercise it and live with the consequences. Those are the people who are afraid all their lives. The fear is their punishment.

I was in the army once. I was given a nonsensical but legal order. I told the officer that I would not comply. I told him about a better alternative. He threatened me with disciplinary action. I repeated that I would not comply and I told him again that there was a better way. He let me do it my way. Was I afraid? At that moment I was. I was 19 and had no clue about life. I went out on a limb. But later the officer showed a lot more respect for me. I never had to do it again - I wasn't given any more nonsencical orders like that. It does not always work like this, but I have heard similar stories from other people. Sometimes you have to say no, even if you are bound by orders.

As for those who torture: they don't do it because they are told to but because they always wanted to do it and are now being given a "legal" environment to live their perversion. And as for those who order them to: they did pre-select the people for the dirty job. It doesn't work any other way. The Nazis did the same.

On the other hand, I an sure there are those who serve loyally under the assumption "my country right or wrong" even as we sink further into this Vietnam-like quagmire called Iraq.

Don't be too hard on them.  They teach you that, as a military officer, your job is to enforce policy, not make it.  Which is as it should be.  

Besides, everyone saw what happened to Eric Shinseki.  

Which is why they should resign. Their duty is to the constitution, not their career.

(''of course we may get our hair mussed a little'')

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.

President Merkin Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war!

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

"...that misjudgment will so deplete the US Treasury that American will never be able to undertake such a costly imperial undertaking again..."

"The rest of us" can only hope your right!

Great interview, Dave. Its disheartening how the imperialists are quickly destroying Western Civilization. We seem to be becoming a totalitarian state like Rome after the reign of Julius Caesar.
  I guess whats so massively stupid is we could have bought Iraq and paid off Sadam for 1/10th the price of this war and thereby saved 660,000 Iraqi lives and a couple of thousand American lives, proof of the total imprudence of the current government. And, the fault lies both with the Republicrats and the Demicans, and ultimately the American people. Vote against every incumbent tomorrow.
A Graceful Exit by a Former Empire

Author(s): (volunteers ???)

... And Finally...after the USA ceased it's foreign adventures, the rest of the world...


The End.


It should be: "After the USA began its most threatening foreign adventure, the invasion of Russia, the Russians lauched!  Silence reigned over all the earth for 14000 years."
Or as it was put in such eloquent terms by Elwood Blues...

"All right people. The rest of the hard working all star Blues Brothers are gonna be out here in a minute, including my little brother Jake. But right now, I'd like to talk a little bit about this tune you're hearing. This is of course the Green Onions tune. It was a very very big hit in the early sixties in this country. And of course, it was composed and recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, right here in the United States Of America. You know, people, I believe that this tune can be acquainted with the great classical music around the world. Now you go to Germany, you've got your Bach, your Beethoven, your Brahms... Here in America you've got your Fred McDowell, your Irving Berlin, your Glenn Miller, and your Booker T & The MG's, people. Another example of the great contributions in music and culture that this country has made around the world. And as you look around around the world today, you see this country spurned. You see backs turned on this country. Well people, I'm gonna tell you something, this continent, North America, is the stronghold! This is where we're gonna make our stand in this decade! Yeah, people, I've got something to say to the State Department. I say Take that archaic Monroe Doctrine, and that Marshall Plan that says we're supposed to police force the world, and throw 'em out! Let's stay home for the next ten years people! Stay right here in North America and enjoy the music and culture that is ours. Yeah, I got one more thing to say. I'm just talking about the music, people, and what it does to me. And that is, as you look around around the world, you go to the Soviet Union or Great Britain or France, you name any country... Everybody is doing flips and twists just to get into a genuine pair of American blue jeans! And to hear this music and we got it all here, in America, the land of the Chrysler 440 cubic inch engine!"

Klare's comments are interesting, but I think he is wrong not even to mention the overwhelming military superiority the US still enjoys.  Were it sufficiently ruthless, the US could obliterate any nation on earth without risk of military reprisal, except for possibly Russia and China.  If Press and Lieber's article on nuclear primacy in the March/April 2006 FOREIGN AFFAIRS is to be believed, what I have just said applies even to Russia and China.  (The latter is admittedly a controversial thesis, but the mere fact that it can even seriously be argued for in a journal like FOREIGN AFFAIRS is itself a ver significant indication of the overwhelming military dominance of which I speak.)

Klare's prognostications regarding the future seriously underestimate the increasing willingness to resort to increasingly ruthless tactics of total war that will develop among both the US elite and the US masses as the effects of Peak Oil intensify and lead to true situations of socio-economic desperation.

I would add also that the fact that Bush is now ready to speak openly about the oil motive, after having colossally lied about it for so long, is itself an indication of a change in the political atmosphere in the US that goes in the direction of utter ruthlessness.  The elites perceive the situation already to have reached a level of desperation sufficient to inform the masses of the REAL reasons why the latter must be willing to "stay the course" in Iraq.  

The only thing that would disprove this line of argument, it seems to me, is mass moral revulsion among the US masses about killing hundreds of thousands (so far) to steal their oil.  Absent that, we have a clear indication that even the masses, and not just the elites, are willing to kill for oil.  But so far, I do not see any signs of such mass moral revulsion - except among the usual suspects at the fringes of US society.

Good point, Phil,

It would take a mass spiritual transformation to convince most Americans to drop their oil-rich lifestyle and live very simply, maybe as small farmers or local craftspeople.

I gave up on the spiritual transformation theory back in the '70s.

The Pastor of a conservative Evangelical Mega-Church I used to attend in Columbus Ohio has started to speak up against the Iraq war and Republican policy.  His congregation, many of whom are SUV driving McMansion owners, are starting to see things this way.  If even this demographic can start to ask whether this war was immoral, then maybe a transformation can occur.  

Here's a quote from a NYT article about this:

Mr. Nathan of Vineyard Columbus said such disillusionment was common. "How is it that we evangelicals have become the strongest constituency for war of any group in America?" he asked.

When he asked that question from the pulpit, Mr. Nathan said, people stand up and cheer.

And here's the link: xnnlx=1162868900-xJGBtr9/WNk/qH26U3Tacw

Fascinating, and Reverend Cizik (whose boss, at least in a technical sense, just got fired for buying crystal meths from a gay male prostitute) has concluded that Global Warming (man made) is a very real threat.  

He has been slated for it, but if this is real, it represents a huge movement.,,1463406,00.html

Last October, leaders of the 30-million strong National Association of Evangelicals adopted a resolution that emphasised every Christian's duty to care for the planet and the role of government in safeguarding a sustainable environment. "We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part," says the statement.,,1786227,00.html

In his office in Washington DC, Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest such umbrella group in the US, is also feeling battered. His mistake has been to become interested in the environment, and he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda.

Mr Cizik, an ordained minister of the Evangelical Presbyterian church and otherwise impeccably conservative on social issues such as abortion, stem-cell research and homosexuality, believes concern for the environment arises from Biblical injunctions about the stewardship of the Earth. The movement's political leadership, however, sees the issue as a distraction from its main tactical priorities: getting more conservatives on the supreme court, banning gay marriages and overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 abortion ruling.

"It is supposed to be counterproductive even to consider this. I guess they do not want to part company with the president. This is nothing more than political assassination. I may lose my job. Twenty-five church leaders asked me not to take a political position on this issue but I am a fighter," he said.

Another Washington lobbyist on the religious right told the Guardian: "Rich is just being stupid on this issue. There may be a debate to be had but ... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime. Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"

The political implications of this are huge.

The Right is not wrong in saying that there is an element of cultural superiority (snobbishness) in the way the more secular and coastal elements of US society have reacted to the rise of mega churches and the evangelical movement.  I'll come at this from a British/Canadian Anglican (Episcopal) slant: it's hard, sometimes, to believe these people are serious (eg on Intelligent Design).

And yet what the mega churches provide is what churches and synagogues have always provided to their communities: places to meet, Sunday morning activities for the kids, a sense of community.

The cultural splits are clear. (it can be quite shocking, though, to listen to some of the tacticians on the right: their cynicism about using these people is quite striking, sometimes).

The Democrats have always been comfortable with the Catholic Church, and with the evangelicism of the Afro-Americans.  Somewhere they have gotten tone deaf to evangelical (white) Americans.

If evangelical Americans are starting to own 'liberal' issues like environmentalism (and Peak Oil is dovetailed with concern re Global Warming), then the times truly are 'a changing.

Just as the involvement of mainstream religions was crucial to the Civil Rights period in American history.

Nothing empowers a nation, and particularly the United States, like a sense of moral purpose and moral destiny.

As I said yesterday, I too think BushCo is ready to address the issues with oil more openly, but will frame the issue as below:

Yes..could be true.  BCR only has two more years to "ease" the concept of declining worldwide production into the public psyche.  It needs to be firmly implanted within  the minds of the populace in the "correct" framework before the next round of Prez elections.
That framework, in my opinion, is that access to the world's reserves is the right of the entire planet regardless of political boundaries.  Any nation that disagrees is opposed to free and open markets and should be forced to participate.

PhilRelig - how do you think the other powers will behave if they take this threat seriously?

Is the Cold War back - or dead - with Peak Oil?

"Use them or Lose them" because the deterence of Mutually Assured Destruction is mute.  Made obsolete with Peak Oil (mutually assured destruction is ensured by Peak Energy anyway ???)?

Is anyone else in the world aware of Peak Energy?  Does any one else in the world besides the USA have grand designs for the Post Peak (other than the USA)?

Phil: Your thesis that the US elite would condone a nuclear attack on China is not logical. IMHO, if the US elite had to choose between a nuclear attack on New Orleans or Shanghai, NO would be toast. Where is your evidence otherwise?  
They already did that one.
I encourage you to find and read the FOREIGN AFFAIRS article on nuclear primacy that I referenced in my original post.
Phil great article is there anyway we can put a link up....
Phil -- I disagree mightily that the USA could destroy any country without fear of retaliation.  What is spooky is that some people still believe that.

Even if no country responded with formal military retaliation -- which I find highly unlikely -- the assymetrical warfare arising in response would be enough to give the USA pause.

Such an attack would galvanize the many assymetrical opponents of the USA tyo work together, and add more people and resources to their various groups, and also add more people starting additional groups to rebel against the "Mad Empire."  

Secondly, a massive attack on any country sufficient to destroy it would likely involve weapons of mass destruction which would add to the environmental blowback we are already experiencing in myriad ways.

Thirdly, the internal changes in the USA and even in the US military might preclude such an action, or at least make the USA's divorce from democracy complete.  This would disrupt our nation domestically in a way that I would not like to imagine.

The blowback from such a massive attack by the USA would be lethal and would last as long as our species lasts -- which might not be long after such a blunder, one has to admit.

The elites don't necessarily care about the effects of asymmetrical warfare, as it is the US masses, and not they, who would suffer the brunt of its effects.
Oh, yes, the US military is so good that it had a cakewalk in Iraq!
The US could utterly exterminate the population of Iraq very easily if it wished to do so.  That would certainly halt the insurgency.  And I believe it is coming to that point eventually; I thought so even back in 2002, well before the invasion was launched.

For the time-being, the US will continue to try to avoid this by cobbling together some kind of fully pliant puppet regime able to keep the various factions among the Iraqi masses in line.  This policy may well persist for a good number of years.  But eventually, it will fail, and the US will resort to the full extermination option.

See my comments below about "useless eaters."

Plenty of us could be lumped into that category as resources get tighter.

The Iraqis are an obstacle to US polcy now.

Those permanent bases do not indicate any plans to leave.  Ever.

The extermination process is slow for now, but given events that provide a tiny fig leaf of cover, and that could change.

We American have been groomed to be compliant consumers.  Only a minority would complain, and that minority could be dealt with severely. This would involve the completion of our divorce from democracy and transformation into a totalitarian state.

Even so, the rest of the world could certainly bring the Empire down.  There would be plenty of motivation to do so.

PR - so how do you think you'd fair against Europe - 460 million people and two nuclear super powers armed with Trident, Cruise and all sorts of other shit?  Before long we'll have a superior GPS system to you guys too - mutually assured self destruction here we come.

IMHO it really is time to start thinking seriously about using less energy.  You can still get from A to B in a VW Golf or a Smart or a Prius using half the gas, in virtually the same time - all that is lost is a little prestige.

Talking to Nate the other day, I reckoned we need new status symbols - showing off driving around in the most expensive gas guzzling beasts has to go.

"...using half the gas, in virtually the same time - all that is lost is a little prestige."

Assuming you thought that driving a multi-ton sheet metal penis enlargement would buy you any "prestige" with smart people or women in the first place. I don't think it ever did. Certainly not with the smart women I know.

A lot of men don't desire smart women though... that would threaten their ego. They just want a good looking trophy to sit on the shelf/SUV.
The militaries of Western Europe are in fact a complete joke, both from a conventional and nuclear standpoint.  Their conventional armies are little more than scout troops.  Their nuclear arsenals (that is, those of France and Britain) are tiny, and seriously antiquated.  Unlike China and Russia, these nuclear arsenals are not even taken seriously as an impediment to untrammeled US hegemony by high-level military planners in the US.  And what's more, the Europeans are increasingly helpless from an energy-independence standpoint, which will in the long run also render them even more effete from a military standpoint than they are now.

The European elites know all this, and they know in consequence that, in the long run, they will have to prostrate themselves and seek protection from the US military behemoth.

I believe the French described their arsenal during the Cold War as being capable of 'tearing the arm off of a superpower.'

It only takes a few nukes to cause a huge amount of chaos/destruction.

Anyway, the Europeans haven't decided to build up their military because the deal they've gotten from the New Romans across the sea have been pretty good so far. If that changes, they will arm themselves in opposition to us and there would be very little we could do to stop it.

British troops did a lot better than US troops in Iraq. Less violence and insurgency in British-controlled areas. Sure, that's not military superiority in the usual sense, but they're far more than 'scout troops', and military superiority is becoming increasingly more irrelevant in modern asymmetrical warfare.

And I'm not so sure about the energy independence thing, considering the US uses twice the oil per capita.

Still, at this moment in history, the US could wipe Great Britain off the map with military impunity if it so chose, and no one else on the face of the planet could do anything about it, other than writhe in helpless terror.  In the long run, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the US chose some unfortunate country to do just that to at some point in the coming few decades, just to impress precisely that kind of helpless terror upon the rest of humanity, so that they will fall in line and follow orders.  

This would be very much in line with the so-called "Ledeen doctrine," named after Michael Ledeen, which he once articulated as follows at the American Enterprise Institute:  "Every ten years or so, the US has to take some shitty little country and throw it against the wall, just so the rest of the world knows who is really boss."  [That is a fairly accurate paraphrase of the original.]

These kinds of disparities in the world military power equation are rarely spoken of aloud, but they are real nevertheless, and their reality subtly influences the way geopolitical actors act in every facet of jockeying for influence in the world.  Among other things, it will eventually drive the helpless, effete Europeans straight into the arms of their American protector in order to assure their continued access to Russian energy resources.

I believe US military power is bigger than all other military forces on the earth combined. The question is how useful that really is? It would be if the large scale symmetrical wars of the past returns (as some people here seem to be implying, "resource wars"). But i doubt the US would be able to "win" anymore than Israel did in Lebanon, for instance.
The Israelis could wipe Lebanon off the map very easily also if they wanted to.  The Lebanese themselves are utterly defenseless against this.  

Of course, were the Israelis to do such a thing, they would face the insatiable wrath of the entire Islamic world.  Unlike the US, Israel is a small country, with corresponding quantitative limits on the scope of its military prowess.  So they wouldn't be able to survive this lust for vengeance with impunity.  But in the end, they could successfully repel an all-out Islamic invasion through the use of nuclear weapons - what Golda Meir termed the "Samson Option."

I myself believe that it will eventually come to just such an all-out Islamic invasion of Israel, followed by a devastating nuclear retaliation by Israel that essentially wipes out the Islamic world.  I do not believe that any destruction of Lebanon will be the trigger, though; rather, I believe the Islamic invasion will be a surprise attack.

And for those who think that the potential ruthlessless that I am ascribing to Israel is borne of insane fantasy, I invite you to contemplate the meteoric rise to prominence in Israeli politics of Avigdor Lieberman.  A bit of googling will quickly reveal that the man is a brutal thug, who probably would not shrink from obliterating Lebanon should suitable circumstances arise.  He is on public record as having advocated little short of that with respect to Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
<BLOCKQUOTE>The Israelis could wipe Lebanon off the map very easily also if they wanted to. </BLOCKQUOTE>

Are you in some sort of time warp, Phil?

Of course, they could nuke Lebanon, but it doesn't seem to be what you are talking about. Other than that, we have seen that they can kill civilians by bombing cities, but can not take or hold territory, despite throwing in everything they've got, including their "doomsday weapons" (cluster bombs).

So even if Israel were to destroy all the major cities and infrastructure of Lebanon, most of the population would survive, and it would still be "on the map".

Your "Armageddon" scenario is just plain nutty, I'm afraid (an "Islamic" invasion of Israel). I suspect it's strongly influenced by religion, if only subliminally.

The religious influence on some of my own prognostications is not subliminal at all, but very conscious and carefully thought out.  However, I know from past experience on TOD that serious reflection about the world based on orthodox Judeo-Christian religious belief is not welcome, so I will leave the matter at that.

The only other thing I would say is that my grim might-makes-right calculus, based on the primacy of raw power in determining events of human history, is predicated upon a far more realistic assessment of human nature than that adopted by most people who reject religion.  The faith that many Peak Oilers who are hopeful for the future of humanity place in human nature is a blind faith; it is itself a form of unfounded religious belief that is in fact far less rationally defensible than traditional Judeo-Christian religious beliefs.

You seem to be exhibiting the same doom-filled mindset here as in today's thread. Can you outline why any rational Israeli leader would seek to "wipe Lebanon off the map", or name the "Islamic" leaders who you deem likely to launch a surprise invasion of Israel?

You claim that your pessimistic view is based on the fact that people are motivated by greedy self-interest; but you ignore the fact that self-interest is often, even generally, better served by co-operation than by conflict.

But self-interest does often lead to violent conflict of incredible lethality.  I can point to WWII and WWI as leading examples, with hundreds if not thousands of lesser examples throughout history.  At this point in history, humanity is in possession of means of destruction that make the ones available in WWII look like child's play. (Think for example of a modern fighter plane in a battle with a WWII-era fighter plane, or of modern atomic bomb yields and delivery systems compared to those of WWII.  There is no comparison.)

What makes you think that humanity will NOT eventually revert to the kind of mass ferocity associated with WWI and WWII in the wake of Peak Oil?  Nothing could explain such a belief, it seems to me, other than an unjustifiable belief that human nature has somehow fundamentally changed just in recent years, or that it will maybe change just a few years hence.

But self-interest does often lead to violent conflict of incredible lethality.  I can point to WWII and WWI as leading examples

Let's examine these examples. I maintain that they are not illustrations of "self-interest" wars : they were losing propositions for all parties involved.

WWI was triggered by bungling, WWII by ideology.

The various parties to WWI did indeed have conflicting imperial interests. However, nobody launched the war as an instrument of policy. The interlocking nature of alliances, and the strategic constraints of the parties, made rapid escalation inevitable. But it could very well have been prevented, had there been a diplomat/statesman of the stature of, say, Metternich. And all parties would have been much happier and wealthier.

WWII : though it can be described as a "resource grab" on the part of Germany, in reality it was an irrational, ideologically-driven war which can in no way have been said to benefit the German people. It can be argued that Hitler could have won; if he had not attacked the USSR, etc. But the very fact that he did, against all logic, is proof that it was fundamentally an ideological war and not a self-interested one : it required a mystical belief in the superiority of Germans and the inevitability of their victory, to justify it in self-interested terms.

What makes you think that humanity will NOT eventually revert to the kind of mass ferocity associated with WWI and WWII in the wake of Peak Oil?

I will concede that Africa, in particular, will continue to have resource wars; they are certainly not new there.
But today we have rational actors at the head of the major military powers (ok, GWB excepted, but they are not going to let him touch the buttons any more). The salutary corrective reaction of US electors confirms my "faith" in the relative stability of this situation. Russia or China might conduct resource wars, but only if they were damn sure of winning. No way would either one take a gamble or make a blunder like the Iraq invasion. There may be plausible scenarii (takeovers of Central Asian republics?) but they will not be cataclysmic.

Europe will not launch resource wars, because democracy will hold, and will demand moral foreign policies.

Lose-lose resource wars are possible in theory, but require recklessness and lack of information on the part of the perpetrators. Concerning the major military powers, I therefore count them unlikely, because information (and even diplomacy) are much better than they used to be.

Unequal treaties are going to be a growth industry, on the other hand.

The United States is currently fighting two resource wars - one in Afghanistan and the other in Iraq.  The entire mainstream political establishment is irrevocably committed to this course, as is made abundantly clear by current rhetoric by all important politicians in the US, as well as by House and Senate votes concerning war-funding and the like.  

A significant part of the electorate is opposed to this course of action on principle, but the elites in government and the media have become masters over the past few generations at rendering this portion of the electorate politically impotent, and effectively excluded from the public square of meaningful debate.  And insofar as the danger exists that their howls into the wind on the fringes of American society might effect a meaningful shift of course by creating a revolutionary mass-movement, fascistic means of stamping that out have been in the course of development for some years now.

In short, the US is irrevocably committed to a course of trying to dominate the planet, both to exploit its energy resources itself, and to prevent its "strategic competitors" from doing so.  You are of course correct that every effort will be made by cooler heads among the ruling elite (e.g.: the current Baker Commission on Iraq) to minimize the risk of igniting a world conflagration as an unintended side-effect of pursuing this will to power, but there is no way that these attempts to contain the consequences of acting violently toward other nations will succeed indefinitely.  Sooner or later, the US will press things too far, and hundreds of millions will be killed - no matter how cautious the elites try to be.

Already now, the hostility between the US client-state of Israel and the surrounding Islamic world is in a state of white heat.  The American ruling elite shows no signs of any intentions of cooling this situation down; quite the opposite, they stand by silently as Avigdor Lieberman talks openly about expelling all the Palestinians and the like as a powerful mainstream political figure in Israel.  I point to this particular antagonism as the one most likely to ignite a conflagration that makes WWII look like child's play the soonest.  (All of this is related to the overall US drive for world hegemony, though the nature of the relationship is admittedly complicated.)

If you disagree with me, I invite you to present evidence indicating that we may hope for tensions in that region to relax soon.

Hi Phil,

"...hope for relax"...

Well, what I offer for now: There is the objective possibility that something different, even if only on the part of a few, is the expression of a potential for a different outcome...esp., given that when "we" speak along the lines of "In short, the US is irrevocably committed to a course of trying to dominate the planet...", we may overlook aspects and potentials of the "we" (as you described so well in the previous paragraph).
"We are a group of Israeli and Palestinian individuals who were actively involved in the cycle of violence in our area. The Israelis served as combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinians were involved in acts of violence in the name of Palestinian liberation."

And from the women, we have:

Matthew 5:39 (King James Version)

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also

is the bit of 'Judeo Christian values' that is not being practiced in the muddle east.

Ledeen is delusional at best.

There is no nation powerful enough to act with impunity.

Even if some apparent victory is achieved, the blowback will come back around in sufficient measure to destroy that nation.  This is already happening with the USA, and even to some degree with Israel.

I suggest that you read Chalmers Johnson as a counter to Ledeen.

Ledeen has no understanding of assymetrical warfare, nor any understanding of the changes a nation inflicts upon itself by taking the increasingly violent measures required to maintain hegemony.

The Muslim world, by the way, is far greater than the Middle East. Israel does not have the ability to wipe out Islam, nor does the USA.  Such violence creates martyrs and actually strengthens the religion and/or culture one is attempting to stamp out.

No one will win any wars anymore.  No one.

The ruling elites in the US have knowingly caused asymmetrical warfare in connection with Iraq and Afghanistan, but do not seem to care.  There is a very good reason for this:  The masses are affected, not the elites.  The elites can protect themselves and find ways to flourish from the resulting difficulties.
I reckoned we need new status symbols - showing off driving around in the most expensive gas guzzling beasts has to go.

How else will the alpha males inpress and therefore attract alpha females?

The drive behind the SUV was actually more about personal security, that status per se.

Chrysler built an SUV, and discovered the customers felt unsafe because of large rear windows.  By making the windows smaller they found they increased the customer sense of security.

It's why SUVs are particularly popular with 'soccer moms'.

Once a certain 'tipping point' percentage of SUVs is on the road, everyone wants one (because you feel unsafe in traffic surrounded by them, in a small car-- what if one of them runs over you?).

Great article.  PO and geopolitics are one of my favorite hobbies and they go hand in hand.  It is hard for me to understand why people cant see that the US government is fully aware of PO and needed to attack and occupy Iraq so they can build permanent military bases in the heart of the major oil fields and reserves.  911 was the event it needed for this to happen.  Very, very obvious.  I'm sure Iran is next ,  and possibly sooner rather than later and Iran knows this,  thats why they are stepping up their nuke program.   We are entering unchartered waters with the human population for the first in it's existance,  not having a growing energy supply.  Natural gas could be more of an immediate problem,  with oil not far behind.  I'm not sure what will happen first,  PO or economic collpase,  since our economy is predicated on growth while using fiat money.  
perhaps we are entering uncharted waters on a global scale, but it is possible that the collapse of the mayan culture was caused by smiler effects - over extended trade and natural resource depletion. we can all see the results of that - all the big cities were abandoned, and a good portion of 'technology' was lost, but culture itself survived.

Hi Major,


"It is hard for me to understand why people cant see..."

"...why people can't see..." this thought is expressed elsewhere as well, with a different object. If you really mean "why", my take on it is that people are caught up in their immediate lives, perhaps lack education ("Al Queda controls the oil, that's why we're having problems", said Man on Bus), or, perhaps lack curiosity, etc. So, it's not at all obvious to them.

Or, (perhaps those who've studied formal psychology know a term, but)... it often seems to me that people also "project" or assume benevolent motives on the part of in "We wouldn't go out of our way to commit this brutality; if something wrong is being done, there must be a good reason for the initial invasion (or whatever), and any brutality is a deplorable side-effect."

Just my two cents.

Although I'd also like to mention this really interesting article,
not that I'm posting it. Just to encourage everyone to read it in the original version.

Forget about Iran and Venezuela, I'm just as concerned about the implications for CANADA.

Currently billions of dollars are literally raining down on Canada - Alberta specifically - for oil sands development. This money is causing bad policy to be followed (assuming one believes in the environmental / climate change impacts of unhindered grown in this area).

Declining domestic production in the U.S. plus an increasingly hostile foreign supply market mean that Canada is going to be looked for / forced to deliver increased supply. Forever.

I do not see this immense pressure as being a healthy environment for Canadian policies to be developed under.

And eventually some policy makers in Canada will realize that and/or start to vocalize these concerns.

Interesting but speculative on the scare monger side. I don't think Iran is at any risk for two reasons:

  1. Iraq is proof that the US does not nearly have the military capacity to force a nation the size and population of Iran into compliance. They know that we know. And we know that they know that we know that we won't attack them.

  2. Cutting Iranian oil off the world market would be the economic equivalent of dropping a small nuke on your own foot to the US. I would expect to read about an assassinated president before the GOP will allow this act of political suicide.

If this stand-off has a solution, it is one that would include a diplomatic solution. If you are too close to someone to kill them with your handgrenade, you might still try to hug them to death. That is actually the better strategy and will work, once we get leadership which knows how to execute it properly.

But then... I don't mind people having a good scare for entertainment. Although I think that "SAW III" might do a better job than any speculation about the future that will never happen.

I have to agree with Dr. Klare about one thing, though: the US did economically destroy itself by going into Iraq. It will take decades to recover and by that time China will have eaten its lunch.

Infinite: At the risk of being redundant, what many commentators overlook is that "China eating the USA's lunch" is a very good deal for a lot of very important Americans (just like the Iraq adventure has been).
Oh... I wasn't posting that sentence out of nationalist feelings. I believe that the US will do vastly better in a world where it is not forced by its own ego to be a world leader in either the geopolitical or the economic arenas.

Please compare the life of the ordinary man during the best of times of the British Empire with the life of ordinary people today. Would you say it was better to live in the slums of Manchester Capitalism than to have a nice espresso and French pastry in a coffee shop in London the morning before going to work?

I don't think so.

I understand the frustrated comment about war mongerism and profit making. That is a problem, but only half as much of a problem than 30% of the US population not having health insurance of any kind. And these issues are not even related. The forces that made war and the ones that keep the US from re-inventing itself as a social state are not the same. They might be driven by the same philosphy of Puritanism, though. A religious war might actually be in order (and it is already under way), but it has to be waged and won inside the US.

The forces that made war and the ones that keep the US from re-inventing itself as a social state are not the same.

Just curious, what are your reasons for distinguishing them?

Good question. They would seem to be one and the same to me.
I have to re-state what I said.

I believe that the primary forces are indeed the same. They are called "greed" and "stupidity". But the local mechanisms and people through which they act are different. Chimp is responsible for the war, but he is not responsible (all by himself) for the deeply rooted social and economic problems of the US. There were a lot more architects for that one. I would think that one has to blame generations of Americans for making one dumb decision after the other and most of them are guided by an amorphous fear that they would have less for themselves if someone else had just a little bit more. The result is a bicyclist mentality: you kick down hard trying to get ahead.  

Sorry for the misunderstanding. I need to be clearer, next time.  

I believe that the primary forces are indeed the same. They are called "greed" and "stupidity".

Yeah, this is pretty much what I meant. Having said that, I don't think it is so hard to go one step further and personalize the blame to some extent. Personally I would not put significnat amount of it on GWB - besides being too easy I find him nothing else but a representative of the huge corporations from the military, oil, construction businesses etc., that have vested interest in keeping our way of life unchanged. Yes, what is happening now from a cosmopolitic point of view is a short-sighted stupidity. But from their point of view this is just another step of the game called "How to make the rich richer, and keep the poor under control".

"I have to agree with Dr. Klare about one thing, though: the US did economically destroy itself by going into Iraq. It will take decades to recover and by that time China will have eaten its lunch."

China, with their trillion dollar foreign reserves surplus, paid for Iraq.  They will also be the one left holding the short stick when the dollar collapses.

Hell, you have to admire how Dick and Georgie got foreign countries to pay for our stupidity.

You are overestimating Chinese holdings of US dollars by an order of magnitude. The Chinese are business people who diversify their investments. They are not interested in foreclosing on the US but neither are they going to pay your debt. If you don't allow them to buy US property soon, they will simply write you off. Which is probably what will trigger the collapse of the dollar in the first phase. In other words: the foreign investors in the US hold the trigger to its destruction already in their hands. The only question is... when will they push the button?

Your children and grandchildren will be paying for Chimp's economic crimes against America, by not having health insurance or any social services to fall back on.

It is refreshing to know how many people there are who still don't get it. My job, requiring a small amount of insight and some smarts, will not be in danger for a long, long time.


The chinese have a trillion in foreign exchange reserves, 70% of which is held in treasury notes from the US government.

That 700 billion in US debt will never be repaid at anywhere near the current value of the holdings.  We have issued hundreds of billions in dollars of debt instruments each year to fund our military, and the Chinese (and others) have bought the debt each year.  Since the debt will never be repaid, the world has paid for the US military machine.

If you are going to make smartass comments, at least make a quick check of the facts first.  I do agree that the world will be paying for the Chimp's crimes for a long long time.

That 700 billion in US debt will never be repaid at anywhere near the current value of the holdings.

This is guesswork, not analysis.

It seems highly likely that the US will pay back the face value of this debt. I do not think there is, or China thinks there is, a lot of default risk associated with US treasuries. There is more default risk in other forms of US dollar debt, which China also holds, but the return is higher.

If the loss doesn't come from default, it would have to come from currency depreciation. While it does seem fairly clear that over the mid- to long-term, the US dollar should weaken, this is still not guaranteed. Currencies are complicated and for a country such as China, gains and losses on currencies need to be balanced with management of a country's own exchange rate and finding better places to invest.

The Chinese aren't stupid and they aren't making any real solid moves to diversify out of the dollar beyond discussing it. They obviously don't entirely agree with you.

The Chinese have painted themselves into a corner, somewhat. Their phenomenal growth is highly dependent on the American consumer buying their manufactured goods on credit, supplied by the Chinese themselves - a.k.a. vendor financing on a truly astonishing scale. If they stop supplying the credit their own economy will suffer terribly from the ensuing loss of US consumer demand... It's not as if there are another 300 million people in the worlds willing to go into amazing debt solely to buy triple sets of cheap sneakers.

Of course the US consumer may stop borrowing and buying for other reasons, eg cannot service additional debt, higher energy expenses, higher taxes, etc. That seems to be the most probable outcome, in my opinion, leading to a sharp slowdown of the Chinese economy.

You think so? You need to post more here, dude. Some of us really like your analysis. Not because we agree with you, but because we think you are smart. How about dropping by more than once a month?
Thks vm for your kind remarks...I try to post whenever the subject matter fits my field of knowledge, otherwise I read and learn...

thks again

You should never let your field of knowledge limit you. (just don't ever admit what it is) :)
"Their phenomenal growth is highly dependent on the American consumer buying their manufactured goods on credit"

That is certainly true for the past, albeit the consumer credit is being owed to the American credit card companies, not the Chinese manufacturers. They have nice and even cash flow.

The misconception is that there is no internal Chinese market and that the only Chinese market is in the US. Neither is true. You should see how active they are in Eastern Europe. Not to mention the products they make internally. I had a funny experience at an electronics show last year where a Chinese display manufacturer was showing gorgeous LCD displays and really stylish cell phones. Everyone was asking where they could buy the brand. The answer was: "Only in China, we do not export these."

Chinese are building for the future. Every transaction they make is one step towards the next. The US was a good target and is being milked to exhaustion but that wasn't all the Chinese were doing these last years. The other activities are just not visibe from inside the US. This is a cultural phenomenon. If you have Chinese friends like me, you can see it first hand.

To rely on Chinese dependence on the US is a shortsighted strategy that will backfire as soon as it is exercized.

Since you seem to be dead set on it, I will let you figure it out by doing the actual experiment. We talk when you find yourself in the gutter, economically speaking.


Well said. The Chinese growth is driven by domestic demand and consumer spending is rising quicker than in the US:
The idea that China's growth is mainly export-led is not the only popular myth. Another, says Jonathan Anderson, an economist at UBS, is that China's consumer spending is feeble. Several recent reports highlight that according to official figures spending has fallen from 50% of nominal GDP in 1990 to 42% today. But this partly reflects an even stronger boom in capital spending. Real consumer spending has been growing at an average annual pace of 10% over the past decade--the fastest in the world and much faster than in America.
Article in The Economist
Chinese are building for the future.

China's Soviet style wholesale ecological destruction of farmland and industrial related catastrophes would suggest otherwise. Their future looks bleak in that respect. Bleaker than the US or Europe, who commit many of the same sins, but on a smaller scale.

Most people discount things like this because their either don't know about them (more or less as you described), or they don't understand what happens in countries with governments that don't have even nominal public accountability (often skewed by Americans and Europeans that assume the US government is totalitarian). The conservation movements in the US have done so much more good than cynics realize.

The limits forced by peaking energy availability also means that developing countries won't be able to continue their geometric growth, likely leaving the first world as the most developed nations for decades to come, as their infrastructure was built when energy and materials were cheaper. That presents it's own challenges, but maintenance of current infrastructure is cheaper than building new infrastructure.

You have to cut China some slack. They had a huge population growth problem in the past and they had to solve it. It is, in my eyes, a wonder that they did. I remember that only twenty some years ago one of the major fears was that China would not be able to feed itself. It is, just barely, but it has solved that problem to first order. One can not expect them to have solved it without extreme ecological damage, that would have been impossible. So now they have to clean up the mess. But that was also true for Europe and the US, just as you say. Now imagine Europe with two times and the US with four times the population. What would we have done? Conserve or try to feed people?

Am I happy about it? No. But I acknowledge that the decisions were made by real people living in a real world and they came out the end of a long tunnel they were forced into by history. You can not blame that on them. It wouldn't solve the problem, anyway.

China is undergoing an extremely rapid change right now. Its major cities are comming near or are exceeding 1st world standards while the back country moves slower. Because all of this is so rapid we can see both, the China that produces the top of the line products for our mass consumption and the China of the peasant farmer. China is not one developing country but a quilt of many more and sometimes less well developed regions. I think the Chinese understand that. Most of us Westerners can't seem to be able to get our minds around it, which is a mistake. If we want China to be ecologically sustainable for itself AND the rest of the world, we need to understand that it can not be treated as a homogenious entity.

Kyoto does nothing for China, yet it could do so much!
China does nothing for Kyoto, yet it could do more than almost all the other players combined.

Why? Because we have grouped it into the developing world group. The world pays for it with an impossible carbon budget and the Chinese pay for it by inhaling some of the worst air in the world.

Let's assume you go at the China problem with an open mind and ask yourself, what is more important? To keep playing a post-cold-war blame game or help China to take its place as one of the most important global players which also has some of the richest cultural heritage in the world? In the end, you can't stop China and why would you want to? So if you can't stop them, why not help them?

We have the technology to help them clean up, they have the cheap labor to put it to work. The rest is politics and money, both of which we have in abundance.

Geometric growth is impossible, as you say, but the world is not yet at an equilibrium, the point where it belongs. And if some of us would learn that "their advantage is not our disadvantage", we could get to work and have this planet cleaned up and made livable for everyone within two, three generations, tops.

"...maintenance of current infrastructure is cheaper than building new infrastructure."

That is only true if you don't do the math. Replacing inefficient old infrastructure with efficient new infrastructure usually pays for itself within a decade or two. Not to mention all the jobs it creates...

"It will take decades to recover and by that time China will have eaten its lunch."

How quickly we forget Peak Oil - last time I looked, we didn't have decades.

Or am I missing something?

"How quickly we forget Peak Oil - last time I looked, we didn't have decades."

No, You are right.  It's a normal Human lapse of coherent thought.

We ALL could die tomorrow.  We all know this, yet we talk and plan as if we will live forever.

Not exactly the same thing, but, the lapse from a Finite Lifespan to Infinite planning horizon is nearly the same thought train.

We peakers do it everyday.

"Gee, I can't wait to teach my grandaughter to drive.... Oh that's right she won't be using a car"

And other little things like that.

It's hard to keep the finite horizon of Peak Oil in front of us all the time.  We constantly lapse into Infinite Time Horizon.

Something like that.

But there are so many tempting doom fantasies out there, why should you have to pick just one?
Pick the one that could really bring down civilisation.

An above 5 degree centigrade rise in the average world temperature: as much again from now, as has happened already since the last Ice Age.

The IPCC gives a 20% chance of that outcome by 2100.

Or take it further, the planet flips over into a positive CO2 reinforcing cycle, from a negative one.  At which point, CO2 concentrations are on the way to 1000ppm.

This level was last achieved at the time of the Permian Extinction, when over 90% of animal species were extincted.

that is really enough to worry about.  Other than giant asteroid impact, just about everything else has a cap on its damage to human civilisation.

Dave - a point MK did not touch upon was developments, or lack of them, in the developing world.  What I think is going to happen in phase two of the long crisis is that three strong energy consumption blocks will emerge:

2 China
3 Oil export lands

These three I beleive will divy up the the energy between them leaving everyone else impoverished.  This I think may lead to greater conflict between developing countries - who may compete with each other for resources, and some developing countries may feel inclined to export more violence to the 3 privilidged groups.

India and Indonesia I believe may be particularly vulnerable - Asian Tiger economies, increasingly reliant upon imported energy.

I also see decelining energy availability / escalating energy prices for the developing world coinciding with growing shortages of food - as "you guys" drive to the Mall on what might have been some one's dinner and as global warming leads to declining food production and drought in some areas - like Australia is experiencing right now.

I generally agree but where does Russia line up?

Russia is one of the oil export lands.  The export lands are going to grow extremely powerful IMO.
I generally agree but I would not call them "developing countries".
Very shortly we may see political and MSM leaders do away with some of the current euphemisms used to describe the poor and the poor countries of the world.

Perhaps the term "useless eaters" will gain acceptance - if not positive regard - amoung the classes of people who never need to have a concern about the cost of gasoline, food, shelter, a plane ticket, and so forth.

Ridding the world of "useless eaters" may even be seen as an important element of "the war on terror."  "Ridding the world of evil-doers may very well become cover for massive genocide.

This may sound a bit harsh but frankly I don't see how people cannot see that the USA has followed genocidal policies in Iraq since Reagan's policy of arming Saddam & Iran, pushing Iraq and Iran to kill each other off as much as possible, followed by Bush 41's aggression.

Even some of the key people involved in overseeing the sanctions enforced during the Clinton years were quite disgusted with the brutal effects of these sanctions on children in Iraq. The USA has shown its Imperial ambitions there for years.

Our policies toward the poor in our own country also reflects a new understanding of how things are in the "ownership society."  The poor of New Orleans were "doing very well" holed up in stadiums on cots and shuffled around like so much unwanted excess eaters, according to Barbara Bush.

Note that I do not believe Americans will see Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or much of the so-called "retirement investments" hold value in the next decade or so.  The brutality we see the US government sponsor toward the poor who can't do much about it now will only increase and broaden.

Too many people refuse to see that we simply cannot continue wuith the world's population exploding and per capita consumption increasing and key resources depleting and climate changing.

My guess is that there will only be military solutions in the minds of those who lead the USA and other nations.  Many of the NASCAR crowd in the USA will just demand a bit of the spoils, and will comply with the most brutal regime to get what they can.  We've been pretty well groomed for this role, have we not?

The problem is - beside the obvious choice we've made for violence and rape as our core cultural value -- that no one can win a war anymore.  It simply is not possible.

The Iraqui War isn't a civil War, it's a War of National Liberation from the Iraqui Resistance againt Ocupation troops. Some Shia and Kurd partys are being used as puppets by the Ocupation regime to "MAKE IT LOOK" like a civil War.

For your information there is substancial evidence of Shia groups inside the Iraqui Resistance movement, so there is no such will by the most of Iraqui People in dividing Iraq. Only the Kurds want it, and thats because they always wanted it, thats no secret. Kurds fight against turkey over that wish of spliting into a Kurd state.

But Sunnis and Shias don't want a divided Iraq. Perhaps as much as half the Shia support the Iraqi resistance. There is  no way they will acept the spliting of Iraq, much less the Sunnis.

You people talk of a bloody war in such cold unhuman way. Iraqis are fighting for they're pride, pride of being Iraqis, for patriotism, they have the right of self-rule, the right for independence. Thats the real issue of the War of Iraq.

They want to defeat the imperialist force that as cause them so much pain and is stealing they're oil.

Iraqis are no diferent from Viatnamese they want a free homeland and respect.

The only real terrorist is the US empire. A dying terrorist.

But Sunnis and Shias don't want a divided Iraq. Perhaps as much as half the Shia support the Iraqi resistance. There is  no way they will accept the splitting of Iraq, much less the Sunnis.

Shut the fuck up...really? Why are we there, then? Are you fucking high? When we leave, they will slaughter each other. Unless they have already completed the task by the time that happens.

Nobody wants a divided Iraq, douchebag! Especially not the Iraqis. But we all try our damndest to acheive that, don't we.

Not everyone sees it your way, Oil CEO.

Middle East Press Reports on the British "Undercover Soldiers" This is about the two British soldiers caught in Basra wearing native garb and driving a Toyota Cressida loaded with explosives. Soon after their arrest they were liberated with a totally gratuitous show of force by the British Army before an investigation could be mounted.

And this from Al-Jazeera: The occupation forces are the real perpetrators of bomb attacks in Iraq?. Admittedly, this is quoting the Iranians, who of course have an axe to grind in the matter, but it brings up the excellent point of whose interests are being served by continued instability? Of course, it serves the US interest; create a problem (chaos), propose a solution (indefinite military occupation, with a bonus of control of the oil - oil, remember? the focus of this web log?). For background on others whose interests are being served, go read this article that discusses the Likudnik view expressed by David Wurmser (you'll have to scroll down to the last few paragraphs).
You people talk of a bloody war in such cold unhuman way.

Oh, sorry.I was thinking about talking about it in a kind of warm, romantic, type way, like you commie-mutherfucker- Bolivians (chosen at random, somebody's gotta take credit for Pico). Long Live Hugo Chavez. Viva Sendero Luminoso.

After they hang your hero, Saddam, I hope they come after you. We won't hang you, though. We'll let you finish out your days writing poems about how torture is beauty and Beria was God.

I formally concede $53 a barrel in two months a wrong call. Agric, you win. You collect your due. As far as anything I said, I'll take a Mike Tyson defense. I await a rematch. OPEC's campaign of words worked. I misjudged their potential. Congratulations to those(50%) who picked the $53-$73 spread. Ultimate thanks and praise go to Halfin.

Halfin's studies of the psychology of the market here at TOD must be recognized as superb.

That's OK. I was hoping for $80. Didn't happen this year. So we got to wait until next.

No new comments added in some 6 or 7 hours after being reposted.

Instead of recycling old articles when the queue is empty, why not single out a worthy piece from some other source other than TOD.

Even if such an article could not legally be reprinted here (TOD just linked to it), it would probably generate some good discussion.

Just an idea.

I did not put up this Klare interview, PG must have done that. He must have done so because he thought it was important and timely.

I had written about Iran & Iraq again recently. What is interesting is that few (who comment) seem to find the subject important and timely.

As to your suggestion, that things need to be fresh all the time, I can only say that it must be some TV generation of Americans/others who need constant stimulation, have an attention span of about 5 seconds, and who can not possibly remember or value the past — even the very recent past.

But, this is a civilization in decline, isn't it?

Be patient, Dave. Oil will top $70 again at some point, your audience will expand and your mood will improve. I promise it. :-)

That is really good, Dave. That might be your best piece to date (how many times has that been said before). Your attitude from the get go is key. Here's a request for your next piece: "Mexico, Cantarell and their REAL impact on Global Warming." What I think people like about you is your ability to convey yourself through your writing. You clearly have questions about the real answers. This is what makes you a superior inquisator. You are a true master of your subject. Others may quibble, but basically you have your facts down.

Now I'll go back and read the next sentence.

Re: Now I'll go back and read the next sentence

Even I have got to laugh...   — you'll let us know, of course, what your particular wisdom is on the many subjects covered in this interview ARE ... you know, just so we all know and ... we also know that you're not just a critic taking pot shots from the gallery seats, that you've got something substantive to say ... which I'm sure you do! — I don't doubt you for a minute!

A Cornered Animal

January 27, 2007
Bush Is About to Attack Iran Why Can't Americans See it?
by Paul Craig Roberts

It may take a provocation to eliminate this obstacle (an attack on Israel or the US targets including military bases). The scale of the provocation may be comparable to the 9-11 attack in NY.

In July 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski of the United States met Jordan's King Hussein in Amman to discuss detailed plans for Saddam Hussein to sponsor a coup in Iran against Khomeini. King Hussein was Saddam's closest confidant in the Arab world, and served as an intermediary during the planning. The Iraqi invasion of Iran would be launched under the pretext of a call for aid from Iranian loyalist officers plotting their own uprising on July 9, 1980 (codenamed Nojeh, after Shahrokhi/Nojeh air base in Hamedan). The Iranian officers were organized by Shapour Bakhtiar, who had fled to France when Khomeini seized power, but was operating from Baghdad and Sulimaniyah at the time of Brzezinski's meeting with Hussein. However, Khomeini learned of the Nojeh Coup plan from Soviet agents in France and Latin America. Shortly after Brzezinski's meeting with Hussein, the President of Iran, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr quietly rounded up 600 of the loyalist plotters within Iran, putting an effective end to the Nojeh Coup.[5] Saddam decided to invade without the Iranian officers' assistance, beginning the Iran-Iraq war on 22 September 1980.

Almost one year ago, one of the first posts I ever wrote and posted on TOD was about the concentration of American power and destiny, as I said then, "traveling down to the tiny end of the funnel, more and more power and wealth and destiny in an ever smaller area, funneled to one tiny place in the Persian Gulf, where the destiny of the Western technical nations may be decided soon."

It is still true, and the tiny place on the globe is getting more and more critical to us all each day.

I will close with some advice for the future: Watch Qatar, now the base for the greatest concentration of high tech military power in world history, within binocular distance of Iran, the command location for CentCom, the base of America's Iraq occupation and Persian Gulf military operations, the staunchest Arab nation ally the U.S. has, but with a sizable Shi'ite population, but a total population barely as large as metropolitan Atlanta. Oh, did I mention....the third largest reserves of natural gas in the world. Does this place sound potentially interesting?

"Qatar" may someday have the historical infamy of Bunker Hill,
Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor or Vietnam in the chronicle of American destiny.

For now, most Americans wouldn't know Qatar from Ferrari, and which one is a place and which one is a car.

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom.
Roger Conner