A Discussion of Friedman's "Gas Pump Geopolitics"

If you haven't read it yet, type "Gas Pump Geopolitics" into Google.  You'll find a reprint of it out there somewhere.  

I will also once again direct you to our Politics of Oil "manifesto" as well.

I don't care much for Friedman but he did predict in 2002 that oil would go to $60/barrel if things went "bad" in Iraq.


Friedman may have been right about $60 but he forgot to consider the fact that we are already paying more than $11/gallon for gas if you include Milton Copulus' estimate of the cost of the military expenditures to protect oil supplies. This guy has testified before Congress and is the president of the National Defense Council and has had his numbers in his 2003 report checked by everyone who is anyone in the US Govt. Even if you amortize this unbounded cost over 10 years, we are still paying well over $5/gallon.

EV world has a fascinating interview if you can navigate their overengineered and unfriendly website.

It kind of turns the tables on those Americans who think the Europeans are suckers for their high petrol costs. Who are the real fools? And then when you sit back and think about that number ($11/gal) and how they manage to conceal the real costs of oil, then you can't help but drift onto thoughts about how this idea of "economy" and "free market" are a complicated farce to ensure the corporate powers continue their game. I didn't see mention in that article about other than military expenses, such as subsidies to big oil and highway building etc. So perhaps it's even higher. It's the same old thing: socialize the costs and privatize the profits.
How can you give much credit to someone who gets the right answer for the wrong reasons?

Besides which, in that article he doesn't say anything except it may go up or it may go down. He doesn't even seem to pick a side, so I wouldn't even call it a prediction... unless you mean his conjecture that if Iraq/SA can't supply oil then prices will go up. Well duh.

"We're going to have to bail out Detroit anyway, so let's at least get some public benefit," the energy expert Anne Korin said.

probably not a bad idea

Fiendman says nothing about peak oil or oil depletion. Why does the big media keep peak oil in the closet?
Hello IndyDoug,

Peakoil will Milgov & MSM forcibly shoved down everyone's throat until we are 24/7 choking on it when TPTB declare martial law and reinstall the Draft.  Until then, unless the general public quickly overcomes denial [not likely], we are headed to the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario and the 'Nuke their Ass--I want Gas' mindset.  Mark my words.

From AngryChimp's post at the Yahoo energy forum, AlasBabylon:

1.4mb PDF

Source (html):

 What does America prefer?

"Nuke their Ass--I want Gas"        HUMMER bumper-sticker

or "No Thanks--I like Empty Tanks"  bicycle bumper-sticker

From the movie,"3 Days of the Condor":
[Turner]: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

[Higgins]: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years-- food, plutonium, and maybe even sooner. What do you think the people are going to want us to do then?

[Turner]: Ask them.

[Higgins]: Now now. Then. Ask them when they're running out. Ask them when there's no heat and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. Want to know something? They won't want us to ask them. THEY'LL WANT US TO GET IT FOR THEM.

"We see the rising floodwaters, secretly working to make the others drown first".

I would hope we prefer Voluntary Population Control & Powerdown instead.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I have got to see that movie. All I know about it is, it was Kevin Mitnick's favorite movie when he was hacking, hence his hacker name, "Condor".
It was a good movie, but it is funny that the book was Six Days of the Condor.
This has more "impact"



Big Thanks for posting this, AC--I am glad you are more computer savvy than I am.  Seeing this film segment scares the Hell out of me because it was made so long ago, yet seems to exactly predict what lies ahead as we go postPeak!

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob, you want prescient and scary, watch the opening 5 minutes of "The Road Warrior"...the old second part installment of the Mel Gibson "Mad Max" trilogy. It starts with newsreel style clips of the fall of civilization/global war as oil supplies dry up. Great film too, if you enjoy action movies.
As i recall the very next scene has the protanganist, (notice I don't call him the "hero") a young mel gibson, fighting and killing for a rusty hubcap's worth of gasoline. very prophetic. The entire movie concerns a oil-tanker load of  . . . sand
In the 2,002 Pre-Iraq-Invasion article, TF is expostulating from the typically "dumb-and-dumber" egocentric perspective our media so carefully cultivates.

"Gosh, Golly, Gee Whiz -- will we see oil at six bucks a barrel or at 60 bucks a barrel if we invade?  Can we wreck OPEC and cause revolutions from Iran to Venezuela so that we can install obediant puppets in those places which happen to have our oil under their ground?"

Perhaps it does some good to look back to the days before "Shock and Awe" to see how the Neo-Con thinking was rationalizing every possibility strictly in terms of oil and how we could get it cheap and dirty.

"Peak Oil?  Global Climate change?  What has that to do with me and my bigger and better SUV, McMansion, and the promise that the age of 60 is 'the new 30' and so I have years to of nothing more than more and better orgasms between now and my 120th birthday....by then, 120 will be 'the new 30' and I'll live another 120 years with the same expectations, only softer skin and an even bigger and better SUV, flying to a senior vacation colony ("Bushville Grande" don't you know) on Mars on weekends..."

Ooops. Sorry to be so cynical.

What does TF say today?  That the stock market is on a permanent, eternal upward swing?  That real estate is an investor's bargain?  That gold is fun to have lying about the house in piles?  Or that he keeps a stash of gold coins in the change drawer of his new hybrid Lexus?

Ooops.  There I go again.

The subtext of all American politics and media narrative today is this:  how in the Hell can we kill and intimidate more people through brutal wars so that no one will stand between us and our next fix of petroleum.

That is it.  Bottom line.  "I want my oil, and I want it now, and I want it cheap!  Where's my dealer!  Where's my oil!"

Ooops.  There I go again.

A few glitches in the system have allowed the term "peak oil" to be uttered seriously lately.  Does that mean we are passed the stage where they laugh at or hate those who take peak oil seriously, or are we still getting to the "laughing at" and "fighting with" stage?

Are we anywhere near the stage of talking about nthe reality of resource depletion, of peaceful allocation of resources?

Are we to the point yet that people accept that global climate change is also an issue, and that we must take that into account as we deal with peak oil?

Imagine the USA this summer if gas gets to five bucks a gallon.  There are too many guns on the street.  There are still too many racial tensions and class divisions.  Even five bucks a gallon will turn us on our heads.

TF, what are you thinking about, now?  If we bomb the Hell out of Iran, maybe we will see revolutions from the UAE to Venezuela...again?

Maybe we will see six-dollar-a-barrel oil again, if we only bomb Iran?  How about $200.00 a barrel oil?

Roll the dice and see what happens...again?

--even so, pedaling for peace and ecojustice -- Gary (beggar)

Beggar I think we're going to see $4 this summer and that will be interesting enough.
Awesome post there beggar. Couldn't have said it better.
I remember TF writing in the last year or so about how he realized before the war that it was going to happen, that the train was pulling out of the station, and he jumped on the bandwagon (sorry for the mixed metaphor) so as to be in a position to promote his idea of the war transforming the Middle East, which closely paralleled the NeoCons' ideas.    He then went on to blame the whole debacle that resulted on the NeoCons' blotched implementation of the war.....buzzz, wrong answer, Tom, it wasn't a tactical mistake or even thousands of tactical mistakes but a huge strategic mistake from the get-go, the damaging results of which will play out for the next 15 years, if not longer.
Why is peak oil in the closet?  I think it is because it is the new four letter swear word.  Maybe peak oilers should refer to it as p--k oil like the other four letter naughty word f--k.  P--k oil might pique more interest.
"Pique Oil" would be better yet, related to it cousins "abiotic oil" and "greased palm oil."

As in "jeeezus, just shut up about peak oil; I'm'a gettin kinda sicka it, and cant take it anymore.

" Response: Ah I see, yes, I was talking about "pique oil" a condition you clearly suffer from, not "peak oil" a sympton, along with night sweats, of Kunstler-Rupert Syndrone.

Don't forget "snake oil".  There seem to be limitless supplies of that around.
Friedman is probably the best example of a smart person being utterly, completely zombified by American style free market dogma. This article is my favorite skewering of him.
Thanks for the link. It was hilarious!
had me laughing out loud :) thank you.

What role does this buffoon play in the slick and stylized minuet that the editorial and advertising departments engage in at the NYT? Is Friedman the orchestra, the slick dance floor? Is he the courtly white wig on each head?

Friedman just repeats the worn out phrases. The US is dependent of imported energy like so many other countries, only less than than Europe or Japan. Want to get rid of the dependency? Just let the economy shrink about 30%.

And Friedmans complaints about the consequences of the dependency? Outright misinformation. The US oil imports are mostly from the Americas and Africa - not a single "terrorist financing" country among them.

Friedmans idea that energy conservation/efficiency efforts will make a new growth industry is not so obvious. The Americans know really very little about energy conservation compared for example with the Japanese. But the real problem is that there is such thing as ECOER (Energy Conserved on Energy Invested). Huge "energy saving" investments will only increase energy consumption.

And it is not very correct to say that Venezuela is more authoritarian than the US or any threat to the the US. We could better say that the really dangerous are those petro-importing-authoritarian states like the US.

I would like Friedman to tell how the Iraqis will finance the "developing of their people" with low oil prices?

The idea of a heavy gasoline tax is sane in itself - only it is new and radical only in the US. But let's make it clear: higher gasoline prices won't make oil prices low. Most of the alternatives have very low EROEI and they will never be really competitive.

OK, Friedmans column is just a fine collection of the phrases used for years in this context. They tell everybody that nothing will be done to diminish oil imports.

I thought it might be well to bring up Rosa Brooks's recent article in the LA Times which has to do with another side of gas pump geopolitics. She notes that in September, Iran will take delivery of the the surface to air missiles (SAMs) it has purchased from Russia. Supposedly Iran will use these missiles to defend its nuclear installations.

Since Iran has intensified its rhetoric about destroying  Israel, and since installations defended with SAMs will be harder for Israel to attack, Brooks says that Israel will be in effect forced to attack sooner rather than later, unless the missile transfer is somehow canceled.  Not exactly a pleasant thought,  given what might happen after Israel's bombs fall.


A war with Iran is insignificant when compared with a 20 foot rise in sea level due to CO2 build up. Unless something drastic happens, we are going to burn all our fossil fuels and cause millions of deaths from climate change.

Anything that disrupts the oil supply and sends the price to $100 is a good thing. This will get people to transition away from fossil fuels and save millions of lives. It sounds cold, but sometimes you have to kill to save lives. Truman made a similar argument in the case of Hiroshima.

The only downside is if the war is short and we take over the oilfields and continue driving SUVs. I don't think our military is that good. We are bound to have at least 5 years of chaos and skyrocketing prices.

The third option is that the Repulicans are still friends with the Iranians. (Remember the hostage release on Jan 20, 1980, Iran Contra, Chalabi). In that case, this is a just show and we are all screwed.

I've wondered too. The Iranian president just seems like another prepositioned boogeyman to drag us into war much like Saddam Insane.
"Since Iran has intensified its rhetoric about destroying  Israel..."

What intensification?  Other than the one Ahamadinejad comment many months ago that was challenged by Khatami and others in the Majlis, what are you referring to?

Clearly the short term solution to the present oil crisis is establishing a just peace in the middle east.  Re-stating the hollow lies of bush, neo-cons, christian-zionists, and their media (including Mr. Firedman), is doing the opposite.


Not only that there is some evidence that the statements made by Ahamadinejad are actually purposeful mis-translations by biased parties.

See globalresearch.ca articles.

Apparently he has talked about removing the Israeli regime (ie. government) and not at all about wiping the country off the map (a fabricated warping of the translation). It seems he believes that a better government in place in Israel may make life better all around. Gee, I think people say that about another certain government we know. But that makes sense, soon if you speak out against any government then you too can be a "crazy" and needing "containment".

Incidentally I just noticed when you mistype "crazy" you get "carzy". How appropriate!

And regarding above post about US-Iranian ties. I would not at all be surprised that all this "crazy" talk is just more behind the scenes knivery to provide a back drop for local politics similar to the Reagan hostage release. For the dumb and dumber element out there I would think that just in time for elections the appearance of Bush forcing Iran to back down would be a mighty popular saviour type meme. Even just dropping the rhetoric would provide some relief.

Watch and see when those missiles are actually transferred. Interestingly, Russia just launched a spy satellite for Israel this past week.

For other Iranian stuff you might check out:


According to Iran, the latest military plan includes:

1- A missile strike directly targeting the US bases in the Persian Gulf and Iraq , as soon as nuclear installations are hit.

2- Suicide operations in a number of Arab and Muslim countries against US embassies and missions and US military bases and economic and oil installations related to US and British companies. The campaign might also target the economic and military installations of countries allied with the United States .

3- Launch attacks by the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi fighters loyal to Iran against US and British forces in Iraq , from border regions in central and southern Iraq .

4- Hezbollah to launch hundreds of rockets against military and economic targets in Israel .

According to the source, in case the US military attacks continue, more than 50 Shehab-3 missiles will be targeted against Israel and the al Quads Brigades will give the go-ahead for more than 50 terrorists cells in Canada, the US and Europe to attack civil and industrial targets in these countries.

And of course: 14 April of this year -


TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's president, who last October said Israel "must be wiped off the map," stoked tensions with the Jewish state Friday saying, "the Zionist regime is a dying tree, and soon its branches will be broken down."

Despite that, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech that Israel remains a threat to Islamic countries.

"The existence of the Zionist regime is tantamount to an imposition of an unending and unrestrained threat so that none of the nations and Islamic countries of the region and beyond can feel secure from its threat," Reuters News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in Friday's speech.

Reminds me of Dylan's song "Neighborhood bully"

I'd be careful about what you read on that site. It surely looks like well funded propaganda. Anyone in America supporting regime change in Iran now is primarily interested in getting control of their oil. That should go without saying given the results of regime change in Iraq and it's supposedly good intentions. I for one am glad to see at least one state taking a stand against the American corporate menace. My fears are not that Iran will destroy the world but the it's enemy will do so, just to ensure their own dominance. Heck, they've already been making their best efforts at that in more countries than I can even name.

Neighborhood bully? ha ha ha ha.
Save that for the clueless.


Good point. I can not speak to its funding, there is a large Iranian minority in the USA, with money, that is not happy with the Theocracy running Iran, but it certainly is a site that that is right of center. However, do note that most of the stuff on it are news release items, like from CNN.

In looking at Iran I rely on MEMRI.ORG, Link TV's Mosaic, this site, two Iranian news sites, and currently am just about through a book written in the 1930's based on the Brit who surveyed the first oil wells in Iran and GRASS, written in the 20's about the tribal pastoral society in southern Iran.

Never rely on one source, never assume one cause (monocause) is why a war breaks out or a govt. adopts a policy.

As to destroying the world, we may do with our world numbers and what it is doing to our planet, but with the end of the Cold War we will not destroy the planet in war. Just maybe make a few places hot spots for a few decades.

I really can't imagine why Iran would be publishing its military plans on the Internet.

Actually I am amazed sometimes what one can find on the internet. Just take a lot with a grain of salt. Get a hold of a current issue of MILITARY BALANCE out of the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and follow Iranian news articles, both internal and those published externally, and you can see what their plans suggest.

Plus they want to show what they are capable of to scare us. Iranians are famous for what in poker we call "the Bluff".

One example. What are mini-subs used for traditionally? Clandistine missions. The North Koreans have used them for decades to smuggle agents to South Korea. Iran builds a factory for them - though production may only be one or two a year. Logically they would use them for operations in the Persian Gulf for SEALS or one shot torpedoing/mining.

Wait, why exactly do we have to bail out "Detroit"? Is that going to be on the ballot in November? Is there even really an "American" auto industry to speak of? Propping up Ford and GM is just stupid. Let them fail for their mistakes and let Toyota and Honda prosper because of their foresight to continue their fuel efficient car lines and hybrid technology development even when oil was at $20/barrel. They are clearly better positioned than "Detroit" for developing the next generation of more fuel efficient vehicles. And sign me up for the Geo-Green Party or Sustainable Party or whatever party is willing to talk frankly about energy issues.
it's one of those things where you have to decide on what you can achieve ... can you stop congress from bailing out GM if it comes to that, or is shaping the bail-out the best we can hope for?

i'm afraid we'll end up bailing them out with a stupid plan as they get dragged kicking and screaming to small cars

I like Lester Brown's idea for bailing out Ford and GM. Their empty factories are perfectly designed to produce wind turbines, with gears and generators and sheet metal. Then let the US Postal Service and other government organizations buy only US-built hybrids.

This approach avoids high-anxiety topics like global warming and PO. The Republicans framed issues like tort reform, partial-birth abortion and tax reform into easy-to-digest ideas.

Forget about the MSM's ignorance of PO. If you want change focus on ideas like Brown's and our own Adam's light rail.

PO creates anxiety. Anxiety causes inaction.  Reframe the discussion and you'll be the Karl Rove of PO.

 Is there even really an "American" auto industry to speak of?

Indeed most "American" cars are made in Mexico with Mexican and Chinese parts whereas most "Japanese" cars are designed in America and are made with American and Canadian made parts.  

Friedman says
Toward that end, we need a tax on gasoline at the pump that will keep prices around $4 a gallon (still roughly $1 less than most Europeans pay)
Gasoline is about$6.70/US gallon in most of Europe.

Off topic, but his site True Blue Liberal makes me wonder again how it is that the political colour coding got changed in America. In most of the rest of the world "True Blue" is Consevative and "The worker's flag is brightest red"

the networks used to alternate their red/blue color codings for democrat/republican electoral wins each presidential election, right up to the 2000 election when the color assignments happened to be red = republican, blue = democrat. but the trauma of that election helped turn "red state" and "blue state" into memes that infested every brain, and now we're stuck with them.
Yep so now we're stuck with red-blooded American conservative types and blue-blooded American "democratic" types ....... while this may not be so evident on the northern coasts and in Austin, the parties are seen as: Repub = more populist and Dem = more elitist.

Both shit on the little guy, just in different ways.

This won't change until we have a viable 3rd party and may not even then.

Thanks for that enlightenment
I have seen Tom Friedman all of two times, both while being interviewed on the PBS Leher Report.

I must say that I have never seen such a self-absorbed, bloviating jerk in all my life. This guy is SO full of himself, and seems to have orgasms just listening to the sound of his own voice.

But what is really discouraging is how the MSM seems to annoint certain persons as their 'experts' for no good objective reason. I think that someone like Friedman works out well for these people because he says things that make them feel good about themselves, what they are doing, and what they stand for. He is also very 'TV-viewer friendly', and that is probably the most important criterion of all for his widespread media exposure. He is just another media hack, and we should not waste another piece of post space even talking about him.

In TV Land it is far better to be an interesting jerk than a bland genius.

This gets back to the points made earlier about exporting capacity of oil rich countries. If they keep encouraging consumption like this they will not have much left to export.

http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/business/index.ssf?/base/business-62/1146442161157680.xml&storyli st=mibusiness

Alright you fellow Oil Drummers. I agree that Tom Friedman has said a number of really egregious things, and that he does not go as far as many of us might like in this column. Nonetheless,  much of what he says here, is certainly in the right direction and is much closer to a reality based view than most of what we see in the MSM, let alone from US politicos. Can't we give him credit for that in this article? If we are to get anyone else to agree with us, maybe, just maybe, we should lighten up on the the twerpy meanness of spirit.
No. He gets no credit. The tooth fairy says smarter things.

And you only have to leave her a quarter.

What kind of sucker pays the tooth fairy?
"Flathead" Friedman is a clown who should be ridiculed and igored. He is worse than worthless because he has a loud megaphone. His shallow, muddleheaded thinking and analysis by anecdote sells to the rubes, but has no value in serious discourse. Ignore him.
"If we want to make wind, solar and biomass more competitive, gasoline has to cost more, not less."

That seems like a bit of a nonsequitir to me. We don't at the moment have a ready way to substitute Wind, Solar, or biomass for gasoline. Maybe if you wanted to tax NG, Coal, and Fuel Oil you might speed the build out of these power sources. Not that these aren't good things, but they don't fill in for Gas.

Also I don't know that Americans will get the jump on the rest of the world in Alt Energy he predicts. Absent political intervention, new factories for Solar Panels, Wind Generators, and associated controllers and wiring will probably go to Asia. By means of technology "sharing" whatever tech we have will be in the hands of our competitors. Good for the Earth and all, but not really for the U.S..

We don't at the moment have a ready way to substitute Wind, Solar, or biomass for gasoline.
Electric vehicles are relatively easy to build, it's just that we aren't doing it yet.  If gasoline was taxed to $5/gallon, it would pay off really well and companies like Commuter Cars would be in great shape.
Also I don't know that Americans will get the jump on the rest of the world in Alt Energy he predicts.
You're right that the USA has a lot of catching up to do, but it's the difference between starting from behind and standing still while you're behind.  The sooner we get started, the better off we'll be.
There's a great book that has an article on Friedman in it:  Why America's Top Pundits Are Wrong--Anthropologists Talk Back.  The basic point is that how can you possibly believe the words of someone who sees the world from the back of the limo and only talks to CEO's and govt. elites? (They also take on Huntington, Kaplan, and D'Souza).
Many say we will see $3.50/gal this summer.  If you factor in Iran, who knows how high it could go. Everyone knows America MUST get off the oil.  After September 11, 2001 I expected our President to call on Americans to GET OFF THE OIL.  I was expecting a speech like the one JFK gave that motivated us to reach for the moon. As you know, this never happened.  Eventually I realized that the only way this is going to happen is for us to do it ourselves.  To that end I created this idea and have been trying to make it a reality..

The EPA is offering a research grant opportunity that I believe is a perfect fit for this idea.  I have sent an e-mail to a hand picked list of university professors who have experience with government research projects.  I'm looking to form a research team to apply for the EPA grant, conduct a social-economic experiment and surveys to determine to what extent the American public will support it, project the economic potential of WPH, and identify logistical, social and political obstacles as well as opportunities.

All government grants are awarded based on merit of the proposed research.  I believe WPH has merit but your help is needed to verify it. You can help by posting your feedback.  Let the professors and the EPA know what you think about WPH.  Do you think this idea is worth pursuing? We need to know if Americans will support a plan like this.

Do you have any ideas to improve the plan?

Share any and all of your thoughts.

Tell your friends and family about this Blog post and ask them to post their thoughts on WPH


Thank you


A good book to read which will help you junk Friedman's theary of flattening etc is John Ralston Saul's - The Collapse of Globalism.


An excellent overview of the path that we were led down by the crporate and political elite...looking at everything through the economic prism.

I would have like it if Saul had discussed more about oil. If i remember right in the entire book he mentions that word only once.

Excellent reading and makes you question a number of your beliefs.