Wednesday, May 28, 2008

High energy prices beget war, or is it the other way around?

At Human Events, Venezuela dissident Gustavo Coronel has an article up about energy and security that, in my opinion, has a bit of a weird perspective. First of all, the author starts off by saying that "[s]omebody seems to have cut Adam Smith’s invisible hand, at least in what pertains to the market dynamics of the international oil industry." Well, of course – the vast majority of the world's fossil fuels are in the hands of state corporations, and you can't expect state corporations to act as profit-maximizers in the same way that private entities do.

Then he goes on to discuss the intersection between tight energy supply and deteriorating security conditions among oil-producing nations, and concludes that these worsening security conditions are a result of high oil prices. But that seems a little backwards to me, especially given the factors that he lists in the upward climb of energy prices. Among them are Iran's nuclear ambitions, Chávez's increasing pariah status, and Saudi Arabia's flagging support of the US. But these are the causes of high energy prices, not the results. It's sad to me that even ultra-conservative publications like Human Events don't see Russia's hand in all three trends. But I suppose it's part of the broader post-Cold War trend of conservatives easing up on their criticism of the Eurasian empire, with the notable exception of John McCain. (Though I often ask myself whether Russian anti-American posturing isn't a sort of provocation, and if the Russian hawks aren't playing right into the Kremlin's hands.)

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