Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Republican warmongers cause spike in oil prices, blame oil companies

Samuel R. Staley from the Reason Foundation has an editorial at the Hawaii Reporter about the irony of Republicans bemoaning high oil and gas prices and blaming the oil companies. An excerpt, recounting the reasons for the recent explosion of energy prices:

The third and most important factor, is what pundits are calling "geopolitical uncertainty."

We are at war in Iraq and still have troops in Afghanistan. Iran wants to rattle our bones by going nuclear and the world is wondering if we will militarily strike them to prevent it. Throw in an anti-Bush politician in charge of Venezuela (our fifth largest supplier of crude oil in February) and the political instability in Nigeria (our fourth largest supplier of crude oil in February) and at least one-fifth of the price of a barrel of oil on the world market is attributed to geopolitical uncertainty according to oil industry analysts.

I'd like to add something: with the exception of instability in Nigeria (of which I know little about), all of the major causes of the uptick in the price of oil have been egged on by the Russia government:

  • Russia both supplied Iraq with most of its arms for the last three decades, while at the same time feeding the US intelligence (almost certainly erroneous, and likely intentionally erroneous) about Saddam's affinity for anti-American terrorism. Later, likely hoping to prolong the war and increase the period of instability before the oil started flowing again in Iraq, the Russians fed Saddam intelligence on America's military and war plan.
  • Russia has been Iran's nuclear connection, despite the lack of obvious benefit to Russia. America's spat with Iran is the most recent development to raise the "geopolitical price premium" of oil.
  • Russian arms were behind Venezuela's latest embarrassment over arming anti-Colombian rebels and the subsequent threat of US invasion and spike in the price of oil.
  • Russia supports both the Armenians and the Azeris in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which has led to uncertainty regarding the West's access in the future to the Caspian Sea as an energy transshipment point.
  • During the late Clinton years, Russia trained Ayman al-Zawahiri, who months later officially merged his terrorist organization with bin Laden's al-Qaeda and committed the 1999 US embassy bombings in East Africa, which Lawrence Wright thinks was an attempt to "to lure the United States into Afghanistan." The US responded with cruise missile strikes, and the attacks halted plans for an American-funded gas pipeline in Afghanistan, and ushered in the decade-long period lasting up until today of steadily rising oil prices.

In all of these cases, it wasn't the original sin that made the most impact, but rather then American response to it (or the markets' response to the events in light of recent American posturing). In acts of provocation, the provocateur commits an act that is seen as so egregious that it demands a response, yet the purpose of the attack is not to kill or even to terrorize, but rather to draw the victim into another conflict. When Russian support of anti-American dictators is seen as a tactic for drawing the US into conflict with oil-producing countries, the correct American response is not warmongering, as Putin's American critics would have, but rather a retreat from American imperialism abroad. Just something to think about.

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