Neoreality: Peak Oil And Iraq
By Bill Henderson
05 December, 2005
A dispassionate observer from the outer space may watch with amazement how an incredibly complex and resourceful society of Homo economicus, armed with the most advanced technology and all of the knowledge amassed through their entire history, that is voluntarily, with determination, even enthusiastically painting itself into a corner and reduces its future options to what in the game of chess is termed zugzwang (compulsed move) -- by deferring the recognition of the Universe's challenge until the crisis that is currently clearly visible on the horizon becomes detectible through economic and monetary mechanisms, signals from which in this particular peculiar civilization apparently take precedence over the other six senses.
It is perfectly reasonable that American military casualties are the American public's prime concern in Iraq but quite clearly there is much more at stake.
If Saddam's Iraq really did threaten even one more 9/11 scale terrorist attack then present American casualties preventing such an attack - 2,100 dead, 16,000 wounded - would be considered a reasonable use of American soldiers.
But much more to the point, what level of American casualties should be spent to keep America from economic and social collapse? What is the real game going on in Iraq?
Prescient Canadian peak oil and politics commentator Jeff Berg explains the necessity of casualties in Iraq this way
"(I)t will take much more than the death of a few thousand soldiers and the addition of a few hundred billion to the U.S. government debt (200B adds 2.5% to America's debt load) to make them walk away from access to the hundreds of trillions of dollars, at current prices, worth of hydrocarbons that the region will extract over the next 50 years. (likely thousands of trillions at future prices)
Their financial if not moral calculus becomes even more understandable when you consider that even this amount is literally tiny when you compare it to the economic multiplier effect that having oil and gas allows to the industrialized world. The money multiplier is nothing to it. Consider. By some calculations every barrel of oil carries the equivalent of 23,200 man hours of work in the physics sense of the term. Oil and natural gas are like air, water or soil, in that they are easy to take for granted until you lack them.
Oil is the very lifeblood of the now globally franchised American Way. 60% of the world's reserves are located in the Middle East. And oil, cheap conventional oil (and natural gas if not coal), looks increasingly like a peaking then rapidly depleting resource. Even an oil price spike to $100 a barrel could be the end of civilization as we know it if enough bubbles burst. As James Kunstler has pointed out there is no O-I-L in WITHDRAWAL.
"There has, as yet, been no candid debate in the mainstream U.S. media, still less in Congress, on the controversial question of America's war aims. Why did the U.S. make war on Iraq? The official reasons - Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and its links with Al-Qaeda - have now been shown to be lies. What then were the real reasons?
"It would seem that men like Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Bush himself - advocates of using military power to shape the world to America's advantage - were persuaded that Iraq presented a tremendous prize. Its oil reserves were equal to those of Saudi Arabia; its reconstruction was estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars to American firms; while its strategic position made it an ideal place from which to project U.S. military power to the oil-rich Gulf and to a vast region beyond. Seizing Iraq and turning it into a client state was a tempting goal.
Commentators have been focusing on John Mueller's analysis of the ratio of body bags to domestic polls in previous American wars, but Iraq isn't Vietnam and the US can't withdraw from the mess the 'geopolitical fantasists' have made in the Middle East with their cynical aggression in Iraq. There's no retreat possible and watching a delusional Hillary Clinton and the Dems trying to find a winnable position on Iraq and winnable ways of saying get our boys home soon is pathetic.
We can't go back to decades old market control of oil with American forces ensuring a calm Persian Gulf. There's no going back. Cheney and Co stuck a stick in a hornets nest but the territory is far too important, far too crucial for America's future to leave. And so some are going to get stung and the dead in Iraq will, in all probability, be just the first casualties on the resource war path that no reasonable American would have chosen.
A Pandora's box has been opened. The future of the world is at stake here because this region, Iraq, is the defining challenge of our time ... We need to close this in a way that does not produce huge problems down the road, that ultimately produces isolationism at home and a world with far more security problems than at present.
United States Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad
Peak oil is the looming reality and the Bush Admin couldn't resist the temptation to seize Iraq and American soldiers aren't leaving. Zugzwang. And all of us aware of the bigger picture, of our serious situation - all of us blue-staters, North American 'friends' and former members of what was once The West, all of us globally that have no power but will be perhaps terminally effected - just watch and wonder if waking up is possible.