Fishy Tales

10 August 2005

Future History

A little follow-up to Bloody Oil.

I stumbled across a BBC magazine article that emphasises our utter dependence on oil, and how rising oil prices will affect everyone. This again got me thinking about how the security of every country (and therefore of the world) is indeed dependent upon its access to oil now and - crucially - for as long as possible into coming years. I'm near-certain that future history lessons will show many current foreign policy decisions, and especially wars, as being part of the Oil Wars that commenced with Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait, largely for its oil. [just in passing, check out How Saddam should have invaded Kuwait - very clever]

As pointed out by Wolf at the Door, coming wars will focus on (or rather be focussed by) the US - which has a particularly strong army allied with a particularly strong need for oil allied with particular supply problems.

...which in turn takes me back to a conversation I had last weekend wherein a friend pointed out the importance of the US having bases in the Middle East, saying that he would be very surprised if the US ever pulls out of Iraq. Well at least while there's still oil in the region.

I note that a new base is currently being set up to "assist the Iraqis in controlling their borders", housing 1.800 soldiers. And we should note that the US pulled out of Saudi Arabia back in 2003, so is fully committed to Iraq if it does want a base in the Middle East.

The proof is in what happens. But what are the bets that continuing "security problems" will justify the maintenance of a garrison of US troops in Iraq for many years to come, and that nobody will ever quite get on top of the insurgents?

It seems to me that those who want to establish Iraq as a Muslim state ("fundamentalists" for want of a better term) play right into the hands of the US here, as they will always be fighting against those Iraqis who want a more secular state, thereby creating a security situation which justifies the presence of US troops rather than leaves it exposed as an anomaly. If they had any sense at all - and possibly if they really wanted what they claim to want (i.e. freedom from occupation) - they would be playing a more subtle, longer-term game.

I don't usually subscribe to conspiracy theories, but suspicious, isn't it?

Of course, it might be that they're all just a bunch of unsubtle and impatient nutters who long for nothing more than a quick fix of martyrdom.

Addendum
16th August: An interesting article, 'Peak Oil' enters mainstream debate, shows Peak Oil is no longer a fringe subject. Given that National Geographic took the subject very seriously over a year ago, it's most definitely no longer lunatic fringe. On the contrary, its increasingly general relevance is striking.
I'm reminded of (anthropogenic) global warming/climate change, which 20-30 years ago was mostly dismissed as a rather dramatic hypothesis, but mutated to become a generally-accepted fact, indeed one that scientists had supposedly subscribed to all along. Kuhn was spot on - history gets rewritten and the scientific revolution becomes invisible. Plus ├ža change..

5th October: BBC - US faces up to energy cut-backs
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita appear to have achieved what green campaigners and the California energy crisis of 2001 could not, namely the belated conversion of the Bush administration to energy efficiency..
Hmmm, maybe some things can change.

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