Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rebuttal: Peak Oil, War and Israel

This is a response to ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH, writing in Counterpunch, July 9, 2008:

Shell Games
Are They Really Oil Wars?


While I don't dispute most of your article, I find this passage unsupported and specious:

"...further reinforced by the dubious theory of Peak Oil, which maintains that, having peaked, world oil resources are now dwindling and that, therefore, war power and military strength are key to access or control of the shrinking energy resources."

Firstly, the "dubious" theory of Peak Oil is not tied to the specific date of the peak. It doesn't matter if the peak has passed us -- today -- or not. It simply states that oil is finite, limited, and continuing to extract it will indeed deplete it.

Your over-broad characterization approaches a straw man.

You also failed to address the actual numbers regarding oil supplies and oil field such as Ghawar that are in decline as we speak.

Are you disputing that Ghawar, the world's largest oil field, is in decline? Are you assuming it can be pumped forever?

That is incomplete and "dubious" reasoning, and should be corrected in further articles on the subject.

Further, your mischaracterization of the Peak Oil issue denies real world examples, as in nations whose oil reserves have peaked and maximum output has declined, such as the United States itself.

The US Department of Energy predicts an ever increasing demand for petroleum, even as you try and characterize some gains in efficiency as somehow leading to a decline in demand. Your "9 percent" increase is still an increase, and a gigantic one at that considering these economies of scale we are discussing.

World demand will no-doubt continue rising, and cannot be met infinitely. Your comment on the "dubious" nature of a simple straightforward theory defies logic.


I also find fault with your assertion that US interests do not stand to gain from the multi-trillion dollar oil fields in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere if they choose to "liberate" them.

The untouchable regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollahs of Iran make a clear case of motive, in that US interests would not profit without first overthrowing the regimes and installing pro-US regimes in their place. This makes it appear legitimate, which is something US imperialists prefer, even at the cost of (other people's) lives and treasure.

Recent developments in Iraq seem to refute your thesis. US oil companies are in place to explore and exploit Iraq's virgin territory.

Now, you posit an equation that because the pentagon spends X dollars defending oil, it is not profitable, but this is completely on its head reasoning.

Who's money?

Private firms are making the money. US taxpayers, and consumers, are spending the money. You don't see a motive?

Are they buying or selling?

A lot of these arguments against the oil profit motivation completely ignore this fundamental question: Are they buying or selling?

Obviously, the money is going to the seller. You are not going to cash in on that crude unless you are somehow the seller, producer, servicer. That is a great motivator.

This does not mean that the intention was ever "cheap" oil, nor a short term "expensive" oil. The plan was for a "New American Century", not for 8 years.

Getting a foothold in the production of oil was clearly a motivator, if not for "big oil" which remains to be seen (Dick Cheney's classified Energy Task Force Meetings were not mentioned in your article, although they clearly discussed Iraq, and studied maps of Iraq's oil fields), then at least for the US leadership. This US leadership appears to be bipartisan, and in lock step.

Israel is certainly a factor, and that section of the article is good. That does not in any way negate other factors.

Why does it have to be all one or the other?

It does not.

John Doraemi publishes Crimes of the State at: