Minnesotans For Sustainability©
Sustainable: A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.
Seeking Understanding About 9-11
Is the Empire About Oil?
Dale Allen Pfeiffer*
[Recently a schism has revealed itself within the community of activists seeking real answers about the events of 9-11 and since. Some critics, like Jared Israel of the Emperor's Clothes, have taken to personal and public attacks on those who are steadfastly attempting to raise public awareness that the planet is running out of oil and the consequences may be devastating. This scenario, based upon the so-called “Hubbert Peak” of oil production, constitutes significant part of a credible canvass upon which many other motives for “a war that will not end in our lifetimes” can be painted. FTW's Dale Allen Pfeiffer now responds to Mr. Israel and those who are drawing attention away from the obvious.
We note the irony in a
recent statement made by the new Afghan Ambassador to Washington, Ishaq Shahryar,
who was the subject of a July 7, 2002 L.A. Times story which said, “Already the
U.S. Geological Survey is mapping out Afghanistan's extensive natural resources
and so many businessmen are pouring into Kabul it is reminiscent of the
California Gold Rush, Shahryar said.” The irony lies in the fact that Shahryar,
who gave up his US citizenship to become Ambassador, was a pioneer of solar
energy research in the 1970s and 80s. - MCR, Aug. 6, 2002]
Aug. 8, 2002, 1630 hrs. (FTW) - I have refrained from entering into the oil vs. containment debate because I felt that an argument about motive would detract from the focus upon U.S. government culpability in the 9-11 attacks and the subsequent “War on Terrorism.” However, I cannot hold my tongue now that it has been implied war-for-oil proponents are all “a loyal opposition set up to control the alternative narrative and keep people distracted,” according to one critic. As a testimony to my own unremitting opposition to the government and the elite it serves, I refer the reader to a piece I wrote titled “My Country Tis of Thee.” This article is a scalding indictment demonstrating that the U.S. government has never been about the values of democracy and human rights, and the myth of the U.S. is very far from the truth. I am nobody's puppet.
scientist, I am always interested in looking at evidence that might disprove any
hypothesis upon which I might be working. In this case, I have looked at all the
arguments against the oil motive and have found that none of them, separately or
in total, are sufficient to disprove this hypothesis. Furthermore, the energy
depletion scenario is based upon exhaustive scientific studies, which have in
fact been reviled by the U.S. government, the elite, and leading economists.
This is a scenario that they do not want the public to know about.
These two motives have been posed as though they are in opposition. In fact, they are not. Neither I nor anyone else that I am aware of has made such a statement. When a power like the U.S. government takes action, there is always a confluence of motives behind such action. I am sure that one benefit of the Balkan and Afghan wars is the establishment of a military presence curtaining Russia.
However, this does not detract from the importance of oil. In fact, should we ever reach a time when the major powers are starved of energy, then such a military curtain would be strategically essential to prevent either Russia or China from making a grab for the Middle East.
Yet there are other strategic targets that are not fully explained by the containment alone hypothesis. Why the U.S. military presence in the Philippines? Why the strong interest in Indonesia and Timor? And why the renewed interest in Somalia and Yemen? Opponents can state that the Philippines and Indonesia/Timor are necessary to contain China. But it just so happens that the Philippines dominates the oil shipping lanes from the Middle East to the U.S., and Indonesia/Timor is suspected to contain reserves of oil and natural gas.
And then there is Somalia. What strategic goal towards containment do Somalia and Yemen hold? None, yet these countries do control both sides of the Gulf of Aden and the mouth of the Red Sea, an important shipping channel for oil.
If the containment theory is weak with regard to these areas then what of South America, what of Colombia and Venezuela? The Bush Administration is quite concerned with both of these countries. In Colombia, the Bush Administration has baldly stated that it considers the FARC (the rebel resistance) to be terrorists, and the U.S. should take an active role in guarding Colombian oil pipelines. Then there was April's attempted coup in Venezuela, and the hints from U.S. officials that President Hugo Chavez and his administration could be viewed as terrorist sympathizers.
Beyond this we have Iraq and Iran, two members of Bush's evil triumvirate. Between them, both countries hold a large portion of the remaining energy resources in the Middle East. And I am certain that the U.S. aims to take full control of these resources before the approaching decline of world oil production.
Then what of Russia and China ―if containment is a readily apparent goal, why are they not responding? Despite some ineffective saber rattling, both countries seem very eager to appease the U.S., particularly Russia. The U.S. has already made a conquest of Russia in the decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We have drained the country economically and have drained its labor force of the brightest and best-educated people.
Russia is now almost completely dependent on the U.S. During the Afghan war late last year, oil prices were held down because Russia opened up the pumps on its own reserves. Likewise last spring, when Iraq tried to interest the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in an oil embargo against the U.S., Russia once again opened up its oil production to full throttle. This would seem to suggest that Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have some sort of understanding.
As for China, it is sufficient to note that in the wake of 9-11, Bush quickly pressed through China's entrance into the World Trade Organization. China is supposed to be the next big pie for international corporations, yet there is a concern about China other than Communism or imperialistic greed. Along with India, China is expected to be the big growth market in demand for oil. Chinese energy demand is projected to grow so tremendously in the next decade that it could crowd the rest of the world out of the energy market. Now this is a serious threat to the U.S., both socially and economically. At present China is going along with the U.S., but the two are bound to lock horns eventually due to competing energy demand.
all of this sound as though containment is the premiere issue in U.S. foreign
Normally, I would not waste time and effort arguing about the motives behind the War on Terrorism ―what is most important is that we fight against this War on Terrorism. However, there is a lot more at stake here than simply greedy imperialism. The U.S. empire and modern civilization are all made possible by oil. Without it our technology would never have grown beyond coal-based industrialism. Furthermore, there are no alternative energy sources, which, considered separately or in total, can replace oil and natural gas.
As oil and natural gas production decline, so will the economy and our technological civilization. Without oil and natural gas modern agriculture will fail, and people will starve. Without oil and natural gas, industry will grind to a halt, transportation will be grounded, and people in northern climes will freeze in the winter.
Scientist Richard Duncan has created a model that has so far gone unrefuted. His model states that technological civilization cannot outlast its resource base, particularly its energy resource base. Once this resource base is exhausted, technological civilization will be forever beyond the grasp of life on a particular planet. Duncan makes his model readily available to anyone who wishes to test it in the hope that someone will be able to successfully refute the model. To date, no one has done so. (See “The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to Olduvai Gorge” < http://dieoff.com/page224.htm >) [Ed. note: Also see available on the MFS website Olduvai Theory and Olduvai Cliff Revisited.]
You see, there is a lot more at stake here than just a continuation of the Cold War or U.S. imperialistic greed. There is enough energy remaining in the world right now for us ―the people― to take control and ease ourselves into a democratic, egalitarian, stable-state society. Or there is enough energy for the elite to build a feudalistic, fascist, police state with themselves at the top.
is the choice facing us right now, and this is what is truly at stake.
Okay, opponents can put out powerful arguments favoring the containment theory and disparaging energy depletion, and I can put out powerful arguments favoring energy depletion and disparaging containment. Only time will tell definitively who is right. But we do not have to wait for time to tell us which side of the argument is correct. What we can do is choose right now which theory would be most beneficial to act upon. All we need to do is an exercise in risk management.
Without arguing about who is right, let's simply look at the results if we take the containment theory to be correct, and it turns out to be wrong. Then let us do the same with the energy depletion theory.
If we proceed on the assumption that the War on Terrorism is all about containment, then we will focus our efforts on peace activism. We will attempt to wake people up to the greedy imperialism that lies behind these military exercises, and we will attempt to bring to public light the truth of U.S. complicity in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Hopefully, we will succeed in these goals.
However, if it turns out that energy depletion is a serious problem, then we will at best be unprepared. Our economy will collapse, and our technology will fail. We will face massive starvation and upheaval, and sink into a morass from which humankind may never emerge. Or we will emerge from a dieoff of humanity as serfs and slaves to a few elite masters ―not a very pretty picture.
Now if we proceed on the assumption that the War on Terrorism is all about energy depletion, we will still focus our immediate efforts on peace activism. We will still attempt to wake people up to the evils of U.S. policy and the elite behind it, and hopefully we will succeed in these goals. Beyond this, we will begin focusing on the transition to a democratic, egalitarian, stable-state society.
If it turns out that energy depletion is not a serious problem and all of this was really about containment, no damage will have been done. At worst, we will have sacrificed some of our time and effort to become more independent of oil and natural gas. At best, we will have a society that is a little more democratic, a little more egalitarian, and a little more sufficient.
Now, which of these is the better choice?
Faced with everything I have presented above, I must ask why containment proponents are so strong in condemning the oil motive? It would almost seem that they are trying “to control the alternative narrative and keep people distracted.”
Dale Allen Pfeiffer is a geologist and published author.
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