Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BLACK GOLD....Spencer Ackerman reads Peter Baker's Washington Post story about the upcoming visit of Kazakhstan's president and notes that Baker is oddly reticent about mentioning Kazakhstan's vast oil wealth as a motivating factor for playing nice with them:

Similarly, early in the piece Baker notes that other moderate-to-serious tyrannies receiving Bush's thumbs-up are Azerbaijan and Equitorial Guinea, and he also points out Dick Cheney's recent Caspian Sea excursion. But he does this all without mentioning that what all these nations have in common is possession of or access to quite a lot of a certain black, viscous substance that greases the wheels of the global economy and international relations.

....Look: There's a certain ridiculous tap dance in politics and in the media about talking about oil, as if the simple recognition that oil influences foreign policy is somehow a gauche or extreme statement. That doesn't mean that everything reduces to a question of who has oil and who doesn't. But what good does it serve to strenuously pretend that oil has only a trivial impact on U.S. decision-making?

Spencer is right, and this is one of the reasons that Americans are so clueless about how the rest of the world views us. I can understand a reluctance to be associated with the fever swamps of oil-based conspiracy mongering, but the plain fact is that a great deal of American foreign policy is driven by concerns over the stability of our oil supply. The rest of the world is well aware of this, and our blithe pretense that we're not concerned with such grubby issues it's all about democracy! is one of the reasons so many non-Americans don't believe a word we say on other issues as well. They probably can't figure out if we're in genuine denial about our own motivations or just being mendacious about them, but does it matter?

On our end, of course, most Americans just end up being perplexed. Why do foreigners think we're after everyone's oil? How can they believe such a thing about us? The answer is easy: they believe it because there's a lot of truth to it. But you'd hardly know it if you read nothing but the American press.

Kevin Drum 4:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (74)

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Comments

It's one of the reasons why we look like total hypocrites to the rest of the world...we pretend to be ardently pro-democracy when it suits us, but are perfectly willing to deal with dictatorships when it is convenient.

Posted by: mfw13 on August 30, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

In my country, there is problem. And that problem is the Jews.

Posted by: Bret on August 30, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, for Christ's sake. Go away, Bret.

Posted by: mmy on August 30, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Now that the neocons like Max Boot are claiming that Iraq may be analogous to Phillipines, everything has become perfectly clear to me.

We are in for a fifty year occupation of Iraq till it is a viable democracy (never mind Marcos etc.).

In those five decades all the Iraqi oil will be gone. The poor saps will have a democracy alright though.

It will be stupid not to enage in oil-conspiracy mongering.

Posted by: gregor on August 30, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you suggest we are trying to steal all that sweet, sweet, crude?!? You are a traitor- loving commie hippy.

Why just last week, My hero Dubya spoke of all that freance and peeance he was spreading across the hinterlands.....

Posted by: JiminyBSartist on August 30, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I can understand a reluctance to be associated with the fever swamps of oil-based conspiracy mongering...

This statement might sound less like a he-said-she-said attempt at "balance," Kevin, if you provided examples of these fever swamps to distinguish them from the far more prevalent valid criticisms of the role of oil in US foreign policymaking. Otherwise, it's just another unnecessary swipe at the Right-manufactured boogeyman of the unreasonable left.

If you want to distinguish yourself from what you see as the fringe elements of the Demcocratic party, you will do so more effectively by being as specific as possible, rather than by flinging around vague charges of tinfoil hats.

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: I can understand a reluctance to be associated with the fever swamps of oil-based conspiracy mongering ...

What exactly are you talking about?

The "special relationship" between the US government and the Saudi royal family, for example, goes back to FDR's administration. And it was the (Jimmy) Carter Doctrine that declared Middle Eastern oil to be a "strategic resource" of the USA which the US would use any means necessary, including military force, to retain.

The US government has repeatedly installed and supported dicatorships friendly to US-based oil companies in oil-rich countries all over the world. That was the Bush administration's original plan for Iraq -- Chalabi as the "new improved Saddam" -- and although that plan failed, the current Iraqi government is still going to be bound by the US-imposed oil law which will enrich US oil companies and screw the Iraqi people. That's the current plan for Venezuela where the Bush administration is spending tens of millions of dollars to try to overthrow Chavez.

All of this is quite out in the open.

So exactly what the hell are you talking about with this "fever swamp of conspiracy mongering" jazz?

Sounds to me like the same old Kevin bending over backwards to be "moderate" even if that means ignoring the plain facts.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you think Bush declared a national emergency via Executive Order, to seize Iraqi oil interests, after the invasion of Iraq in 2003?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 30, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I can understand a reluctance to be associated with the fever swamps of oil-based conspiracy mongering, but the plain fact is that a great deal of American foreign policy is driven by concerns over the stability of our oil supply.

Great try Kevin. More loony conspiracy theories from you! You're probably one of those who also believe in the Michael Moore loony theory that America liberated Afghanistan because we wanted to take control of its oil. You know, not every evil in the world is caused by Bush and America. America has done a lot of good. Unfortunately you and the rest of the left are constantly trying to spread your bash America first propaganda rather than believe America is the force of good around the world against the forces of evil Islamofascism. That's why America hates liberals and why liberals constantly lose elections.

Posted by: Al on August 30, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

There is a way out of this mess. The problem is that it doesn't enrich the CEOs of the military-industrial-petroleum complex and their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Bush administration. That's why it isn't already being pursued.

Winning The Oil Endgame
By Amory B. Lovins, E. Kyle Datta, Odd-Even Bustnes, Jonathan G. Koomey and Nathan J. Glasgow

This independent, peer-reviewed synthesis for American business and military leaders charts a roadmap for getting the United States completely, attractively, and profitably off oil.

Our strategy integrates four technological ways to displace oil: using oil twice as efficiently, then substituting biofuels, saved natural gas, and, optionally, hydrogen.

Fully applying today's best efficiency technologies in a doubled-GDP 2025 economy would save half the projected U.S. oil use at half its forecast cost per barrel. Non-oil substitutes for the remaining consumption would also cost less than oil. These comparisons conservatively assign zero value to avoiding oil's many "externalized" costs, including the costs incurred by military insecurity, rivalry with developing countries, pollution, and depletion. The vehicle improvements and other savings required needn't be as fast as those achieved after the 1979 oil shock.

The route we suggest for the transition beyond oil will expand customer choice and wealth, and will be led by business for profit. We propose novel public policies to accelerate this transition that are market-oriented without taxes and innovation-driven without mandates.

A $180-billion investment over the next decade will yield $130-billion annual savings by 2025; revitalize the automotive, truck, aviation, and hydrocarbon industries; create a million jobs in both industrial and rural areas; rebalance trade; make the United States more secure, prosperous, equitable, and environmentally healthy; encourage other countries to get off oil too; and make the world more developed, fair, and peaceful.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I can easily believe because I am an American Indian.

Posted by: Mazurka on August 30, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

For anyone who doubts that oil is probably the number one factor influencing our foreign policy over the last 60 years or so should read "The Prize" by Daniel Yergin.

Posted by: John Sully on August 30, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I object!

Operation Iranian Liberation has nothing to do with "a certain black, viscous substance".

Posted by: Disputo on August 30, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I know that Kevin rarely comments on these threads, but I think he really does owe an explanation of exactly what he meant by "the fever swamps of oil-based conspiracy mongering". Specifics? Examples?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

You know, not every evil in the world is caused by Bush and America.

That's true. They've only been in office since 2000.

Posted by: craigie on August 30, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Why do foreigners think we're after everyone's oil? How can they believe such a thing about us?

But jeez, as of late our efforts in this matter pale in comparison to what the Chinese are up to. Next to the PRC we seem like pikers.

Posted by: Keith G on August 30, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and what shortstop said.

As far as I'm concerned, attempts to be "reasonable" or "moderate" are no longer operable - we are at war with the Right, all the time, on every level, and everything they say or do is always wrong and dangerous. And this will hold until they regain control of their senses.

Until then, fuck them and fuck the liebermen they hide behind.

Posted by: craigie on August 30, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G wrote: "But jeez, as of late our efforts in this matter pale in comparison to what the Chinese are up to. Next to the PRC we seem like pikers."

Yeah, well read this and weep.

Russia Spins Global Energy Spider's Web
By W. Joseph Stroupe
Asia Times
25 August 2006

Excerpt:

The vast bulk of the world's oil, gas and strategic minerals resources either is coming under or is already under the control of authoritarian, or less-than-democratic, or leftist, or otherwise radical regimes either with a decidedly anti-Western political stance and ideology or pointedly decreased sensitivities to strategic US interests.

It is difficult to name more than a handful of resource-rich states that are liberal democracies and that are still significantly aligned with the West. Only Canada and Mexico come immediately to mind, and even Canada is increasingly embracing China and the East in the sphere of strategic energy deals and agreements.

Even those resource-rich regimes that are considered to be the most moderate of the globe's producing states are far less closely aligned geopolitically with the US than they were previously.

Saudi Arabia, for example, continues its "Look East" policy of diversifying its markets away from the US. It has concluded a range of important deals in the energy sector with China and India and is steadily moving into closer geopolitical alignment with the rising East.

A number of other key Middle Eastern regimes are following suit. By and large Latin America is doing the same, as are Africa and Central Asia. Almost none of the world's oil and gas producers wants to be inordinately dependent on the US market any longer. Additionally, the steady rise of the powerful economies of Asia beckons oil and gas producers toward such lucrative markets that are politically cost-free, meaning they do not attach political demands and seek to interfere in the domestic affairs of the producing regimes, as does the US.

The complete article is well worth reading.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: Oh, and what shortstop said.

As far as I'm concerned, attempts to be "reasonable" or "moderate" are no longer operable - we are at war with the Right, all the time, on every level, and everything they say or do is always wrong and dangerous. And this will hold until they regain control of their senses.

Look, I think Kevin's attempts to keep walking the via media--as though such a thing still existed when there is zero cooperation from the right--are foolish, naive and shortsighted. But if he wants to keep insisting that a moderate path is possible in this climate, that's his right (yeah, pun intended).

I just don't think it's too much to ask that he back up his "balanced" Bushco-enabling hyperbole and well-worn RNC-approved language with some solid freaking evidence. What fever swamps? Be specific.

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

That can't be the real Al. I mean even the real Al can see just how full of logical fallacies this rant is; non sequitur, oversimplification, argument ad Hominem as well as attacks against a paranoid self-created straw man. Come on, doesnt anybody try anymore?

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on August 30, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

I don't quite understand why everyone jumps in with right vs. left invective. As I understand it, Kevin was referring to U.S. foreign policy at all times, under Democratic and Republican administrations. I wouldn't even presume that Kevin was advocating a change in our policy--oil actually is very important to our economy--merely pointing out that although Americans, right and left, don't like to admit it, our foreign policy is driven in good part by our own economic concerns, not by abstract considerations of justice. That's why we didn't want Germany and Japan to control the Eurasian continent, and it's why we didn't want Saddam to control the Arabian peninsula.

Posted by: sean on August 30, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think it maps out like this:

The Middle East is the Beverly Hillbillies.
Cheney is Mr. Drysdale
Condi is Miss Hathaway

That leaves Bush to play Jethro, which makes sense - clueless and born into oil money.

Posted by: craigie on August 30, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I found the TNR critique sloppy. Oil is first mentioned in Baker's third paragraph (not the tenth as Ackerman asserts), and is discussed a number of times throughout the rest of the piece. I agree that the role of oil in US foreign policy is inadequately understood by the citizenry, but the Baker piece seems like a good corrective, rather than an example of the problem.

Posted by: Stuart Staniford on August 30, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, you totally stole that Beverly Hillbillies thing from me.

P.S. The twins are Ellie and May.

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, you totally stole that Beverly Hillbillies thing from me.


No way, it's a coincidence - I posted that and then read your email. Honest!

Posted by: craigie on August 30, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kinda spooky though...

Posted by: craigie on August 30, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

sean,

What we are really caterwauling about is the astounding number of posts in which Kevin embraces right-wing language, concepts, scorn and eye-rolling to paint perfectly reasonable and defensible positions as fringe leftist lunacy. He rarely, if ever, provides details of who exactly these loons are supposed to be or what they've actually said; he simply dismisses them with a vague wave, effectively validating the smears and innuendo of the right-wing message machine in an attempt to make himself appear balanced and centrist.

This is simply the latest in this annoying body of posts.

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

I want to echo the earlier comments about Kevin's pathological need to frame things as being opposed to the crazy lefty whackos too.

The act is getting really stale Kevin. There are times when the far left really is out there. But you seem to want to be Mr. Reasonable Sensible contrarian person so badly that you invent reasons to distance yourself from the far left even if they are not there.

Another point. Josh Marshall has addressed this recently. There is a time and place to be a moderate. It's when both sides are acting in good faith, and there is a genuine place for somebody in the middle to hammer out a compromise that is progressive, and acceptable to both sides.

In the climate of the Bush administration, acting this way is obscene. It is offensive. Perhaps we should only torture on Tuesdays. Unlike those whacky leftists who say never.

Perhaps we should do a 3/4 ass job with Katrina instead of a half assed one. It is fucking ridiculous Kevin. You are being fucking ridiculous. If you have genuine bitches with the left, bring them up. It's your microphone. However, I feel more and more people will call you on your misplaced, obnoxious need to put yourself up above the fray just for the sake of continuing to stroke your self identity as being better than the hordes. You aren't. Your shit stinks like the rest of us Kevin. (end of rant)

Posted by: trifecta on August 30, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote: What we are really caterwauling about is the astounding number of posts in which Kevin embraces right-wing language, concepts, scorn and eye-rolling to paint perfectly reasonable and defensible positions as fringe leftist lunacy. He rarely, if ever, provides details of who exactly these loons are supposed to be or what they've actually said; he simply dismisses them with a vague wave, effectively validating the smears and innuendo of the right-wing message machine in an attempt to make himself appear balanced and centrist.

Kevin's got Joementum.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Some voters for Bush in 2004 are in genuine denial. The little blue haired ladies just cannot imagine that their second grade patriotism is misguided. George Washington cannot tell a lie!

Some voters for Bush in 2004 are just liars who know full well the war in Iraq is all about the oil but like to say it is about spreading democracy as a cover for their craving for this limited resource. These are the business executives and owners, who want to maximize profits regardless of the expense of other people's lives.

Posted by: Hostile on August 30, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Kevin's talking about the fact that the Iraq war didn't give us more access to oil so the whole "no blood for oil" crap doesn't make sense. We're not making money off the oil, we're not getting more of it, and it's not cheaper. Oil service companies are making money rebuilding pipelines and contracting with the military though. The whole sector is making money from the resulting supply instability. But it's an awful elaborate way to get there. A simpler explanation is that Bush was settling an old family score with Saddam for making pappy look like a wimp and keeping pappy from being reelected (among other things)

"No blood for oil" should be the rallying cry against our passive diplomacy with Sudan or Uzbekistan. It's just not our blood.

Posted by: B on August 30, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

trifecta wrote: "If you have genuine bitches with the left, bring them up."

And be specific. If you want to characterize some other writer's specific assertions as being in "the fever swamps of oil conspiracy mongering" that's one thing -- others can read what that writer has said, and can agree or disagree with your characterization of it.

But to vaguely hand-wave at unspecified "conspiracy mongering" without giving even a single example of what you are referring to, indeed without giving any evidence that such "conspiracy mongering" even exists, is bogus.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: Kinda spooky though...

What's spooky about it? You know you're always begging me to pretend to take dictation while calling you "Chief" in a really deep voice.

That was a joke, not an actual flirtation, so hold your damn fire, peeps.

trifecta: There is a time and place to be a moderate. It's when both sides are acting in good faith, and there is a genuine place for somebody in the middle to hammer out a compromise that is progressive, and acceptable to both sides.

Exactly right. Still waiting for Lieberman to tell us on which issues his open-hearted "bipartisanship" has convinced the right to adjust its position one iota.

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

B: Maybe Kevin's talking about the fact that the Iraq war didn't give us more access to oil so the whole "no blood for oil" crap doesn't make sense.

That's confusing intention with competence, isn't it?

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

That's confusing intention with competence, isn't it?

Yeah, I guess it is. I hear they sent in USGS petroleum geologists within months of the invasion. They probably had a blueprint for getting Iraq to exceed Saudi production levels. It would take a good shrink (or a subpeona of Cheney's energy meeting notes) to figure them out.

Posted by: B on August 30, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

This whole chapter finally explains to me the one angle in Syriana I couldn't figure out -- how a check to a Swiss boarding school by Danny Dalton of Killeen Oil won the Kazakhstan contract.

It was James Giffen, President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his daughter. This side story in the movie was based entirely on real events, but was either poorly explained or I allowed one measly attention lapse. D'ooooh!

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on August 30, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

B wrote: ... the Iraq war didn't give us more access to oil so the whole "no blood for oil" crap doesn't make sense.

First of all, that's because the Iraq war did not go as the Bush administration planned. They thought that after overthrowing Saddam Hussein, they would quickly and easily install Chalabi as the new US-backed dictator of Iraq (the "new improved Saddam") and his govenment would open up Iraq's oil reserves to the control of US-based oil companies. Of course they failed to accomplish that, and they had no other plan. That's why Iraq became the disaster that is it.

Second of all, the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer forced upon Iraq an oil law based on "production sharing agreements" which will basically hand over the bulk of Iraq's oil wealth to foreign corporations. Read this article for more information on this. The Bush administration still hopes to achieve its goal in Iraq, which is and has always been control of Iraq's oil and the transfer of the wealth generated by it into the hands of American oil company CEOs.

B wrote: "No blood for oil" should be the rallying cry against our passive diplomacy with Sudan or Uzbekistan. It's just not our blood.

You are 100% right about that.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

On our end, of course, most Americans just end up being perplexed.

So why not come out in favor of a massive private/government campaign to increase US made fuel and increase fuel efficiency? I don't mean the occassional potshot at CAFE or SUVs, but an actual workable "wholistic" plan.

For example, instead of subsidizing sugar cane and sugar beets, subsidize fuel made from them.

Close a few military bases and construct synfuels factories on them, especially in IL, WVA, KY and PA.

Postpone new aircraft carriers and invest the same amount of money in energy production.

Instead of whining about the problem, announce a plan to solve it, and keep up the drumbeat until the problem is solved.

If the US invested this kind of money in fuel sufficiency, we wouldn't need to spend money trying to acquire Kazakh oil.

How about a slogan: Billions for fuel, but not one cent for tribute!

The federal government will spend $25T in the upcoming 10 years. It could readily reduce a bunch of programs and transfer the money into fuel sufficiency for 10 years time.

Build something in every state and almost every congressional district, as with the Interstate Hiwghway System. Everybody will benefit, so every interest group will be charged something.

On this point, I'll remind you that HR Clinton has recently come out in favor of constructing more biofuels plants, and production of energy was in the president's 2005 energy bill and his 2006 SOTU address.

Say you don't like the idea of federal funding for the manufacture of solar PV panels: OK, how is that worse than funding the Space Shuttle and International Space Station? At least the PV panels will produce something once built.

and so on.

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat wrote: So why not come out in favor of a massive private/government campaign to increase US made fuel and increase fuel efficiency? I don't mean the occassional potshot at CAFE or SUVs, but an actual workable "wholistic" plan.

See my post at 5:16PM above linking to Winning The Oil Endgame. It's just what you are looking for.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

B: It would take a good shrink (or a subpeona of Cheney's energy meeting notes) to figure them out.

If I believed in heaven, and furthermore believed I might get there, I'd picture it as a place in which that commission's membership and full discussion are revealed in a blaze of white light. Then we'd get to see videos of every second of Fitz's grand juries' meetings. Then full-fat--but, remarkably, calorie-free!--coffee ice cream would be served as we discuss amongst ourselves.

Posted by: shortstop on August 30, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

everybody should read:

SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 5:16 PM

What I propose is larger than the $180B that they propose, but their plan should certainly be supported.

Don't badmouth all the oil companies, however. They are now big investors in biofuels, solar power, and wind power. Their oil profits depend in part on enormous federal subsidies in the form of military power; if it is clear that such power will less readily be deployed in the future, they'lll invest more heavily here at home. I imagine they'd already do better with American wind farms than Nigerian oil fields.

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

another must read:

SecularAnimist on August 30, 2006 at 5:45 PM

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

secular animist: See my post at 5:16PM above linking to Winning The Oil Endgame. It's just what you are looking for.

I did indeed read it, or something very like it, months ago. As well as recent reviews of the state of other energy production technologies.

I have referred several times in the past few days to your posts that have the link. That is an important paper.

What I mean is this: Kevin Drum, you put together a plan and start hammering at it. You are always whining about problems of energy, at minimum review what is available now in the way of solutions.

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, But Jethro had a better grip on english.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on August 30, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that we see people from other times and places as superstitious. Yet we too worry about tempting fate. That's why we don't see much use of the O-word in the popular press. Rather we let it be gigerly handled by the experts - geophysicists, organic chemists or financial analysts - the modern priesthood that knows enough to stick to the liturgy. All Average Joe is expected to talk about is those darned high gas prices and maybe somebody otta do sumpfin 'bout it.

But life without petroleum is just as scary a thought as a bear or a sabre-tooth cat coming out of the forest at night. So we don't say it, it's a magic word. Some words are safe and abstract, like "democracy" and "whatever". Some phrases are just space fillers, like "moving forward" or "at this point in time". But some words are like the name of god, unspeakable.

I'm still on the fence about "current account deficit".

Posted by: kostya on August 30, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hurricane John Upgraded to Category 4 Storm

I have something....

Posted by: frwe on August 30, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush the Elder at least tried to tell the truth about this.

Remember when he was test marketing justifications for the first Gulf War? He tried "It's about the jobs!" and "It's about the economy!" before he finally got around to "The moral equivalent of Hitler!"

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on August 30, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Jethro was pretty good at cypherin', too. You know, all that "Naught from naught equals naught" jazz.

And the "gazintas." Two gazinta four twice, and so on.

Posted by: Reprobate on August 30, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"what all these nations have in common is possession of or access to quite a lot of a certain black, viscous substance...."

Hmmm . . . perhaps the problem with the Bush administration is a certain green, viscous substance first described in the literature by a famous doctor in 1949.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on August 30, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

For anyone who doubts that oil is probably the number one factor influencing our foreign policy over the last 60 years or so should read "The Prize" by Daniel Yergin.

100% agree.

Posted by: Edo on August 30, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hate to seem like a drooling fanboi here, but Conservative Deflator KICKS ASS!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 30, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

I imagine they'd already do better with American wind farms than Nigerian oil fields.
Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Does that mean we'll soon see madrassas churning out suicide bombers in Palm Springs?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 30, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

craigie wrote "Condi is Miss Hathaway" . . . but craigie, one feels sorry for Miss Hathaway's lack of success in finding love in her life.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on August 30, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I guess it is. I hear they sent in USGS petroleum geologists within months of the invasion.
Posted by: B on August 30, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

That was a ruse, to lull the speculators into a false sense of security, and to panic OPEC into cutting production for the coming price cut.

Then when "oh my gosh! it's not working! there's bloodshed and chaos, and exploding pipelines!" - the speculators went ape-shit and Exxon's CEO made buttloads.

No - Ken Lay (CEO of major energy trading company) being in that meeting was no conflict of intreest at all. Uh uh. . .

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 30, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Will Work For Food-Will Die For Oil

Posted by: R.L. on August 30, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Does that mean we'll soon see madrassas churning out suicide bombers in Palm Springs?

That would not surprise me. But John Walker Lind was from Marin County.

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

What I mean is this: Kevin Drum, you put together a plan and start hammering at it. You are always whining about problems of energy, at minimum review what is available now in the way of solutions.
Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Step one: Fire the assholes who got us into this mess. Preferably from a cannon.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 30, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

I read somewhere upthread that H. Clinton is proposing a synfuel program. This is great news from the perspective of 'peak oil' but not very good news from the perspective of global warming.
I've read (correct me if I'm wrong) that the production and use of synfuels only reduces GW gas output by 25%. That just ain't gonna do it.

Posted by: nepeta on August 30, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

If you bothered to read the Washington Post article that is referenced by Spencer Akkerman, the name James Giffen is mentioned. There is an interesting connection to the Sept. 11th terror attacks in this story. Giffen is an American who has been trying (including bribing govt. officials) to get oil out of this Caspian Sea dictatorship for years. His case was being investigated as far back as 2000 and much of the evidence was in federal offices in Tower One of the WTC when it was destroyed. Im not suggesting that was anything more than coincidence, but the Online Journal article I link to above has some interesting backround about Kazakhstans oil and how the Bushies are desperately finding a way to get that oil out of Kazakhstan that doesnt involve piping it through Russia, Iraq or Iran. They are even exploring running a pipeline under the Caspian Sea. An interesting read and further proof of how our addiction to petroleum has driven some people, named Bush and Cheney anyway, stark raving mad!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 30, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Here is another must read on the oil bidness

The Control of Oil

""The Control of Oil," By Dr. John M. Blair is a brilliant look at how the price of crude oil was determined by giant petroleum companies (the seven sisters) and a dozen members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Blair traces the history of these controls and explains how they recklessly triggered the 1970's global energy crisis.

This 1976 publication is a classic. To this end, Blair spent thirty-two years in the federal government. He started in 1938 as an author of monographs for pre-World War II investigations. Early on, he made his name focusing on the sizable concentrations of economic power in the oil industry by the Rockefeller family and family foundation. Afterwards he spent nearly a decade with the Federal Trade Commission as an Assistant Chief Economist and finally Blair spent fourteen years as Chief Economist of the Senate Subcommittee on Anti-trust and Monopoly. What makes this book truly special is the author's enormous access to critical government information..."

Yergin is far too polite IMO

Oh, and for those of you that want to get into the nitty gritty of the oil debate, go to The Oil Drum for a minimum of hysteria & maximum of informed opinion & lots of excellent facts (a real education awaits you !)

And, BTW, short stop & SecularAnimist have my support on this; get some backbone Kevin & quit ranting about "fever swamps" that only exist in the minds of Rethuglicans & their fellow travelers (maybe they have caught the fevers...)

"Considering the many productive uses of petroleum, burning it for fuel is like burning a Picasso for heat." - some Oil Executive

Posted by: daCascadian on August 30, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

I read somewhere upthread that H. Clinton is proposing a synfuel program. This is great news from the perspective of 'peak oil' but not very good news from the perspective of global warming.

when I wrote to my Congressfolks, I proposed increased energy production, increased fuel efficiency, and CO2 sequestration. I think that if you wrote all three into a bill, and the bill proposed construction in all states, then it would pass.

Not incidentally, I pointed out that the military needs a secure supply of liquid fuel, and does not have it. We are as vulnerable now as Japan and Germany were in WWII. This may not matter to you, but it does matter to the Republicans in congress.The tankers that bring our fuel move on scheduled routes and they move really slowly. For $100B we would get more national defense from investing in domestic fuel supplies than from investing in weapons that consume fuel.

I read, but I lost the source, that $100B invested in synfuels would eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East. It doesn't matter what the exact trade-off is, as long as we take, and are seen to take, many steps in that direction.

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 联通铃声下载 on August 30, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

We just do most of the dirty work to guarantee the stability of oil supplies to the West, and they sit back and enjoy the benefit.

It must take a lot of energy to maintain this constant sense of abuse and neglect in the face of overwhelming domination of governments at home and abroad. What sort of paranoia pills do you people suck down, anyway?

republicrat: Their oil profits depend in part on enormous federal subsidies in the form of military power;

Wow, an honest conservative. I may have to lie down...

Posted by: craigie on August 30, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat: Their oil profits depend in part on enormous federal subsidies in the form of military power;
...
craigie:Wow, an honest conservative. I may have to lie down...

When you want to win arguments with people who believe in free markets, it helps to itemize the extant limits on the markets. If you can't persuade the free marketers (I am one myself) you can persuade the middle, which is where most Congresscritters are. There is no free market in oil, so the markets can not solve the problem without US govt intervention.

I have mentioned that I have recently written my congresscritters on this issue, and the pres. I expect to have as much influence with these letters as usual. My opening sentence is: There is no free market in oil.

Posted by: republicrat on August 30, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom Line since day 1 (January 20th, 2001):
Iraq = oil. End of story.

Posted by: worldserious on August 30, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Kevin was referring to those people who believe, for example, the Bush deliberately encouraged an al-Qaeda attack on the US in order to invade Afghanistan so a pipeline could be built under American control.

And there are plenty of them out there. Google "Afghanistan war pipeline" and watch the flood

Posted by: MikeN on August 31, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

it helps to itemize the extant limits on the markets.

I'm sure it does. Does anyone (apart, apparently, from you) recognize that such limits exist? It certainly seems not, since Mr Market is going to solve all our education, health, crime, and energy problems. In fact, any human problem at all, up to and including human relationships, seems only to lack the appropriate vouchers or market-based trading in cute single guy futures, or whatever, in order to solve it.

This is why I am a cynical smartass when people start ranting about how all we need is more capitalism and then it will rain chocolate, everyone will get a pony, and Bush will learn to speak English.

Posted by: craigie on August 31, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

No, no one else. He's the only one. Everyone else who favors a greater role for the market in public policy is actually the most extreme possible anarcho-libertarian who thinks the market alone can solve absolutely every human problem. You sure got our number.

Aha, just as I suspected.

Posted by: craigie on August 31, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

craigie: when people start ranting about how all we need is more capitalism

I don't know anybody who does that. Yes we definitely need more capitalism, but it isn't the only thing we need. Redirecting money from defense and federal entitlement programs to energy subsidies is, on the whole, more capitalism.

Posted by: republicrat on August 31, 2006 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

I can understand a reluctance to be associated with the fever swamps of oil-based conspiracy mongering

Good Ford, Kevin, would you mind not buying into dishonest GOP frames? The "ridiculous tap dance in politics" due to "the simple recognition that oil influences foreign policy is somehow a gauche or extreme statement" is because part of the GOP's propaganda has been to portray that simple recognition as a gauche or extreme statement.

Posted by: Gregory on August 31, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

I want to echo the earlier comments about Kevin's pathological need to frame things as being opposed to the crazy lefty whackos too.

Just when you think Kevin is finally coming around, he goes back to sensible liberal land.

Posted by: klyde on August 31, 2006 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

What we need is more domestic oil production. Not that hard to do, except that current environmental laws/lawsuits make it either cost ineffective or plain illegal to drill. Same for oil refining. as a direct result, we are forced to make people rich who don't like us & don't have our best interests at heart. Some are even terrorists.

Somehow that obvious fact is turned into "we need absolute capitalism and people starving in the streets". Hyperbole doesn't help the debate. My personal study of history shows that capitalism isn't perfect, but is a heck of a lot better than most alternatives. But socialists can't allow any positvie statement about capitalism to stand, so they go the full-bore child-labor, people-starving-in-the-streets, rich-getting-richer rants and try to shut down discussion. Not helpful.

Posted by: Martian on August 31, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, come on. Nobody knows Borat? He's from Khazakstan?? You bunch of squares.

Posted by: Bret on August 31, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Martian wrote: "What we need is more domestic oil production."

That's a pretty ignorant thing to say. The USA has something like five percent of world oil reserves and consumes something like twenty-five percent of world oil production. The oil that is believed to be exploitable in ANWR would be about six months of US consumption. "More domestic oil production" would be a drop in the ocean of US oil consumption, at best.

We need to stop burning fossil fuels and move to clean, renewable, distributed solar, wind and biofuel energy production.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 31, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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