Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gen. Petraeus's comments subtext: Israel vs. OIL

The story about General David Petraeus saying Israel's treatment of Palestinians endangers our troops is not remarkable for its insight, people from Noam Chomsky to neocon Fareed Zakaria have said this since 9/11 and even before, but what is remarkable is that someone in Petraeus position SAID it and it was publicly acknowledged.

I don't doubt Petraeus' concern for our troops, but generals work for elected civilians, which means the civilians may have realized the limits of seizing oil and pipeline routes with naked force.

Recall that when Bush invaded Iraq, Cheney's energy task force had been pouring over maps of Iraqi oil fields and foreign suitors who wanted contracts to drill their (and US companies weren't on the list), Condaleeza Rice's memo about merging the seemingly unrelated objectives of fighting terrorism and seizing oil fields, and the US written Hydrocarbon Law that Bush tried to force the Iraqis to pass that would have given 88% of their oil income to foreign oil companies (ours).

The Iraqi parliament refused to pass that bill in spite of offers of millions in bribes to each member because they knew if they voted for it, they were signing their death warrants. The one popular thing Saddam did was nationalize their oil, to keep most of the profits in the country, and the politicians who undid that would be literally torn to shreds by their own people, not to mention they would never win a fair election again.

The result is that the contracts Iraqis have given out pay out far less than the oil companies wanted as the people of Iraq naturally prefer, and many those contracts have gone to non-American companies despite our troops being a literal gun to Iraq's head. Our oil companies probably could have gotten the same deals from Saddam when the sanctions were lifted if we HADN'T invaded.

Likewise in Afghanistan, though we installed a pliant puppet government with a former Unocal consultant as president to oversee the pipeline route and his heroin dealer brother to shepherd that income to Wall Street, our military presence there has not quelled the Taliban and created the peace along the pipeline route necessary to pump natural gas from Turkmenistan through Pakistan to India.

Worse, client state Pakistan has made a deal for a competing pipeline from Iran that reduces the value of "our" pipeline route. So far, our reaction has been to suddenly notice the terrorists in Pakistan who have been there all along and even funded by their government.

But that is at best a holding maneuver.

Somewhere in the corporate board rooms of the oil and gas cartels, they must be realizing that brute force is not working. The natives are not cooperating with the pillage and rape of their own country's oil, gas, and pipeline income.

So what to do? They can't simply walk away from the greatest source of the world's dwindling, easily accessible oil and gas.


What they are doing is what they should have done in the first place: offer the natives better deals as occurred in Iraq, and minimize any political offense that would prevent their government from making deals with American companies.

Which circles back to Israel.

In countries where the leaders have to be somewhat responsive to public opinion, doing business with us means tacitly condoning our ally Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the occupied territories. Their leaders can hardly afford to be seen on the front page of their newspapers signing a deal with Exxon or Chevron when the photo next to it is a dead Palestinian child or a bulldozed Palestinian home.

Likewise, even countries our oil companies already have deals with like Saudi, Kuwait, and the various Emirates must react to public opinion when it reaches a certain peak of outrage as happened during the oil embargo during the 70's.

At that point, it is no longer a matter of just padding oil companies profits, but of strategic access to the fuel that runs the world.

After the debacle of Iraq, longstanding plans to invade Saudi Arabia if the royal family is overthrown or another embargo occurred suddenly look less practical.

The only way to keep the oil flowing is to remove the political offense. Make the Israelis behave, pull back to the 1967 borders, give the Palestinians their state and stop the invasions of Lebanon. The Arab governments have said they will recognize Israel in exchange for this and polls of Arab citizens shown the same.

When those conditions are met, we will be in no danger of having the oil tap turned off.

Our foray into 19th century, British style colonialism in Asia has failed, and now the masters of the universe on Wall Street must swallow their pride and deal with the people of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia as equals and get some of their oil wealth or keep pretending they are inferior races to be herded and exterminated until we are chased out of their countries and get none of the oil money at all.

I think I know which side they'll take, and if it comes to a fight between the Israel Lobby and the Oil Industry, with trillions of dollars in oil income in jeopardy, there is no doubt who will drink whose milkshake.

1 comment:

annie said...

amazing! thanks for all the links