Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Take your sides...

Daniel Altman at the International Herald Tribune does some big joined-up thinking about the snatch-and-grab efforts of US oil companies in Kurdistan as part of the start of a larger global scramble for resources:

I’m not going to get into the he-said, she-said of whether the State Department sufficiently discouraged the Kurds from signing the deal with Hunt Oil or not. As James Glanz and Richard Oppel write, this is another example of some fairly cynical dealing by Washington on the question of Iraqi oil. To play the devil’s advocate, though, I wonder if the American government isn’t just playing the same game as so many other countries that are worried about their energy supplies.

Venezuela nationalized foreign oil companies’ holdings. Russia is making its joint venture partners uncomfortable, even stripping TNK-BP executives of their visas (you may recall, loyal readers, that I asked what they were still doing in Russia back in March). Brazil is jealously guarding its enormous new oil find. China happily does business with Sudan. And now, the United States is trying to secure as much of Iraq’s oil as it can, by hook or by crook. Given such high oil prices, isn’t that something that American voters can support? Sure, it may go some ways to showing that the second Gulf War was really about oil… but is now the right time to complain?

Well, if that's a serious question, I'd say we're all fucked. Obviously before the war would have been a better time to complain, but you'd have to hope that it'd do some good now. If, as Altman seems to, you see Iraq as part of the way that states are adapting to the scarcity of global energy, you'd think it'd be even more important to object to achieve international co-operation on these matters. Or maybe it's all too late and we'd just better dig in for a the coming international resource war.


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