Early in June I posted links to an Exxon-Mobil study of energy futures
and a study of the study by Alfred Cavallo in the Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists. The whole post is at the bottom of this, so no
Then Joe Schwartz wrote
At 02:46 AM 6/10/2005, you wrote:
Thanks Dick. Enjoy + weep =
But does the plateau of non-Opec oil shed light on the US adventure
Iraq? Many analysts, emmanual wallerstein in the monthly review for
example have argued that the US went into Iraq to prevent Europe fron
making deals with the MIddle East. But this now sounds more like US
policy makers want to get their hands on OPEC oil. What do you
Then I got very busy, but I'm back.
Well, maybe enjoy + weep = tragedy, but I'm just guessing.
On the Wallerstein question, it's interesting. The article is
and it takes a big picture view of the Iraq war as a necessary result
or part of US global imperialism. He makes a lot of interesting
points about the slippage of US hegemony and the need (at least as
perceived by the hawks) to slam some small country up against a wall just
to show we can do it. (Anyone know the source of that image?
It's not me.)
There is a lot of evidence that rivalry with Europe over influence
(deals) in the oil rich middle east played a part. I clearly
remember discussions of Sadam's interest in oil contracts denominated in
Euros, and how crazy that made the US.
So I buy most of his arguments as valid, but when he says "...they
did not go to war on Iraq even for oil" he loses me.
Events can have more than one cause, and the more potential causes there
are around, the more likely the event. Asserting hegemony,
sure. Blocking Europe, sure. "W" showing he's mas macho
than papa, sure. But why was papa in Iraq? Remember, April
Glaskie told Sadam Hussein the US wasn't interested in inter-Arab border
disputes when he asked. Talk about a set-up! Bush senior
wanted to whack Sadam to have more control over OPEC, but decided
(incorrectly) that he had reduced him to compliance and could live with
Sadam lite still in Baghdad. W is out to correct that
We were there for the oil. We've always been there for the
oil. Well, not always, but as soon as we could squeeze the British
out. Bush and especially Cheney have spent their lives in the oil
business. Cheney knows supply is shrinking and demand growing and
he knew it then, before Exxon published their report. Hubbert knew
about the supply part in 1960, and the whole industry knows it too.
Why shouldn't Cheney have known the middle east would be the swing supply
area and been acting on that basis in 2000-2003? Iraq has the third
largest reserves, and #1 (Saudi Arabia) is sort of under control and #2
(Iran) isn't vulnerable.
So I'll accept all the other reasons as contributory, but claiming the
"our oil, their sand" situation isn't central was mistaken in
2003 (when Wallerstein wrote) and in the light of what's known now about
the intersection of limited supply and explosive Chinese and Indian
demand (which was known to the oil industry even then), I think it's
clear this resource is the key element in their thinking.
I thought about claiming that I was offering a materialist analysis and
Wallerstein presenting a Hegelian dialectic of ideas, but I decided not
to. It's getting late, and I would probably be wrong.
All the best,
My post of 9 June:
An analysis from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at
analyzes a recent report from Exxon Mobil, available at
and finds that behind the bravado, a serious supply problem is
emerging. (Not this year, but over the next 5-10.)
I recommend reading the article by Cavallo first, then you can pierce the
corporate fog in the "2004 Energy Outlook Presentation" (pdf)
more quickly. The pdf contains only the lovely graphics;
there is explanatory prose on that page of the web site, but the graphics
there aren't as clean.
As far as content goes, I could rave for hours, but I'll just mention
three points that are interesting but not directly related to Cavallo's
1) The E-M future is a climate change nightmare (surprise!) with
dramatically increased electric generation dominated by coal.
2) Chart 13 is for those of us who think the "hydrogen
economy" is a scam to distract effort away from real efficiency
work: it shows that a theoretical, optimized, future, currently
unavailable hydrogen car has about the same climate change impact and
operating cost as a Prius you can order today! (There is a waiting
list, I understand.)
3) The next-to-last chart shows the depth of E-M and their
partner's commitment to efficiency. They are proud to have given
Stanford $225 million. But that's from four companies with
multi-billion dollar budgets over ten years! $5.5 million per
company per year! Chump change.
Well, enjoy or discard or weep, as you wish.