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 searching around.

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 in
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 think?

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 available at
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 error.

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,

Dick Leigh

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 thesis:

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.