Neoreality: Peak Oil And Iraq
What level of American casualties should be spent to
keep America from economic and social collapse?
By Bill Henderson
12/05/05 -- -- A dispassionate observer from the outer space may
watch with amazement how an incredibly complex and resourceful
society of Homo economicus, armed with the most advanced technology
and all of the knowledge amassed through their entire history, that
is voluntarily, with determination, even enthusiastically painting
itself into a corner and reduces its future options to what in the
game of chess is termed zugzwang (compulsed move) -- by deferring
the recognition of the Universe's challenge until the crisis that is
currently clearly visible on the horizon becomes detectible through
economic and monetary mechanisms, signals from which in this
particular peculiar civilization apparently take precedence over the
other six senses.
It is perfectly reasonable that American military casualties are the
American public's prime concern in Iraq but quite clearly there is
much more at stake.
If Saddam's Iraq really did threaten even one more 9/11 scale
terrorist attack then present American casualties preventing such an
attack - 2,100 dead, 16,000 wounded - would be considered a
reasonable use of American soldiers.
But much more to the point, what level of American casualties should
be spent to keep America from economic and social collapse? What is
the real game going on in Iraq?
Prescient Canadian peak oil and politics commentator Jeff Berg
explains the necessity of casualties in Iraq this way
"(I)t will take much more than the death of a few thousand
soldiers and the addition of a few hundred billion to the U.S.
government debt (200B adds 2.5% to America's debt load) to make them
walk away from access to the hundreds of trillions of dollars, at
current prices, worth of hydrocarbons that the region will extract
over the next 50 years. (likely thousands of trillions at future
Their financial if not moral calculus becomes even more
understandable when you consider that even this amount is literally
tiny when you compare it to the economic multiplier effect that
having oil and gas allows to the industrialized world. The money
multiplier is nothing to it. Consider. By some calculations every
barrel of oil carries the equivalent of 23,200 man hours of work in
the physics sense of the term. Oil and natural gas are like air,
water or soil, in that they are easy to take for granted until you
Oil is the very lifeblood of the now globally franchised American
Way. 60% of the world's reserves are located in the Middle East. And
oil, cheap conventional oil (and natural gas if not coal), looks
increasingly like a peaking then rapidly depleting resource. Even an
oil price spike to $100 a barrel could be the end of civilization as
we know it if enough bubbles burst. As James Kunstler has pointed
out there is no O-I-L in WITHDRAWAL.
"There has, as yet, been no candid debate in the mainstream U.S.
media, still less in Congress, on the controversial question of
America's war aims. Why did the U.S. make war on Iraq? The official
reasons - Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction
and its links with Al-Qaeda - have now been shown to be lies. What
then were the real reasons?
"It would seem that men like Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Bush himself - advocates of using
military power to shape the world to America's advantage - were
persuaded that Iraq presented a tremendous prize. Its oil reserves
were equal to those of Saudi Arabia; its reconstruction was
estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars to American firms;
while its strategic position made it an ideal place from which to
project U.S. military power to the oil-rich Gulf and to a vast
region beyond. Seizing Iraq and turning it into a client state was a
Commentators have been focusing on John Mueller's analysis of the
ratio of body bags to domestic polls in previous American wars, but
Iraq isn't Vietnam and the US can't withdraw from the mess the
'geopolitical fantasists' have made in the Middle East with their
cynical aggression in Iraq. There's no retreat possible and watching
a delusional Hillary Clinton and the Dems trying to find a winnable
position on Iraq and winnable ways of saying get our boys home soon
We can't go back to decades old market control of oil with American
forces ensuring a calm Persian Gulf. There's no going back. Cheney
and Co stuck a stick in a hornets nest but the territory is far too
important, far too crucial for America's future to leave. And so
some are going to get stung and the dead in Iraq will, in all
probability, be just the first casualties on the resource war path
that no reasonable American would have chosen.
A Pandora's box has been opened. The future of the world is at stake
here because this region, Iraq, is the defining challenge of our
time ... We need to close this in a way that does not produce huge
problems down the road, that ultimately produces isolationism at
home and a world with far more security problems than at present.
United States Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad
Peak oil is the looming reality and the Bush Admin couldn't resist
the temptation to seize Iraq and American soldiers aren't leaving.
Zugzwang. And all of us aware of the bigger picture, of our serious
situation - all of us blue-staters, North American 'friends' and
former members of what was once The West, all of us globally that
have no power but will be perhaps terminally effected - just watch
and wonder if waking up is possible.
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