Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are you used to $4 a gallon gas yet?

Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time. I predict oil will never again go below $100 a barrel. 50/50 on whether it ever goes below $120 again.

It's no one's fault. The oil is running out, and it's not a surprise.

As I mentioned before, the Project for a New American Century and its white paper Rebuilding America's Defenses is a curse word for a lot of people inside and outside the GOP because the white paper is seen as the neocon blueprint that got us into the Iraq mess. Yes, Iraq is a mess, and we never should have invaded; but whether the PNAC paper was used as the justification or not, it has the math exactly right. The struggle for the world's remaining resources will only continue to intensify.

Ironically, the invasion of Iraq has made this struggle even worse. And Iraq is only producing oil at about 2/3 its pre-invasion rate. If you smiled when we invaded and waited for the price at your local pump to drop in exchange for American lives, you should be feeling a little bit let down right now. I'm sure you know people who said this openly in March 2003, but of course no one was going to say it out loud on CNN. The problem is that oil doesn't just jump into barrels - you need non-bombed oil rigs manned by technically trained workers.

But the US certainly isn't the only superpower in the world, and for some time I've been writing about China's neocolonial policies in Africa; they're interested not only in oil but in Africa's mineral wealth. China has seen how building transportation infrastructure is making client states of the poorer ASEAN countries, and they're doing the same thing all over Africa - even for regimes like Sudan, and Mauritania, where slavery was finally (nominally) outlawed in 1981. Given China's own human rights record and lack of transparency, it's not surprising that they're quite comfortable building infrastructure for the likes of Sudan and Zimbabwe.

But China and the U.S. are just two players, and the third of course is a Russia increasingly willing to discard any illusion of democracy or transparency. British Petroleum (BP) will not be the first multinational corporation to lose its operations in Russia to Putin-style governmental racketeering. And don't think that Russia doesn't know how to use its energy wealth as a massive bludgeon, especially over its neighbors. (I later added this link about similar encroachment on Exxon in Russia; click through also on their link about "resource nationalism".)

So what can we do? Besides pursuing a sensible multilateral foreign policy with the EU as allies rather than competitors, we can build more nuclear power plants - a position which fortunately is advocated by both major party presidential candidates. As McCain said, if even the French can manage it, why can't we? We need trains, and we need more electric road vehicles and agricultural equipment. At this stage they're the only realistic alternative to oil-powered transportation. Otherwise, we're exposing the US economy to the manipulations of Chinese colonialism and Russian gangsterism - and to the inevitable end of oil that will shake the world economy to the core, global warming or not.

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