Saturday, 3 September 2011

Libya as a Resource War.

Terry Macalister reports in The Guardian today on the issue of Libya ( So, was this a war for oil ? September 2 2011 ),

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not "for" oil. The country's economy is almost totally dependent on hydrocarbons and a key objective for the transitional government will be to get the wells up and running again as soon as possible.

The British and French, meanwhile, are worried about future energy supplies. They are already pushing and shoving over who should get what of the energy proceeds before the political dust has even settled in Tripoli (just as BP and Shell are once again sitting pretty in Iraq following western military intervention there).

The UK government has been working hand in glove with parts of the oil industry to bring about regime change in Libya. London crude trader,
Vitol, held meetings with international development minister Alan Duncan (a former consultant to the firm) and played a key role in keeping the rebels well-supplied with petrol while others tried to starve Muammar Gaddafi's troops of fuel. Was this a practical operation to
undermine Gaddafi's military logistics or a potent symbol that western politics and oil are so closely intermeshed that the agendas of both are indistinguishable?

....The British have not been so public about their expectations but we know that BP has already held talks with the new opposition leaders and are preparing to re-enter the country. Clearly, the role of Vitol, never mind the RAF jets, will require some recognition in the new Libya that emerges – at least in the eyes of the UK political and oil establishment.

A good and far more informative article about what is at stake with regards Libya. However this is a little questionable,

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not "for" oil.

This is mere semantics. The intervention by France, Britain and the USA is not "all about oil" as no conflict is strictly about one thing. Yet it is a key objective of the "intervention" to secure oil supply from Libya in a way that was hardly guaranteed when Gaddafi lost de facto control of Libya.

Western powers could not see one of the largest supplies of high grade oil with little sulphur content that is used in numerous household consumer goods and for energy fall into limbo or fuel a conflict that could have led to regional instability if forces hostile to the West gained control over it.

Intervention in Libya is not about oil if it is seen as only about corporate profits, though that to will be a beneficial spin off. Primarly it is about diversification of supplies in a world of growing oil demand and diminishing global supplies. If one state collapses, there must be other oil reserves always on tap.

Given that many oil producing states have authoritarian regimes or dictatorships and ethnic and sectarian problems, the need to control ever more supplies of oil is now the main driving force of geopolitics in the 21st century. Any discussion that fails to mention oil is footling irrelevance.

Those in the West wanting to understand the importance of fossil fuels need only read the business section of newspapers and online editions of newspapers from other nations. Then the reason for Afghanistan too becomes clear: the construction of the TAPI pipeline.

Such interventions are often rationalised as "enlightened self interest". In fact, the new epoch of history unfolding now in the two decades since the end of the Cold War is more obviously one of resource wars and the New Great Game for control of supplies of oil and gas.

The problem is that this frightens many people so they refuse to face these facts. They want to believe in liberal intervention without seeing that the impact of such foreign policies can often make the conflicts they seek to solve even more entrenched.

Libya could develop into another Iraq fairly quickly. Gaddafi can still cause a humanitarian crisis from the south in the Fezzan by curring off the water to Tripoli. As in Iraq, the chaos could lead to the NTC failing to restore order in Libya and it's authority will not be recognised.

Should that occur, the West will be in a terrible quandary: it has to face the situation of having invested colossal sums of money in aiding the anti-Gaddafi forces and a lack of stability as bad and destructive as when Gaddafi threatened to cause bloodshed in Benghazi.

Unless Western states deeply technology to find alternatives to overdependence upon oil and governments stop such absurdities as low budget airlines, then the blowback will be increased migration, terrorist threats and decivilisation.

A dilemma that could be considered as a consumer choice.

The important point about thee interventions is that they have proved ineffective. Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya are resource wars. The previous two have proved futile. The abstract arguments about 'humanitarian intervention' ignore the fact that moral crusades founder when the reality on the ground intrudes.

Wherever there are resouces such as oil at stake the conflict to control them breeds corruption, greed, and ethnic and tribal enmities with that state, not least in lands where it barely functions as such. Statesmen in the West need to start reading Hobbes again instead of clinging to utopian liberal internationalism.

The amount of money spent on weapons and military reactions to securing energy supplies would be better spent in thinking of national survival through a total strategy that involves reduction of dependence upon fossil fuels as a national emergency.

The idea of a continued toxic growth utopia is flawed progressive thinking. The need with forthcoming resource shortages should be to protect and survive and oil cannot be squandered as if the relatively low cost of petrol in the West means there is no conflicting need here with the high prices oil producers need.

The burgeoning populations in Arab Muslim nations mean that such control over their oil, and forcing up prices to diversify their economies, clashes with the need for the senescent low birth consumer utopias of the West to have lower oil prices to make consumers happy and re-elect politicians.

Remember that the oil tanker drivers who blockaded the ports and went on strike in 2000 nearly brought down Blair's government. The strikers were supported by most Britons who demand low prices for oil whilst not realising that Iraq was a necessary consequence of their high octane lifestyles.

It was that which led Blair to support the US invasion of Iraq and support a realignment with Gaddafi soon after. Again as Iraq's supply failed to increase after it fell into anarchy, Gaddafi was courted to make up the shortfall. That is demonstrated by the news just today that MI6 collaborated with Gaddafi.

That wars in the 21st are for resources is obvious. The question is this : what are we going to do about it ?

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