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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's the Oil, Stupid

Jerri forwarded me this interesting article by Canadian writer Linda McQuaig. Excerpt:
Canada plays a greater role in this "keep-the-U.S.-energy-beast-fed" scenario than many Canadians may realize. A three-volume report prepared by a bipartisan Congressional team and CSIS, the Washington think tank, highlights how important Canada is in the U.S. energy picture of the future. The report, The Geopolitics of Energy into the 21st Century, notes that Canada is "the single largest provider of energy to the United States," and that "Canada is poised to expand sharply its exports of oil to the United States in the coming years."

Fine as long as Canada doesn't want to change its mind about this. Well, in fact, Canada can't change its mind about this - a point celebrated in the report. When Canada signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, we gave up our right to cut back the amount of oil we export to the U.S. (unless we cut our own consumption the same amount). Interestingly, Mexico, also a party to NAFTA, refused to agree to this section, and was granted an exemption.

The U.S. report points out that that, under NAFTA, Canada is not allowed to reduce its exports of oil (or other energy) to the U.S. in order to redirect them to Canadian consumers. Redirecting Canadian oil to Canadians isn't permitted - regardless of how great the Canadian need may be. Some outside observers, like Colin Campbell over in Ireland, find the situation striking. "You poor Canadians are going to be left freezing in the dark while they're running hair dryers in the U.S.," says Campbell. It's a situation that comforts the U.S. senators, congressmen and think-tank analysts who wrote the report. With obvious satisfaction, they conclude: "There can be no more secure supplier to the United States than Canada."

Alas, for the U.S., not every part of the world is as pliant as Canada. Most of the world's oil is in the Middle East. And while different oil regions will reach their production peaks at different times, the Middle East will peak last, underlying Cheney's point that the region is where "the prize ultimately lies." Whoever controls the big oil reserves of the Middle East will then be positioned to, pretty much, control the world.

But we're supposed to believe that, as the Bush administration assessed its options just before invading Iraq in the spring of 2003, the advantages of securing vast, untapped oil fields - in order to guarantee U.S. energy security in a world of dwindling reserves and to enable U.S. oil companies to reap untold riches - were far from mind. What really mattered to those in the White House, we're told, was liberating the people of Iraq.
Clinton, Cheney, Kerry--it's all about keeping us dependent on oil, and keeping the control of the oil in the hands of the wealthy masters.

BTW, the CSIS think tank mentioned in the article, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is the organization that put out Kissinger's statement about not rushing to follow the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. Small world, don't you think?