Friday, January 26, 2007

 

Peak Oil and the Border Fence

I was discussing Mexico’s peak oil problem with someone, and imagining what will happen to Mexico’s economy and society when the time comes, as it surely will in the near future. The collapse of Cantarell means that Mexico is in some deep doo-doo. One thing you can bet on is a huge northward migration of hordes of desperate Mexicans — and I blame them not, for I too would flee in the most promising direction.

That puts the Bush administration’s plans for a $49 billion border fence in a new light. Naturally, neither peak oil nor immigration problems can be solved with a border fence, but the government probably hopes it can stave off the inevitable crush from the south, at least for a while.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

 

Those Evil North Koreans

Japan’s propaganda push to demonize North Korea is in full swing. Well, it’s more accurate to say this is the US push, because just about everything you hear in the mainstream Japanese media about the DPRK is straight out of the Book of American Political Propaganda.

I hardly ever watch TV because it’s so much BS, but today I happened to see a program that was telling what a bad country North Korea is. Well, of course it is a horrible place for people who live there. Imagine wondering where your next meal is coming from, and wondering who is spying on you, or when you’ll be sent do a labor camp where you might well die miserably. But as I mentioned in a previous post, in an international context you have to see North Korea from a different perspective, because now we are not talking about how horribly the North Korean people suffer, but how big a danger North Korea is to the world.

And there the US wins, hands down, as I pointed out in that previous post. On the program an “expert” pontificated about NK’s drug trafficking and money laundering, completely failing to mention that NK can’t hold a candle to the US in those areas, not to mention in nuclear weaponry and the propensity to attack defenseless countries on the basis of lies. And of course you will not find any mention of American concentration camps or fascism. These are taboo subjects for Japanese mainstream media.

In Japan, the image of the US as a righteous, honest, do-gooder nation that champions peace, freedom, and democracy around the world is so thoroughly ingrained that if you tell the Japanese equivalent of Joe Sixpack and Jane Doe about the utter corruption of America’s political system, or how the US is a far greater threat to the world than North Korea, they literally stand dumbfounded with their mouths hanging open. The revelation is so shocking that all their assumptions crumble in a moment.

So of course the North Korean regime is bad and the innocent North Korean people are the victims. But as a global-scale threat, North Korea will never, never catch up to the US Empire.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

 

Hooray for Randi

James Randi is revamping his offer of a $1 million prize to anyone who can demonstrate psychic powers under controlled conditions, and he’s setting his sights on the high-profile psychics who dominate the airwaves.

What’s most interesting about this is that the big-name psychics can appear on TV and not be seriously challenged by their hosts to show that they really have these preternatural powers. Why do media people give them a free pass instead of challenging them right there, on the spot, to prove their claims scientifically? That is what Randi wants to do: pressure them into proving their extraordinary abilities or stop making money with their claims.

The reason I bring this up is because the same phenomenon happens when the media bring politicians on a program. Big-time power brokers could be challenged on camera with countless uncomfortable and highly embarrassing questions that would shame them in front of millions and expose the true nature of American politics. Unfortunately, such questions are taboo, and hosts are limited to questions and topics that do not go outside the bounds of what is allowed.

Rest assured that the Randi formula will likely never be used in politics. That is because it’s the guests who decide what topics and questions are admissible, not the hosts.

Friday, January 05, 2007

 

Bad News for Nuclear Power

So, you thought that problems of fossil fuel pricing and availability would be mitigated by building more nuclear power plants? Well, think again.

The general public is no doubt totally unaware that uranium production fell behind consumption back in 1985. Over the last two decades, the shortfall has been offset by stockpiles and dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons.

Uranium keeps going up, and foreseeable production can’t even come close to filling the gap with projected demand. In the near term, that means higher prices. Over the long term, it means that humanity will start killing for uranium, just as it’s already killing for oil now.

So if governments and electric utilities are smart, they’ll start rethinking the rush toward building more expensive nuke plants, which end up being a big pile of deadly rubbish in the end, anyway.

The ultimate answer, as always, is to lower our expectations. Small is beautiful.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

 

Zionism and Oil

These days we’re seeing a surge of open discussion about the influence of the Israel lobby on US government policy, particularly that in the Middle East. This is a healthy, welcome, and long-overdue development in view of the strong and pernicious influence of this lobby, which runs counter to the true interests of the US. Especially encouraging is that heavyweights like Jimmy Carter and Scott Ritter have joined the fray, giving public discourse in this area new momentum. It’s becoming more apparent from this discussion that America’s interests are not served by an alliance with Israel, which is little more than a serious drain on US finances and a giant political liability. The lobby’s push for the illegal US attack on Iraq, and for a presumably planned attack on Iran, is a given.

But the discussion has taken a disturbing turn recently. No, I’m not talking about the absurd charges of “anti-Semitism” that fly every time someone criticizes Israeli policies or the Israel lobby. I’m talking about the idea that America’s Middle East adventure is solely inspired by Zionist influence on the elites who run the US, and has nothing to do with oil. This position is a denial of reality.

I would be one of the last to deny that Zionist influence plays a role in US Mideast policy. The debate now in progress on the Israel lobby’s influence has produced a wealth of convincing information that amply demonstrates how the lobby works and how it holds sway over US policy and members of Congress. One would have to bury one’s head in the sand not to see it.

By the same token, a head-in-the-sand position would be just as necessary not to see that the war is primarily for oil. Consider a few facts. Let’s say you run an empire. Your home country has just 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 25% percent of its energy, and you want to keep it that way. To protect supply lines, you have troops garrisoned in well over 100 countries around the globe. You have a giant military machine. This Empire runs on oil. Lots of it. Your own oil fields are in serious decline. Your Vice-Emperor is an oil man. He knows about peak oil, and he knows where about 60% of the world’s remaining oil reserves are concentrated. Despite groundless mind-candy pronouncements for public consumption that there is plenty of oil and that production will keep increasing until 2030, elites know the truth. The Empire must secure oil for itself and keep it out of the hands of competitors.

Permanent military bases being built in Iraq are to secure the oil and to prepare a strong ground-based staging area to assert control over the entire Middle East and its oil. If you want to drag Israel into this equation, consider that Israel has precious little oil of its own, and imports almost all of its crude. Israel’s economy and military machine also run on oil, and it is heavily dependent on outside sources. Without oil, Israel is toast.

It therefore makes much more sense to assume that Israeli interests (as far as Balkanizing Iraq and attacking Iran are concerned) dovetail with, and are piggybacking on, the war for oil.

Oil is the lifeblood of modern economies — and of modern military forces. Once crude prices rise to a certain point, oil-based economies will collapse, and the military forces that those economies support will be in dire straits. When that happens, empires also collapse. Study history and see what happens to empires that lose their resource bases. Oil is the sine qua non. This crucial importance of cheap and abundant oil is not lost on the elites who run the world’s oil economies, but it seems to be lost on those who claim the war is not for oil.

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