Peak Oil is You

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Page added on January 29, 2010

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After the Great Financial Crisis and the Great Recession, What Next?

…The so-called “War on Terrorism” is a misnomer. One can’t have war on terrorists the way one can on nation states, as if a handful of scattered groups and individuals constitute a war opponent for the most powerful military force in history. In fact, such an objective, even if we were to take it seriously, quickly mutates into a war against whole peoples and nations, feeding imperial aspirations, which are always there. True there are real terrorists, guerrilla fighters, opponents of the United States, in the countries that Washington is struggling to control by means of militarism and imperialism. But here we come to a chicken and egg issue. To what extent are the terrorists (real or so-called) themselves the product of the prior assertion of U.S. imperial power and ambitions?

On why the United States has devoted so many resources of late to controlling this region of the world, one cannot avoid what in foreign policy circles is euphemistically referred to as its “vital strategic resources” — namely oil and natural gas. As Alan Greenspan said in his book The Age of Turbulence: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

The war in Afghanistan can of course be connected more directly to “terrorism,” or more precisely a terrorist falling out: a terrorist movement created by the CIA as a weapon in the U.S. system of imperial terror (and its combat with the Soviets), which then resulted in blowback, as Washington’s former allies refused to accept growing U.S. dominance in the Middle East and struck back with the very terrorist methods that they had been taught. But the real issues lie not with terrorism but with the objectives that led to U.S. involvement in the region in the first place: the new Great Game. These objectives can all be explained in geopolitical terms: “containing” (i.e. surrounding) Russia and Iran; controlling Central Asian natural gas and oil (and their pipelines); restricting Chinese access to the region; further enveloping the adjacent Middle East in U.S. power; asserting control over South Asia, particularly Pakistan, but also India. Afghanistan has been understood since the days of the British Empire to be a loose stone at a point where major civilizations converge. U.S. strategic planners like to look at maps. Afghanistan borders the unstable petroleum states in Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, and even China. For the imperial mind, it is therefore of great strategic significance. The United States could not have even considered expansion into this region while the Soviet


was at its height. Now it is viewed as one of the key strategic regions left open by the Soviet collapse, and the United States has been struggling to secure it ever since (indeed struggle over this region played a key role in the Soviet collapse).

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