Mideastsource

Thursday, December 08, 2005

THE STRATEGIC POWER OF OIL AND SHOOTING OURSELVES IN THE HEAD



INTELLIGENCE REPORT #101
FROM RICHARD P. ROBISON’S LATEST BOOK, JUST RELEASED:
THE MIDDLE EAST EXPLAINED: Answering the Critical Questions on America’s Middle East Challenge (November 2005, 336 pgs., AuthorHouse Publishers, www.authorhouse.com)

I am continually amazed at the utter foolishness and hopeless naïveté of the American people, and the cowardice of our national leaders unwilling to make the simple, yet right choices. Nothing demonstrates this better than America’s insane, suicidal approach to national energy policy. We in America, through our own very poor choices, we are letting our future prosperity, even our security, be determined by a relative handful of mostly foreigners who are skillfully plotting to control an increasingly larger percentage of global energy. Even though we see it coming plain as day, we are unwilling to do what is necessary to prevent this modern-day piracy.

How could this happening to us? Well, during my recent trip to the Middle East region I met with a senior officer in a mammoth Turkish company that builds oil refineries, tanker port facilities, in fact almost any major construction project required by the rapidly expanding Persian Gulf oil and gas industry. This Turkish company is currently in the thick of an incredible array of oil refinery, port, and petro-chemical projects, from the Persian Gulf region to the Pacific Rim. Truly an “insider,” my well-placed source outlined a dizzying list of building projects commissioned by mostly Arab and Iranian oil producers, and their Asian (Chinese and Japanese) partners, to ensure the inevitable dominance of not only crude oil markets, but also natural gas sales. They have gone one step further, rapidly expanding the development of gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology, these hyper-modern refineries springing up throughout the Gulf region, particularly in Qatar and in Iran, both possessing the world’s largest supplies of natural gas. Look at what this means, as vast new types of energies are integrated into the market in coming years! (Read between the lines here, PLEASE.)

So, while American environmentalists have worked night and day to lock up some of our most productive oil and gas fields, or let many deteriorate with disuse, Persian Gulf oil producers, along with their Asian partners, are racing to expand production up and down stream (from drilling new wells and upgrading old, to expanding high-quality distribution outlets, as well as develop incredible new-generation hydrocarbons). The Asians, and the Gulf producers, understand what is at stake here. And this is exactly what we should be doing. Yet, America insanely locks away potentially phenomenal fields such as Anwar in Alaska, or prevents drilling off the coast of California, the East Coast, or in the Gulf of Mexico, or refuses to develop oil shale and tar sands, while at the same time allowing environmentalist wacko groups over the past 30 years to prevent the building of any new oil and gas refineries in the U.S. Ask any expert. Our existing refineries are running flat out, pushing 98% capacity, which is essentially more than maximum capacity. We as a nation have never been more vulnerable to energy industry shocks than we are right now. We are on thin, no very thin, ice.

I would not be surprised at all if the Arab mega-oil producers have been secretly supporting the many environmental activists in this country over the past couple of decades, secretly funneling them money through shell companies and bogus front groups. For America’s environmentalist movement has done more to undermine America’s security and prosperity than any foreign enemy we’ve ever faced. What’s especially amazing (and dangerous) about these groups is that they have been so effectively sold to the America people as something they are not. Who can criticize “clean air and clean water?” “Everybody wants that, right?”

Add to this challenge the ongoing selfishness on the part of most Americans in insisting on driving gas-guzzling monster cars, in driving many more miles than is necessary, in building houses far larger than needed, and in generally rushing about hopelessly “consuming mass quantities.” Yes, we are our own worst enemies.

As to my oil industry friend. He explained it all so well: Because Americans are unwilling to get in and tackle their energy problems seriously, others will do it for them, and these “others” will not be looking out for the best interests of the United States. Enter the Persian Gulf oil producers (and set aside for the moment the links between petro-dollars and terrorism). Take Saudi Arabia, for example: 75 to 100 years of proven reserves of crude oil, and almost unlimited supplies of natural gas! Ditto (generally) the other “Gulfies.” Are we running out of oil? Not in the Gulf region, no way. Insult to injury, Saudi and Kuwait crude oil costs these modern-day buccaneers about $2.25 per barrel to lift and ship via supertanker anywhere in the world. $2.25 per barrel! What is the price of crude oil selling for on international markets? Yes, dang-it, over $50 a barrel! Indeed, these are modern-day pirates, gouging the world’s eyes out at the pump. American oil producers pay many times more than that to lift and produce their oil, and their profit margins are nothing to whine about.

Most Americans, however, just sit back on their asses and watch the world go by, unwilling to roll up their sleeves, get environmentally realistic, and protect themselves. So, these modern-day Arab and Iranian corsairs pour billions of dollars into expanding not only existing and new oil wells in the Gulf region, in Iran and in Iraq, but also into building new and expanding GTL refineries and petrochemical plants with the ultimate goal of capturing greater market share and dominating overwhelmingly the world’s energy supplies. Get the picture?

As world demand skyrockets—it is going absolutely wild in China with the Chinese gobbling up energy, industrializing, militarizing—Middle East oil producers will expand production as fast as necessary to keep the price of oil relatively low (thus discouraging the development of competing energies). (Yes, over the next few years, short of absolute conflagration in the Middle East, as we’ve proven above, oil prices will decline.)

In the process, America and the world will become increasingly dependent upon Middle East oil—and far more vulnerable—and OPEC producers will not only reap the windfall, but also become increasingly rich and powerful players in world finance, in shaping how the war on terror will be waged, and become king-makers in the competition between Superpower States, such as China, Europe, and the United States.

Yet, all of this is so unnecessary, for America’s energy industry unleashed would further magnify America’s power in the world, reshape the nature of the war on terror, and provide an even greater, more effective American vehicle for spreading freedom and representative government the world over. This would benefit us all. Coupled with a genuine American belt-tightening, and the United States could accomplish miracles. This is precisely why the Middle East has become the most critical global region and key to either prosperity and freedom, or…Armageddon. But don’t expect the “Friends of the Earth,” or the Sierra Club to ever admit (or comprehend) the damage they’ve done. Indeed, that would be a miracle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

FATALISM VS. SELF-DETERMINATION IN MIDEAST TRADITION


FROM RICHARD P. ROBISON’S LATEST BOOK, JUST RELEASED:

"THE MIDDLE EAST EXPLAINED: Answering the Critical Questions on America’s Middle East Challenge "

It is impossible to separate In-sha-Allah, God Wills It, from Middle East Islamic lands. Absolutely impossible. Is this concept Islamic? Yes and no. Yet certainly the fatalism that oozes from the Middle East goes back a very long time.

A child runs into the street and is killed by a truck, God willed it, do not trouble yourself. A businessman fails in a new enterprise, such are the ways of Allah. A woman dies of cancer, it was God’s will, nothing could be done. Such are the workings and ways when living in the land of Khalli-ha-Allah, “Leave it to God.”

While such a lifestyle tends to prevent stress and eliminate ulcers, in reality due to the historical and cultural mechanisms of “Leave it to God,” the Middle East is destined to fall even further behind a world that is beginning to awaken to the value of productivity, education, and technology, especially information technologies.

And in the nations of East Asia, especially, these billions are rocketing into the twenty-first century. But not so in the Islamic heartland, particularly in the Arab Middle East. When comparing so-called Western (Christian) economic and political values, and those of traditional Muslim regions, Islam comes away shooting itself in the foot time and again.

In the Christian West, philosophical traditions going back even before Christianity worked to strengthen the cultural importance of “making your own way,” that mankind’s future is not determined by the gods, but by individual choices made in the arena of life each and every day. Ancient is this critical concept, perhaps originating with the Greeks, but percolating down through the millenniums, encouraging and leading to Western-styled self-determination and individualism, the right of property ownership, of the inherent superiority of personal freedom and choice over Eastern-style serfdom and bondage, a bondage, a “submission” (the true meaning of “Islam”) “willed by God” (or Allah). In the end, freedom and self-determination will always trump the damning nature of fatalism, of kowtowing to “Allah’s (or anyone’s) will.” And personal freedom will do it every single time.

BEOWULF, TROUBLE’S SURE, AND AVOIDING BLAME

Allah’s will, in fact, is another way of shifting responsibility, of eliminating blame, protecting honor and saving face. Westerners, meaning Americans and their older relatives, the Europeans, have recognized the futility of such thinking for a long time and it has bode well for them.

For example, let’s look at the very old Nordic poem Beowulf. These words of wisdom tell a man that regardless of his fate, in the end he and he alone is responsible for his success or failure, though certainly luck plays a role. And luck has nothing to do with the gods.

In life mankind faces trouble, danger, even death:

“While the world and sun endure,

Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure.”

In other words, no matter how hard you try, and no matter if you stay home hidden “safely” beneath your bed, trouble will come looking for you. Sooner or later, trouble is a sure thing.

Certainly God is a factor and can play a role, but not really much of a role, most Westerners believe. Mostly, we find that each of us makes our own luck each and every day by our choices, and then we deal, as best we can, with the problems which always come our way, troubles not of God, but just of life, of “luck.”

Most importantly, we can actually make our own “luck” by our choices, and by our preparation, our research, or knowledge, or lack thereof. Choice, not “Allah’s will,” governs the lives of free men and women. A great American religious leader once responded, when asked how he taught his people to live good lives: “Simple,” he said. “I teach them correct principles, then let them govern themselves.”

Thursday, December 02, 2004

THE MIDDLE EAST INTELLIGENCE REPORT #2001

MIDDLE EAST INTELLIGENCE REPORT #2001:
THE SEVEN SHROUDED TRUTHS BEHIND U.S.-MIDEAST POLICY

By Rashid

SUMMARY: The three great global power centers—The European Union, The Peoples’ Republic of China, and the United States—all rely on the oil resources of the Persian Gulf. With a powerful move into Iraq by the Americans, the strategic marginalization of Europe, and Saudi Arabia will continue on schedule. Given strong regional military dominance the U.S can better ensure continued global economic stability and predominance. Global economic success, more so hegemony, is the heart of national security. These primal issues driving American Middle East policy are, by design, veiled. Not that President Bush and his team of specialists are executing the sinister and nefarious. On the contrary, they are not only exceedingly skilled, they are acting in America’s best interest, and more generally, the security of the world.

REPORT #2001:
The United States’ success in Iraq changes the global strategic equation in major ways. In victory, America has gained much more than simply the overthrow of a dangerous enemy dictator. First, regarding Europe, a successful American operation against Saddam’s loyalists and terrorists further marginalizes the Europeans in the war on terror.
Obviously lacking a viable military projection capability, the Europeans will at last be exposed to the world as the non-players they have become, lacking global vision and influence, and by extension, increasingly impotent on the world scene. The world’s “Girlie Men.” More so, much of Europe has become what I call the “Terminal Mercenaries” revelations from the United Nations’ oil-for-food scandal painting an ugly, highly incriminating picture of the French, Germans, and Russians, not to mention many within the U.N.’s leadership. With their hands stuck in the cookie jar, the Europeans have been squirming over the U.S. move into Iraq for some time.
For their own good, the Europeans need to get beyond their own selfish greed and corruption and become part of the solution, rather than the problem. U.S. successes in the Middle East have long-term security and prosperity ramifications for the entire world, especially Europe. Once more, almost single-handedly, Uncle Sam is taking the heat for the avaricious Europeans, as well as the rest of the world. President Bush deserves respect and admiration, not hatred and derision.
Not only will a successful, pro-U.S. government in Iraq expose just how weak and indecisive the Europeans have become, more than that the Peoples’ Republic of China will witness further inroads by the United States into controlling a principal source of Chinese and Asian oil so vital to Chinese industrialization and military expansion. The Chinese Achilles Heel. Without a doubt, the Chinese are growing increasingly dependent upon cheap Middle Eastern hydrocarbons.
With vast new discoveries of oil in Iraq soon to come, the region further grows in strategic importance. The three great global power centers—the European Union, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and the United States—all are depend on the resources of this region, but for different reasons and in different degrees.
As well, the Saudis, the leaders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), will further find their global influence wane as these huge, American-controlled reserves in Iraq come on-line. So will Iran. As the United States and its allies become increasingly entrenched in the region, Saudi, Syrian, and Iranian support for radical Islamic causes and terrorism worldwide will be punished militarily and financially.
With the powerful, decisive move into Iraq and into the greater Middle East by the Americans, the strategic marginalization of Europe will continue on schedule. It is inevitable, in fact, further gutting lucrative European commercial sales, especially including weaponry and technology, in this highly profitable and expansive Mideast market.
Iraq will need rebuilding and stabilizing, franchises established, and lucrative joint-ventures consummated for years to come. With strong regional military dominance, lucrative markets are naturally more easily captured, usually exclusively, by the victors. That is what victors do.
Profitable commerce is the willing mistress of the conqueror, of the nation of power and virility, the nation of honor, strength and security. Middle Easterners, perhaps more than any other people on earth, understand this. This is about their security.
Mid-Easterners respect a winner. They have looked for a great conquering warrior since the days of Saladin, the great vanquisher of the Crusader, Richard, the one called “Lionhearted.” A loser is shameful, lacking honor, and not to be trusted. When honor is compromised, the death of one’s own security can’t be far behind. The shameful and weak deserve death; it is, in fact, a mercy killing. The Middle Eastern dictator retaliates harshly and vindictively against his enemy first and foremost to set a precedent. Anything less brings the enemy back, often stronger, with vengeance-filled.
The Middle East holds so much more than mere oil for America’s future prosperity. The Middle East is honor, power, and highly visible national virility for the world to see, all leading inevitably to strategic security.

The Seven Shrouded Truths behind U.S.-Mideast Policy:

1- The strategic power of Middle East oil, and the struggle to protect and control these primal resources, is the insurance policy for continued U.S. global leadership, power and control, and ultimate long-term global hegemony.

2- No Middle East dictators or regimes (excepting Israel), beyond the influence and iron-fisted control of the United States, will be allowed to acquire and field weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver such weapons. Iraq will be the example.

3- The radicalization of Islamic fundamentalist factions, and their desire to integrate and coordinate terrorism with other hostile cells and/or nations, will not be tolerated by the United States. Any nation harboring or supporting such activity will be in America’s sights and reap the whirlwind.

4- The Arab-Israeli conflict over control of “holy” lands while important is in effect a sideshow. The real challenge lies in Persian Gulf lands, and in the Caspian basin, and is centered on strategic oil resources and the control of, or hegemony over, these resources. Generally, and sadly, the Palestinians are pawns in this global game, used mostly by their Muslim “brothers” for larger political ends.

5- The continued unequal distribution of Middle East lands and resources among traditionally warring, mostly impoverished tribal factions while their youth explode in impossible numbers, is a primal factor in Middle East unrest and social anger. The U.S. must use leverage on dictatorial regimes to ease the pressure building in the cities and villages through economic opportunity and greater personal freedoms.

6- The unequal distribution of Middle East political power is a constant smoldering flash point in all areas. The call for democracy and the exposing of endemic corruption and nepotism by rulers and warlords is growing increasingly louder with each passing year. Pressure must be alleviated by true democratic political reforms, civil rights and protections under a just law (not Islamic Law).

7- The rapid cultural, economic, and military penetration by America into Muslim lands, and the accompanying lightning-fast technological advances, are causing cultural and religious disruption and unrest. The Middle East is being wrenched, almost overnight, from the Dark Ages into the modern world. The accompanying cultural disruption is playing perfectly into the hands of the activists, radicals, and terror-mongers. Such penetration, however, is a fact of life and a process that is irreversible. We must soften the impact, somehow.

It should be obvious by now that Iraq is a high-stakes game, driven by U.S. national security interests that cannot be separated from the war on terror and on strategic challenges coming from China and Europe and elsewhere. Global economic success, even hegemony, is the heart of national security.
These primal issues driving American Middle East policy are, by design, veiled. Not that President Bush and his team of specialists are executing the sinister and nefarious. On the contrary, they are not only exceedingly skilled, but they are acting in America’s best interest, and more generally, the world as a whole. Many are salivating over control of this pivotal region, and most are not nearly so pleasant as Bush, Cheney, and Rice. They are found scheming in Tehran, in Beijing, and in a dozen or more nations and lands.
Hunting down and killing Muslim terrorists not only makes us feel better, it has, in some cases, stifled the murderous ones for a time. But more importantly, it provides a reason for continued U.S. presence in Muslim oil-rich lands of the Gulf and Southwest Asia. Certainly the mounting, very global threat is genuine, though poorly understood by most Americans. Yet our ignorance is a menace as dangerous as the terrorists who attack us.
Truly America is at war; we are fighting for our lives. But don’t expect the French, the Germans, the Chinese, or the Iranians especially, to be even marginally understanding anytime soon. The stakes are just too high.

--RASHID
December 2, 2004