Oil prices are soaring in good measure because Bush administration threats against Iran have forced key U.S. allies to abort plans for new oil fields there and war talk encourages commodity speculators.
“Believing that a US-Iranian clash is at least 50 percent likely, some investors are buying futures in oil at $140, $150 or more per barrel, thinking they’ll make a killing if there’s an attack and prices zoom over $200,” author Michael Klare writes in The Nation magazine.
As a result of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, that country, with the world’s second-largest reserves after Saudi Arabia, “is producing only about half the oil it could---another reason for the global constriction of supply,” writes Klare, a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College.
At the same time, the invasion of Iraq to seize its oil has backfired on the U.S.After 9/11, Bush’s proclaimed War on Terror gave the White House a perfect opportunity to pursue the elimination of Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein, “long considered the most potent challenger to US domination of the Gulf and its critical energy supplies,” Klare said.
“But the invasion of Iraq---intended to ensure US control of the Gulf and a stable environment for the expanded production and export of its oil---has had exactly the opposite effect,” he continued.
“Despite the many billions spent on oil infrastructure protection and the thousands of lives lost, production in Iraq is no higher today than it was before the invasion,” Klare notes.
And, he adds, “Iraq has also become a rigorous training ground for extremists throughout the region, some of whom have no migrated to the oil kingdoms of the lower Gulf and begun attacking the facilities there---generating some of the recent spikes in prices.”
Klare writes that drilling in offshore U.S. waters, as favored by Bush and Sen. John McCain, “will not reverse the long-term decline in US production---so it is only by reducing demand that fundamental market forces can be addressed.”
Klare calls for a comprehensive program of energy conservation, expanding public transit and accelerating development of energy alternatives.
He said the sharp growth in petroleum costs is due largely to heightened demand and slackening supply, “compounded by the ruinous policies of the Bush Administration…”
“If this Administration truly wanted to spare Americans further pain at the pump,” Klare concludes, “there is one thing it could do that would have immediate effect: declare that military force is not an acceptable option in the struggle with Iran. Such a declaration would take the wind out of the sails of speculators and set the course for a drop in prices.” Klare’s article appeared in the July 7th issue. #
(Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant who writes on political and military topics. He has worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and wire services. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)