Thursday, August 14, 2008

Georgia, George Bush and Oil

Just wanted to throw this little gem out for the morning, slightly controversial to some I imagine, but it goes like this. There have been some, not just in the comments on this blog, who have mentioned that, in relation to Georgia and the US reaction to it, that it's all about oil pipelines and that if certain parts of Africa had oil we would care more.

This is absolutely right. Of course the strategic interest of an oil pipeline makes foreign policy stances different, and quite right too. Wars and countries with strategic interest but who are not directly involved in the conflict, will always be guided by those interests. People may not like it, they may say it is unethical, but it is the way things are.

Take Iraq and the oil angle. Here we had a dictator sitting on massive reserves who was hostile to the West, who also, quite crucially, and in the unanimous opinion of the United Nations, had a concealed weapons programme (forget whether that judgement was correct or not because it is irrelevant).

At the same time a judgment had to therefore be made upon what the potential threat to the bordering countries of Iraq were in respect of what was considered to be a reality. That judgment will, whether one likes it or not, quite rightly be made in line with the strategic interests of each state individually.

The strategic interests in this respect were obviously oil, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a natural resource that people need and the possibly of supply disruption will have been a primary consideration by a nation the size and scale of the USA. There is nothing wrong with that all.

So take a look at Georgia. A nation with a dirty great oil pipeline running through being attacked by Russia, a dirty great big country who's economy is based largely on its stranglehold of energy supply, and one which has shown it is happy to use that control to get what it wants by switching off the taps (see Ukraine). What exactly does one expect to happen when that is the reality of the geopolitical and energy situation?

Energy - and its continuing supply unhindered by nations willing to hold it to ransom - is far more important to the world than anything else (unless you're a crazy envirofascist that wishes to live back in the Stone Age). No energy resource would bring economic turmoil, greater impact on food supply; massive slowdown in growth, and would also increase the likelihood of large-scale conflict rather than isolated small scale ones.

A “war for oil” therefore, or supporting the side that has oil you wouldn’t mind buying, is an inherently realistic thing. You may not like it; you may think it is immoral and unethical, but here's the clincher, when you're in a situation and position of power where you have to consider worst case scenarios and the consequence of them, ethics and morality are not by necessity equal to that which is the correct action.

6 comments:

canvas said...

If only these hypocritical politicians would speak the truth...imagine...

"Hey Old White Haired Dude - it's our oil - not yours. You're not a Georgian today, or tomorrow, or ever. Put some money in my bank account and you'll get the oil."

or

"Hey Weird Little Russian Gnome Man - we are taking your oil away from you whether you like it or not. You owe us the oil because we put you in the G8. "

But instead we get told by the worlds police chief, George W Bush, that he is fighting for 'freedom' and 'democracy'. What a load of crap.

As the Washington Post reported this week:
"John McCain's strong anti-Russia comments on the Georgia situation and the fact that his top foreign policy adviser is part owner of a lobbying firm that provides strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington have produced a surge of anti-McCain comments."

Quite right too.

Did George Bush respect Iraq's border when the rest of the world condemned the USA/UKs aggressive and disproportionate actions?

Oil Oil Oil

George Bush didn't react to the situation in Darfur or Zimbabwe in such an assertive manner... no oil = no help? But of course.

Most politicians are so hypocritical. Georgia started this entire mess of a war. Shame on Georgia, Shame on Russia too.

Dizzy, you might think I'm naive but I really think Obama is different. He might have to play the political game to a degree for awhile - you have to be in the system to change the system - but I really believe that he is not a phony like these other liars we are forced to listen to.

It's just like we discussed yesterday - an honest politician would offer REAL choice. Just tell us 'YES, IT IS FOR THE OIL' instead of feeding us lies lies lies.

Is it too much to ask for - the truth?

Goliath said...

Interesting post, however when you claim that there is nothing 'wrong' with military action to safeguard energy supplies, you're making a moral judgement.

What you seem to be actually suggesting is that international actors are attempting to make rational decisions that will best suit their own interests.

So a military intervention in X-country could be 'wrong' but also rational........

canvas said...

By the way, Dizzy, you say:

"The strategic interests in this respect were obviously oil, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a natural resource that people need and the possibly of supply disruption will have been a primary consideration by a nation the size and scale of the USA. There is nothing wrong with that all."

---------------

But when thousands of innocent civilians are killed - families, homes, livelihoods and communities are destroyed in the name of obtaining 'oil' - then surely all that human suffering is plain wrong?

and surely you must think that there is something wrong with that?

Especially if we are then told that actually it's about 'freedom' and 'democracy' - not oil.

Wrong? I think, yes, it is very wrong.

Alex said...

The fact that the "optimal" course of action is not necessarily the most ethical or moral is not an excuse for immoral action.

The immoral course of action is often preferred by those politicians who are too cowardly to take the moral course. Neither Bush, Blair nor Brown could be said to have shown any moral courage. Bush is surrounded by a vast machinery that insulates him from criticsm much more than a UK PM (no chance of him being forced out by Congress and the Senate in the way that MP's could oust a PM). Blair always covered unpopular moves with outrageous lies and Brown just runs for cover.

geoffers said...

"when you're in a situation and position of power where you have to consider worst case scenarios and the consequence of them, ethics and morality are not by necessity equal to that which is the correct action."

An unpleasant truth well said.

canvas said...

well, well, well, take a look at some of the text from this article in the Times today...

"A major offensive involving 300 Sudanese government battlewagons intended to clear space for Chinese oil exploration in Darfur's far north has begun, according to rebel commanders who have come under attack.

Oil companies have been waiting for the Government to secure the region before starting work on seismic surveys.

The claims of fresh fighting come after Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese President, embarked on a two-day peace mission to Darfur last month, promising investment and inviting rebel leaders to talks.

His visit took place days after the International Criminal Court's prosecutor accused him of genocide, murder and crimes against humanity."



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I despair.