Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oil, interests, Iraq and reality

Firstly, thank you for all the warm wishes in my new venture, it's going to be an exciting ride.

Now, as I told you last week I will sporadically still post and today is such a day as I've just read the Independent's Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq, which, as you'd expect has caused a little bit of screeching from the appeaser of brutal dictators on the Left with the expected "see we told you Iraq was about oil!"

There is however a rather simple response to that which is "so what?". When we look at the details of the story it seems that BP spoke to people in the UK Government before the invasion of Iraq. They noted that under the current "oil for food" deal in place at the time with Iraq, the French company TotalFinaElf stood to become the world single biggest oil supplier should the contract stay in place in a post-Saddam world and that wasn't in BP (or for that matter Shell's) business interests, and that oil contracts post-Saddam should be sliced up a bit.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Is it really shocking or even wrong that a business should lobby Government about something that is of interest to their business because of a potential imbalance in the global market in which they operate? I'd say not.

Likewise, is it really shocking or wrong that post-Saddam, global oil producers would be going in and spending oodles of their own money to extract the black gold out of the ground so that we could all buy it given that we're so dependent on oil we needed it? Errrr yet another resounding no methinks.

Way back before the invasion of Iraq I can remember seeing a most salient point online by someone I knew on the "war for oil" line. It went along the lines of "why not have a war for oil when you also get rid of a brutal bastard who is controlling the stuff? It's win win surely?". He was right, it was a win win situation.

On the one hand you displaced a dictator who whether he had weapons or not wanted them and was a right git to the populace over which he controlled; and on the other you removed his control over massive oil reserves and stopped one single company dominating the oil market.

"What about the million who died?" will of course be the response to that. To which the easy answer is "that figure is a made up extrapolation" and secondly "would you have preferred to just leave the guy in place to kill people?" Of course, you won't win an argument about Iraq with anyone who was, is and remain anti the action. The argument will shift slowly along whilst they miss the odd nature of their position that means they were happy to allow Hussein to remain in place.

The thing is,what seems to be lost on so many is that politics internationally will always involve interests as well as other things. Humanitarian missions will always include those interests, and if they are no interests for a country then the humanitarian aspect is, however much it sucks, not enough alone to act. That's why there has been no invasion of Zimbabwe. If someone discovered masses of oil reserves there then you know what, it would be different. That is realism and that is how the world works now and pretty much always has.

As long as there is Government and/or nations, and as long as there are businesses and traders that work with that Government and/or nations, then it will remain the case that despots will be overthrown depending on what they've got. Wars are not fought over principle they're fought over resources, be it coal and steel between France and Germany, or simple straight forward territorial expansion and the resources that brings.

Yes, it's very easy to sit back and say "surely we can all get along and have a group hug and not do this?", but such views are little more than displays of naive ignorance towards human nature in the current geopolitical reality in which we live.

I imagine for some this will be a highly controversial and immoral view to have, but you know what, it's real life and don;t expect it to change. Hell, even if little green men came down from the stars and said "you're not alone in the Universe" we might unite globally but we'd still just expand the arena in which such realistic views exist so nations would be replaced by planets, a new and, dare I say it, final frontier (*pukes*) would open up and we'd carry on doing it again.

Ironically I'm not much different to the lefties who say "see it was all about oil, but we knew that already", the only difference is that I don't actually see what wrong with that per se. Yes, the unintended consequences after the fact may turn out to be regrettable and undesirable, but the judgment itself to act within your interests isn't inherently wrong, immoral or unethical, it's just realistic.

It is of course easy to sit on the sidelines and scream with moral righteousness thanks to 20/20 hindsight and philosophically flawed world views about production and capital. Things change though when you're the one making the decision and reality is laid out for you.

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