Saturday, August 06, 2005

Marines, iq, Kuwait, CBP, NPT, Peak Oil, ALA, U. Chicago, Turkey

1) "Abu Tamam" Blog has a wildly variant version of what happened to the Marines who died this week. Whatever's going on, it's not going well:

The posting includes a link to this video, purportedly showing footage from the firefight in which 6 Marines died:

2) Iraq got assigned its ".iq" domain name this month. If one reads the below article, one learns that "ICANN" -- a US entity -- assigns all such domain names internationally, which in one sense extends US control over the internet. Bizarre -- why would the Iraqi government have to beg a US entity for its own domain name, and then have to wait years for a decision?:

3) Iraq-Kuwait tensions, on the 15th anniversary of Kuwait's abortive liberation:

Iraq-Kuwait wars of... words

Last week I noted with some incredulity the return of Iraqi-Kuwaiti border disputes, asking in wonder whether I had fallen asleep and awakened in 1990. Seems the story hasn't gone away.

The AP reports today: "Iraqi legislators accused Kuwait of stealing their oil as well as chipping away at their national territory on the border -- allegations similar to those used by Saddam Hussein to justify his invasion of Kuwait that began 15 years ago Tuesday." There are arguments about Kuwaiti slant-drilling into Iraqi oil fields, arguments about Kuwaiti refusal to give up on about $16 billion in old Iraqi debt, arguments about "Iraqi encroachment" into Kuwaiti territory in the Umm Qasr area, arguments about a big metal wall that Kuwait is evidently building along the border... inside of Iraqi territory. And the other day Iraqi protestors reportedly fired gunshots across the border (the Kuwaitis didn't return fire).

Some of it might have just been for show: some of the more inflammatory statements seem to have come during a televised Parliamentary session on the 15th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Al-Quds al-Arabi reports that the Iraqi media has had a field day with some statements attributed to Kuwaiti Parliamentarians referring to the Iraqi Parliament as a "house of dogs". Al-Hayat reports that Shaykh Sabah al-Ahmad is trying to calm down angry Kuwaitis before a special meeting of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee called for tomorrow to discuss the "border issues." And Iraqi PM Ibrahim Jaafari told a press conference that he talked to Sabah al-Ahmad on the phone, and reassured all parties that "war is not a solution" - which is great, but... should Iraq's post-Saddam PM have to issue a statement reassuring Kuwait that it doesn't intend to invade it again?

I don't think that Iraq is about to invade Kuwait again.. as if it could. But the whole little episode - especially the way that the Iraqi and Kuwaiti Parliaments are egging each other on - should be a little sobering for those who think that electoral democracy alone guarantees peaceful, neighborly relations.

4) Love that quote in the middle, where there was insufficient "evidence of a crime being committed":

ADC Update:
Off Duty CBP Officer Charged with Killing Arab American

August 4, 2005, Washington, DC— On July 6, an off-duty Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer who shot to death a young Arab-American man was finally indicted under state manslaughter charges, after initially being released. A federal investigation of the incident continues.

On February 5, Officer Douglas Bates, shot and killed Bassim Schmait following an altercation outside his Los Alisos Boulevard apartment in Orange County, California. Reports on the incident vary; with the Sheriff's Department reporting that the officer apparently committed no crime when he came out of his apartment to investigate a disturbance. Bassim’s friends however, contend that Bates had pistol-whipped one of them, and that when Bassim tried to intervene, he was brutally shot and killed.

According to the Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino, the department did not initially book Bates because "There was no clear evidence of a crime being committed, so there was nothing to book him on."
Since then, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has taken an active role in raising the issue at various meetings with CPB and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) representatives, stressing the importance of a thorough investigation in building trust between government agencies and the Arab-American community.

ADC raised the matter at meetings on April 13, June 1 4, July 27. On July 27, in response to these concerns, CBP and DHS officials advised ADC that there was a California State indictment against Officer Bates for voluntary manslaughter and that the federal investigation continues.

5) Good to know the UK was doing its best for NPT and regional peace even back in the 1950's:

UK helped Israel get nuclear bomb

Britain secretly sold Israel a key ingredient for its nuclear programme in 1958, according to official documents obtained by BBC News. Papers in the British National Archives show a deal was done to export 20 tonnes of heavy water for about £1.5m. No "peaceful use only" condition was placed on its use. Officials said imposing one would be "over zealous".

Israel's acquisition of nuclear bombs has been one of the most sustained pieces of deceit in recent history. The project was guarded with such passion that in the 1980s the technician Mordechai Vanunu was kidnapped and spent 11 years in solitary confinement for blowing some of its secrets. It is remarkable then, that documents lying unnoticed in the public records office at Kew should reveal Britain's hitherto unknown role 47 years ago in deceiving the US and supplying Israel with the means to go nuclear. The main files on the subject, from the UK Atomic Energy Authority, are still classified. But BBC Newsnight producer Meirion Jones says he found a handful of key copies in a routinely declassified but obscure Foreign Office counter-proliferation archive. Apart from a passing mention of a British connection in 1998 by Israeli academic Avner Cohen, the UK's key role seems to have been completely unknown to historians. What the documents still fail to reveal, however, is how high up in the Macmillan government the decision was taken to go behind the back of President Eisenhower and load 20 tons of heavy water from Britain on to Israeli ships, thus enabling Israel to start up its Dimona reactor.,,1542033,00.html

US kept in the dark as secret nuclear deal was struck
David Leigh
Thursday August 4, 2005
The Guardian

Israel's acquisition of nuclear bombs has been one of the most sustained pieces of deceit in recent history. The project was guarded with such passion that in the 1980s the technician Mordechai Vanunu was kidnapped and spent 11 years in solitary confinement for blowing some of its secrets.It is remarkable then, that documents lying unnoticed in the public records office at Kew should reveal Britain's hitherto unknown role 47 years ago in deceiving the US and supplying Israel with the means to go nuclear.

The main files on the subject, from the UK Atomic Energy Authority, are still classified. But BBC Newsnight producer Meirion Jones says he found a handful of key copies in a routinely declassified but obscure Foreign Office counter-proliferation archive.Apart from a passing mention of a British connection in 1998 by Israeli academic Avner Cohen, the UK's key role seems to have been completely unknown to historians.

What the documents still fail to reveal, however, is how high up in the Macmillan government the decision was taken to go behind the back of President Eisenhower and load 20 tons of heavy water from Britain on to Israeli ships, thus enabling Israel to start up its Dimona reactor.

On the face of it, the decision was mere avarice. Britain's own highly secret nuclear weapons project had spent in the region of £1.5m on barrels of heavy water from Norway.

But a different technological route had been chosen for the UK in the end, using graphite as a moderator to bring about nuclear reactions. Norway refused to cancel the heavy water contract. It must have been tempting for those in charge of Whitehall budgets to be offered a chance to get their money back.

In the days of the cold war, the Official Secrets Act ensured that there was little danger of civil servants being held to account by MPs or the public for what they had done. They could scrawl without anxiety, as one did, "I would prefer not to mention this to the Americans", or "It would be somewhat over-zealous for us to insist on safeguards".

Only the US, Russia and the UK had nuclear weapons at the time, shortly to be joined in the "nuclear club" by France. The west was, officially at least, dedicated to preventing nuclear proliferation to small, unstable countries. But Israel was to be the first to break through this embargo.

In 1958, Israeli bulldozers had just started to break the ground at Dimona in the Negev desert for a top-secret French team to start constructing what France was later to claim it believed to be a small "research reactor".
France supplied Israel with a small quantity - four tons - of heavy water, but Israel needed much more if it was to to start a reactor that could manufacture weapons quantities of plutonium.

In September 1958, Israel offered, via the Norwegians, to buy 25 tons of heavy water which Britain possessed.

David Peirson, secretary of the UKAEA, wrote to Whitehall officials that he intended to sell "without restrictions". It was clear from his letter that there had already been discussions within the British government about the proposed sale.

It could be argued, he wrote, that if Britain was a party to the sale to Israel, there should be safeguards to prevent Israel using the heavy water to make bombs.

On the other hand, Britain had got the heavy water from Norway for its own military purposes: "It might be regarded as somewhat unreasonable that we should now stipulate for conditions we did not accept ourselves."
Technically, Britain would be selling back to Norway, and Norway would re-sell to Israel: "It would be primarily for [the Norwegians] to consider the issue ... It would be somewhat over-zealous of us to insist on safeguards."

At the Foreign Office, Alexander Stirling suggested: "We might make the gesture of informing the Americans ... unless there was any risk of a US firm stealing the Israeli orders."

He was rapidly overruled by Douglas Cape, first secretary at the FCO in charge of nuclear security, in terms that made it clear the fear was the US would demand too many safeguards: "I would prefer not to mention this to the Americans lest it lead them to ask us to take up what would in fact be an untenable position vis-a-vis the Norwegians."

The cover story was that the heavy water was "understood to be required by Israel for peaceful use in a reactor connected with desert irrigation".

Accordingly in June 1959, and again the following June, two lots of heavy water of 10 tons each were, according to a note by Alan Brooke-Turner, then first secretary at the FCO in charge of disarmament, "put on board Israeli ships at a UK port" and shipped out to Dimona.

But Israel never got its final five tons of the British consignment, and had to turn elsewhere. To Whitehall's discomfiture, news of Israel's activities started to leak and there was an international row.

A US spyplane, the U2, had been taking high-level photos of the activities in the Negev desert. US intelligence had become suspicious, and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Washington to question him.

In December 1960, a story was planted in the British press, via the Daily Express veteran defence correspondent Chapman Pincher, that Israel was trying to make atomic bombs.

The following March, the UKAEA told the Norwegians they thought it was unlikely Israel could have the outstanding five tons, although the deal was commercially "attractive". This was, wrote Peirson, because of "the political sensitivity of Israel's nuclear activities".

Henry Hainsworth, head of the FCO's atomic energy department, noted sternly: "We have been far from satisfied by the assurances so far furnished by the Israelis of the exclusively peaceful nature of their operations. I should be strongly opposed to letting them have a further five tons."

One of the FCO's most senior officials, Sir Hugh Stephenson, finally stamped on the idea. "I am quite sure we should not agree to this sale. The Israeli project is much too live an issue for us to get mixed up in it again."
Rehearsing the history of the earlier shipment from British ports, another official warned: "This information should not be used in response to inquiries about the heavy water."

By the time the Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, arrived in London on an official visit that June, Whitehall had arranged itself into a position of high-minded disapproval of Israeli behaviour.

The British prime minister, Harold Macmillan, wrote in a minute classified "secret": "I saw Mr Ben-Gurion this afternoon and told him of our concern about the Israeli nuclear reactor in the Negev. Mr Ben-Gurion explained that its object was to train personnel in preparation for an atomic energy programme in 10 or 15 years' time aimed at providing cheap power for taking the salt out of sea water to irrigate the Negev.
"I asked Mr Ben-Gurion whether he could not accept international inspection ... Mr Ben Gurion said he did not think he could since this would mean bringing in the Russians and Arabs."

British concern came too late. Israel is now believed to have a secret stockpile of up to 130 nuclear missiles.

6) And of course, apropos NPT:

Today's commentary:
ZNet Commentary
Media Flagstones Along a Path to War on Iran
August 06, 2005
By Norman Solomon

On Tuesday, big alarm bells went off in the national media echo chamber, and major U.S. news outlets showed that they knew the drill. Iran’s nuclear activities were pernicious, most of all, because people in high places in Washington said so.

It didn’t seem to matter much that just that morning the Washington Post reported: “A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis. The carefully hedged assessments, which represent consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements by the White House.”

By evening -- hours after the Iranian government said it would no longer suspend activities related to enriching uranium -- American news outlets were making grave pronouncements, amplifying the statements from French, British and German officials closing ranks with the Bush administration. On television in the United States, a narrow range of talking heads detoured around the USA’s profuse nuclear hypocrisies.
Yes, officials in Washington and their allies conceded, an Iranian restart of uranium enrichment activities would not violate the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But, as a Washington Post article put it Wednesday, the Iranian nuclear program was “built in secret over 18 years” and “the clandestine nature of the effort created deep suspicions in Washington and elsewhere about Iran’s intentions.”

In sharp contrast, no “suspicions” are needed about the nuclear activities of two of Iran’s bitterest enemies, Israel and Pakistan. Both have produced atomic weapons. Unlike Iran, those two U.S. allies have refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and do not submit to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

For good measure, last month the U.S. government announced plans to engage in cooperation on atomic energy projects with the Indian government, which has nuclear bombs and has not signed the NPT.
So, the nuclear moralists in Washington have no problem with Israeli, Pakistani and Indian nuclear weapons, developed and stockpiled with contemptuous disregard for the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the White House and talking heads of U.S. television are insisting that Iran has no right to do what the treaty allows it and other signers to do -- develop nuclear power, ostensibly to generate electricity.

The latest U.S. media uproar about Iran’s nuclear program is part of a dream starting to come true for neo-cons in Washington who fantasize about “regime change” in Tehran. More realistically, for the nearer term, the Bush administration is setting the agenda for a U.S. air attack on Iran.

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous,” President Bush told a news conference in late February. He added in the same breath: “and having said that, all options are on the table.” Assembled journalists laughed.

7) Peak Oil:

Published on Sunday, July 31, 2005 by Global Public Media
Where Is the Hirsch Report?
By Richard Heinberg

Over the past few months controversy has raged over the timing of Peak Oil-the moment when global oil production will reach its all-time maximum and begin its inevitable descent.

Oil optimists say the event won't occur for twenty years or more, and that market forces will result in an imperceptible transition to alternative forms of energy. "The Stone Age didn't end for lackof stones," say the optimists, "and the Petroleum Age won't end because we run out of oil"-but because we find something better and cheaper with which to fuel our society.

Pessimists point out that global oil discoveries have been plummeting for decades and that supply and demand are now closely matched (hence the run-up in oil prices over the past few months); moreover, there simply isn't an alternative energy source available that can take oil's place in the near term. They say we may be at peak now, and that the consequences will be staggering.

In short, oil pessimists spin out end-of-civilization scenarios while optimists insist that there is nothing to worry about.

Evidently the US Department of Energy is interested enough in the Peak-Oil debate to commission a report on the subject. Released in February this year by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and titled "Peaking of World Oil Production:Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management," the report examines the likely consequences of the impending global peak. It was authored principally by Robert L. Hirsch (bio:, and is as remarkable for its subsequent reception as for its content.

The report's Executive Summary begins with the following paragraph:

The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking

The report's authors were not asked to assess when the global peak is likely to occur; however they do survey the range of forecasts from optimists and pessimists alike, projecting a peak date anywhere from 2005 to 2037.

The Hirsch report examines three scenarios: one in which mitigation efforts are not undertaken until global oil production peaks; a second in which efforts commence ten years in advance of peak; and a third in which efforts begin twenty years prior to thepeak. Each scenario assumes a "crash program rate ofimplementation." In the first case, the study concludes that peak will leave the world with a "significant liquid fuels deficit formore than two decades" that "will almost certainly cause major economic upheaval"; even with a ten-year lead time for mitigation efforts government intervention will be required and the world will experience a ten-year fuel shortfall. A crash program initiated twenty years ahead of the event will offer "the possibility" of avoiding a fuel shortfall. The report emphasizes repeatedly that both supply- and demand-side mitigation options will take many years to implement and will cost "literally trillions of dollars"; it also notes that "the world has neverfaced a problem like this."

The Hirsch report concludes that substantial mitigation of the economic, social, and political impacts of Peak Oil can come only from efforts both to increase energy supplies from alternativesources and to reduce demand for oil. With regard to the claim that efficiency measures by themselves will be enough to forestall dire impacts, Hirsch et al. note that, "While greater end-use efficiency is essential, increased efficiency alone will beneither sufficient nor timely enough to solve the problem. Production of large amounts of substitute liquid fuels will be required." Further, "Mitigation will require a minimum of a decade of intense, expensive effort, because the scale of liquid fuelsmitigation is inherently extremely large." Hirsch, et al., also point out that "The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past 'energy crisis' experiencewill provide relatively little guidance."

Oil optimists often say that efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of Peak Oil undertaken too soon would entail a cost to society. The SAIC report agrees. However, it concludes that, "If peaking is imminent, failure to initiate timely mitigation couldbe extremely damaging. Prudent risk management requires the planning and implementation of mitigation well before peaking. Early mitigation will almost certainly be less expensive than delayed mitigation."

Optimists also insist that the market can take care of the problem: high oil prices will stimulate more exploration, the development of more efficient cars, and the deployment of alternative energy technologies. Interference with market mechanisms would be harmful, they say, and so the governmentshould steer clear of the problem by avoiding setting higher efficiency standards, subsidizing renewables, and so on.
The report's authors dismiss these claims. Price signals warn only of immediate scarcity; however, the mitigation efforts needed in order to prepare for the global oil production peak must be undertaken many years in advance of the event. Hirsch, et al.,maintain that, "Intervention by governments will be required, because the economic and social implications of oil peaking would otherwise be chaotic. The experiences of the 1970s and 1980s offerimportant guides as to government actions that are desirable and those that are undesirable, but the process will not be easy."

Here, then, is a significant report produced by an independent research company for the US Department of Energy, warning of a global problem of "unprecedented" proportions with economic,social, and political impacts that are likely to be extremely severe. The authors forecast "protracted economic hardship" for the United States and the rest of the world. It is a problem that deserves "immediate, serious attention."
Yet, half a year after release, discussion of the Hirsch report is conspicuously absent from the press and the halls of Congress. For months it has been archived, in PDF format, on a high school website (> ,Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, Calif.). It now can be found on a few other sites as well (including
<> and <> ) -- but why must citizens search for an important government-sponsored report on private web sites?

If the content of the Hirsch report is to be believed -- and there is every reason to think it should be -- then this is a document that deserves the close attention of every leader of government and industry in the US. Newspapers and newsmagazines should be running excerpts and summaries. Instead, there is nearly total silence. In late May Robert Hirsch presented the substance of the report at the annual Workshop of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) in Lisbon, Portugal to an audience of about 300 ( ). That event received virtually no press coverage in the US.

The Atlantic Council ( <> ) is considering publishing the Hirsch report, however there is no projected date of publication. When contacted, Dr. Hirsch replied that the document is "a public report, paid for and released by DOE NETL," and that it therefore can be reposted "at will."
Meanwhile oil is hovering around $60 and is likely to head higher, and analysts look to the fourth quarter of 2005 unsure whether supply will be able to keep up with burgeoning demand.

8) Peak Oil II:
The Twilight Era of Petroleum
By Michael T. Klare

Several recent developments -- persistently high gasoline prices, unprecedented warnings from the Secretary of Energy and the major oil companies, China's brief pursuit of the American Unocal Corporation -- suggest that we are just about to enter the Twilight Era of Petroleum, a time of chronic energy shortages and economic stagnation as well as recurring crisis and conflict. Petroleum will not exactly disappear during this period -- it will still be available at the neighborhood gas pump, for those who can afford it -- but it will not be cheap and abundant, as it has been for the past 30 years. The culture and lifestyles we associate with the heyday of the Petroleum Age -– large, gas-guzzling cars and SUVs, low-density suburban sprawl, strip malls and mega-malls, cross-country driving vacations, and so on -- will give way to more constrained patterns of living based on a tight gasoline diet. While Americans will still consume the lion's share of global petroleum stocks on a daily basis, we will have to compete far more vigorously with consumers from other countries, including China and India, for access to an ever-diminishing pool of supply.

The concept of a "twilight" of petroleum derives from what is known about the global supply and demand equation. Energy experts have long acknowledged that the global production of oil will someday reach amoment of maximum (or "peak") daily output, followed by an increasingly sharp drop in supply. But while the basic concept of peak oil has gained substantial worldwide acceptance, there is still much confusionabout its actual character. Many people who express familiarity with the concept tend to view peak oil as a sharp pinnacle, with global output rising to the summit one month and dropping sharply the next;and looking back from a hundred years hence, things might actually appear this way. But for those of us embedded in this moment of time, peak oil will be experienced as something more like a rocky plateau --an extended period of time, perhaps several decades in length, during which global oil production will remain at or near current levels but will fail to achieve the elevated output deemed necessary to satisfy future world demand. The result will be perennially high prices, intense international competition for available supplies, and periodicshortages caused by political and social unrest in the producing countries.

The Era of Easy Oil Is Over

The Twilight Era of oil, as I term it, is likely to be characterized by the growing politicization of oil policy and the recurring use of military force to gain control over valuable supplies. This is sobecause oil, alone among all major trading commodities, is viewed as a strategic material; something so vital to a nation's economicwell-being, that is, as to justify the use of force in assuring its availability. That nations are prepared to go to war over petroleum is not exactly a new phenomenon. The pursuit of foreign oil was asignificant factor in World War II and the 1991 Gulf War, to offer only two examples; but it is likely to become ever more a part of our everyday world in a period of increased competition and diminishingsupplies.

This new era will not begin with a single, clearly defined incident, but rather with a series of events suggesting
the transition from a period of relative abundance to a time of persistent scarcity. Theseevents will take both economic and political form: on the one hand, rising energy prices and contracting supplies; on the other, more diplomatic crises and military assertiveness. Recently, we have witnessed significant examples of both.
On the economic side, the most important signals have been provided by rising crude oil prices and warnings of diminished output in the future. A barrel of crude now costs just over $60 -- approximately twice the figure for this time a year ago -- and many experts believe that the price could rise much higher if the supply situation continues to deteriorate. "We've entered a new era of oil prices," said energyexpert Daniel Yergin in an April interview with Time Magazine. If markets remain as tight as they are at present, "you'll see a lot more volatility, and you could see prices spike up as high as $65 to $80."

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are even more pessimistic, suggesting that oil could reach as high as $105 a barrel in the near future. "We believe that oil markets may have entered the early stages of what wehave referred to as a ‘super-spike' period," they reported in April, with elevated prices prevailing for a "multi-year" stretch of time.

Of course, the world has experienced severe price spikes before -- most notably in 1973-74 following the October War between Egypt and Israel and the Arab oil embargo, as well as in 1979-80 following the Iranian Revolution -- but this time the high prices are likely to persist indefinitely, rather than recede as was the case in the past. This isso because new production (in such places as the Caspian Sea and off the West coast of Africa) is not coming on line fast enough or furiously enough to compensate for the decline in output from olderfields, such as those in North America and the North Sea. On top of this, it is becoming increasingly evident that stalwart producers like Russia and Saudi Arabia have depleted many of their most prolificfields and are no longer capable of boosting their total output in significant ways.

Until recently, it was considered heresy for officials of the oil industry and government bodies like the U.S. Department of Energy to acknowledge the possibility of a near-term contraction in oil supplies. But several recent events signal the breakdown of the dominant consensus:

*On July 8, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman told reporters from the Christian Science Monitor that the era of cheap and abundant petroleum may now be over. "For the first time in my lifetime," he declared, major oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia "are right at their ragged edge" in their ability to satisfy rising world demand for energy. Despite thehuge increase in international demand, Bodman noted, the world's leading producers are not capable of substantially expanding their output, and so we should expect a continuing upward trend in gasolineprices. "We are in a new situation," he asserted. "We are likely at least in the near-term to be dealing with a different pricing regime than we have seen before."

*One week later, oil giant Chevron took out a two-page spread in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other major papers to signal its awareness of the impending energy crunch. "One thing is clear," the advertisement announced, "the era of easy oil is over." This was an extraordinary admission by a major oil company. The ad wenton to say that "many of the world's oil and gas fields are maturing" and that "new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically." Equally revealing, the ad noted that the world will consume approximately one trillion barrels of oil over the next 30 years -- about as much untapped petroleum as is thought to lie in the world's known, "proven" reserves.

Oil Shockwave

These, and other recent reports from trade and industry sources, suggest that the anticipated slowdown in global petroleum output will have severe economic consequences. If prices spike at $100 a barrel, as suggested by Goldman Sachs, a global economic recession is almost unavoidable. At the same time, the slowdown in output is sure to havesignificant political and military consequences, as suggested by another set of recent events.

The most notable of these, of course, is the domestic brouhaha triggered by the $18.5 billion bid by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for U.S.-based Unocal, originally known as the Union Oil Company of California. Unocal, the owner of substantial oil and gas reserves in Asia, was originally wooed by Chevron, which offered $16.8 billion for the company earlier this year. The very fact that a Chinese firm had been prepared to outbid a powerful American firm for control of a major U.S.-based oil company is immensely significant in purely economic terms.

Since abandoned by the Chinese because of fierce American political opposition, the effort, if consummated, would have represented the largest transaction ever by a Chinese enterprise in the United States. But the bid triggered intense political debate and resistance in Washington because of CNOOC's ties to the Chinese government -- it is70% owned by the state -- and because the principal commodity involved, oil, was considered so vital to the U.S. economy and was thought to be less plentiful than once assumed. Fearing that China might gain control over valuable supplies of oil and gas that would someday be needed at home or by U.S. allies in Asia, conservative politicians sought to block CNOOC's acquisition of Unocal by recasting the matter in national security terms.

"This is a national security issue," former CIA Director R. James Woolsey testified before the House Armed Services Committee in July. "China is pursuing a national strategy of domination of the energymarkets and strategic dominance of the western Pacific" -- a strategy, he argued, that would be greatly enhanced by CNOOC's acquisition of Unocal. Seen from this perspective, CNOOC's bid was considered a threat to U.S. security interests and thus could have been barred by Congress or the President.

The notion of blocking a commercial transaction by a major foreign trading partner of the United States obviously flew in the face of the reigning economic doctrine of free trade and globalization. By invoking national security considerations, however, the President is empowered to bar the acquisition of a U.S. company in accordance with the Defense Production Act of 1950, a Cold War measure designed to prevent the flow of advanced technologies to the Soviet Union and it allies. This is precisely what was being proposed by a huge majority in the House of Representatives. On June 30, the House adopted a resolution declaring that CNOOC's takeover of Unocal could "impair the national security of the United States" and therefore should be barred by the President under terms of the 1950 law. This outlook then made its way into the omnibus energy bill adopted by Congress before its summer recess: Citing potential national security aspects of the matter, the bill imposed a mandatory 120-day federal review of the CNOOC bid -- effectively ensuring its demise.

Further evidence of a growing amalgamation between energy issues and U.S. national security policy can be found in the Pentagon's 2005 report on Chinese military power, released on July 20. While in previous years this report had focused mainly on China's purported threat to the island of Taiwan, this year's edition pays as much attention to the military implications of China's growing dependence on imported oil and natural gas. "This dependence on overseas resources and energy supplies... is playing a role in shaping China's strategy and policy," the report notes. "Such concerns factor heavily in Beijing's relations with Angola, Central Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East (including Iran), Russia, Sudan, and Venezuela... Beijing's belief that it requires such special relationships in order to assure its energy access could shape its defense strategy and force planning in the future."

The unclassified version of the Pentagon report does not state what steps Washington should take in response to these developments, but the implications are obvious: The United States must strengthen its own forces in key oil-producing regions so as to preclude any drive by China to dominate or control these areas.
Just how seriously American policymakers view these various energy-related developments is further revealed in another recent event: the first high-profile "war game" featuring an overseas oil crisis. Known as "Oil Shockwave," this extraordinary exercise was chaired by Senators Richard Lugar of Indiana and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and featured the participation of such prominent figures as former CIA Director Robert M. Gates, former Marine Corps Commandant General P. X. Kelley, and former National Economic Adviser Gene B. Sperling. According to its sponsors, the game was conducted to determine what steps the United States could take to mitigate the impact of a significant disruption in overseas production and delivery, such as might be produced by a civil war in Nigeria and a terrorist upsurge in Saudi Arabia. The answer: practically nothing. "Once oil supply disruptions occur," the participants concluded, "there is little that can be done in the short term to protect the U.S. economy from its impacts, including gasoline above $5 per gallon and a sharp decline in economic growth potentially leading into a recession."

Not surprisingly, the outcome of the exercise produced a great deal of alarm among its participants. "This simulation serves as a clear warning that even relatively small reductions in oil supply will result in tremendous national security and economic problems for the country," said Robbie Diamond of Securing America's Energy Future (SAFE), one of the event's principal sponsors. "The issue deserves immediate attention."

Entering the Era of Resource Wars

From what is known of this exercise, "Oil Shockwave" did not consider the use of military force to deal with the imagined developments. But if recent history is any indication, this is sure to be one of the actions contemplated by U.S. policymakers in the event of an actual crisis. Indeed, it is official U.S. policy -- enshrined in the "Carter Doctrine" of January 23, 1980 -- to use military force when necessary to resist any hostile effort to impede the flow of Middle Eastern oil.

This principle was first invoked by President Reagan to allow the protection of Kuwaiti oil tankers by U.S. forces during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 and by President Bush Senior to authorize the protection of Saudi Arabia by U.S. forces during the first Gulf War of 1990-91. The same basic principle underlay the military and economic "containment" of Iraq from 1991 to 2003; and, when that approach failed to achieve its intended result of "regime change," the use of military force to bring it about.

A similar reliance on force would undoubtedly be the outcome of at least one of the key imagined events in the Oil Shockwave exercise: a major terrorist upheaval in Saudi Arabia leading to the mass evacuation of foreign oil workers and the crippling of Saudi oil output. It is inconceivable that President Bush or his successor would refrain from the use of military force in such a situation, particularly given the historic presence of American troops in and around major Saudi oilfields.

In setting the stage for its simulated crisis, Oil Shockwave identified a set of conditions that provide a vivid preview of what we can expect during the Twilight Era of Petroleum:

*Global oil prices exceeding $150 per barrel*Gasoline prices of $5.00 or more per gallon*A spike in the consumer price index of more than 12%*A protracted recession*A decline of over 25% in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index*A crisis with China over Taiwan*Increased friction with Saudi Arabia over U.S. policy toward Israel

Whether or not we experience these precise conditions cannot be foreseen at this time, it is incontestable that a slowdown in the global production of petroleum will produce increasingly severe developments of this sort and, in a far tenser, more desperate world, almost certainly threaten resource wars of all sorts; nor will this be a temporary situation from which we can hope to recover quickly. It will be a semi-permanent state of affairs.
Eventually, of course, global oil production will not merely be stagnant, as during the Twilight Era, but will begin a gradual, irreversible decline, leading to the end of the Petroleum Age altogether. Just how difficult and dangerous the Twilight Era proves to be, and just how quickly it will come to an end, will depend on one key factor: How quickly we move to reduce our reliance on petroleum as a major source of our energy and begin the transition to alternative fuels. This transition cannot be avoided. It will come whether we are prepared for it or not. The only way we can avert its most painful features is by moving swiftly to lay the foundations for a post-petroleum economy.
Michael T. Klare is the Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum (Owl Books) as well as Resource Wars, The New Landscape of Global Conflict.

8) ALA Resolution:

ALA Council passes resolution on connection between Iraq War, libraries (CHICAGO) At the American Library Association (ALA) 2005 Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23-29, the ALA Council adopted a resolution on the connection between the Iraq War and libraries. ALA CD#62 states that: "many of Iraq's cultural treasures, including libraries, archives, manuscripts, and artifacts, have been destroyed, lost, or stolen" and " even a small fraction of these resources [spent on the war] would be more than sufficient for rebuilding and greatly enhancing the libraries and educational institutions of both Iraq and the U.S."
The 182-member ALA governing body voted passed ALA CD#62 on June 29, 2005. The resolution:
calls for the withdrawal from Iraq of all U.S. military forces, and the return of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq; urges the United States government to subsequently shift its budgetary priorities from the occupation of Iraq to improved support for vital domestic programs, including United States libraries; and
calls upon the United States government to provide material assistance through the United Nations for the reconstruction of Iraq, including its museums, libraries, schools, and other cultural resources.

The resolution will be sent to all members of Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the President of the United States, and the press.
To read the full document, please visit the ALA Web site at:

9) U. Chicago Conference:

Science, Vol 309, Issue 5736, 869 , 5 August 2005
News Focus
Looted Tablets Pose Scholar's Dilemma
Andrew Lawler

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--More than 300 Mesopotamian scholars gathered at the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute from 17 to 23 July. Researchers hotly debated the ethics of working with looted tablets.

[Content restricted to subscribers - if you can't get this directly, try going through your Library - or stop by your news stand]

10) US Immigrants' rights news:

Last month, IJ Weisel in New York granted an Egyptian NSERRS registrant's Motion to Terminate proceedings in a case prsented by Catholic Charities New York and the St. John's Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic. After a five-hour hearing involving direct and cross examination of the Respondent (conducted by Student Attorney Rachita Sharma) and cross examination of a DHS Special Agent, IJ Weisel concluded that the Respondent's arrest and detention had occurred in violation of DHS regulations, which implicated fundamental/constitutional rights and individual interests. Finding any evidence flowing from the Respondent's identity to be tained, IJ Weisel further suppressed DHS's proffer of "independent evidence." As there was no information to sustain the charge of removability, IJ Weisel terminated the proceedings.
DHS has filed a Notice of Appeal to the BIA.

11) Turkey should consider using this story in its next tourism ad campaign:,3604,1543733,00.html

Mother leaves £25 for abandoned daughter and moves to Turkey
Martin Wainwright
Saturday August 6, 2005
The Guardian

A bewildered teenager is staying with friends after getting home from school to find £25 rolled up in a note saying that her mother and older sister had gone to start a new life in Turkey.

Police and social services are investigating how an apparent family tiff turned into something much more drastic, to the astonishment of a small Yorkshire village where everyone knows everyone else and most of their business.

Clothes pegs are still on the washing line of Elaine Walker's rented terrace house in Redmire in Wensleydale. But the locks have been changed and Mrs Walker, an Avon cosmetics rep who supplemented her earnings with bar work and cleaning holiday cottages, has handed in her notice and told the housing association which owns her house that there will be no more rent.

Neighbours described the dramatic flit as "unexpected and appalling", saying that the daughter left behind, 15-year-old Laura Walker, was putting on a brave face but was extremely upset and hurt. Mrs Walker left abruptly two weeks ago with her other daughter, Stacey, who is 17, but other family members have only just discovered the situation after gossip led to local publicity.North Yorkshire social services and police said last night that their priority was the safety and wellbeing of Laura, who is understood not to have heard from her mother or Stacey and to have no phone number or address for them.

Derek Law, corporate director of North Yorkshire social services, said: "This teenager is the victim of a situation completely beyond her control and in the circumstances she is coping remarkably well. A number of members of her extended family have come forward to offer her both short-term and long-term accommodation. She and officers from social services are talking to those people to establish which is the most suitable accommodation to meet her current needs."

Mrs Walker, who is separated from Laura's father and has three adult children living away from home, went on a family trip last month to Antalya in Turkey, where she had a romance with a local man she called "Al." Neighbours said that there had been much joking on her return about her daydreams of starting a new life in the Mediterranean sun, especially as Stacey had apparently found a boyfriend in Antalya too.

But Melanie Hammond, 32, who used to host sleepovers for Laura and Stacey at her own home in the village, said: "You don't just leave your child behind. I don't think she could return to Redmire now. People wouldn't know what to say to her if they met her in the village."

Another neighbour, 61-year-old Edna Hunter, could not reconcile the situation with the "chatty and friendly" mother she knew. "I understand that she had met someone out there," she said. "This is a close-knit community. When my husband told me, I was in shock."

Mr Law said: "This particular situation has attracted a great deal of media attention, but it is not uncommon. We have dealt with many similar situations in North Yorkshire in the past."

North Yorkshire police said that there were no plans to send officers to Turkey, but consultations were being held with social services on Laura's safety and security and "resolving the issue in a satisfactory way".

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