The war for commodities is central to the scramble for political hegemony and economic survival of the US as the sole world hyperpower and determinant of the world to come according to its own model, rather than face a world where this cultural, economic and political hegemony is not only challenged but eclipsed by the growing industrial and geopolitical might of Asia.
As a consumer of 25% of the world's annual oil output, and the world's largest importer of oil, the US is absolutely central to oil economics. Furthermore, given the geography and structure of the US transportation and logistics system, no country's economy is more vulnerable than the US to any serious dislocation in supplies or sustained rise in price. Hydrogen or electric powered vehicles and atomic fusion are years from becoming a commercial and technologically viable alterative to oil, despite the increasing sums spent on R & D.
Oil is only a part, albeit a big part, of the scramble for resources. Other strategic minerals are also central to this great economic power game such as: platinum, nickel, copper, cobalt, uranium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron, molybdenum, tungsten and even such rust belt metals as lead and zinc. Several vital elements the US has to import. These are: platinum, nickel, vanadium, uranium, chromium and iron and manganese. Three are vital for steel making: iron, nickel and manganese. Vanadium can be added as an also ran to this mix.
China, with a population equal to 4 times that of the US, at 1.2 billion, has a potential demand that will put immense upward pressure on the prices and demand for all commodities, to feed its unstoppable growth. India, with a population of 1 billion people, is slowly joining this race for development. SE Asian nations are already well advanced along this path with Singapore (4 million); Taiwan (22 million) and Korea (47 million) leading the way, followed by Thailand (61 million); Malaysia (20 million) and Vietnam (78 million) with the Philippines (85 million) and Indonesia (220 million) as the economic laggards. However, all these nations come within China's growing economic gravitational pull and influence, and all have significant Chinese expatriate populations, which dominate their local economies. Japan is beginning to rethink where it future lies. The post war world has significantly changed, and, with it old paradigms. The future is most assuredly China and greater Asia. The US has, to a large degree, had its day. The "War on Terror" is nothing other than a massive, albeit obviously transparent, smokescreen for the real war: "THE WAR FOR RESOURCES AND THE ECONOMIC SURVIVAL OF THE UNITED STATES AS A GLOBAL POWER". The hegemony of the United States Dollar as a global reserve currency, in which the world's commodities are traded, is fundamental to this story. Given the massive indebtedness of the US at every conceivable level, this currency is under huge potential threat, with massive Asian influence in the form of dollar surpluses held as US T bonds. If the dollar fails, so too will the United States, with all that this means. Right at the root of the US's survival strategy is control of the world's oil reserves. Without this, the dollar and the US are assuredly in serious decline. No price, however vast in terms of blood and treasure, is too high in this game of truly gigantic stakes. Because of its failure to: adapt and reduce the massive over-consumption of and dependence upon resources; develop its rail and alternative infrastructure to roads; and the lopsided structure of its car and truck driven economy, the US has quite literally no other option. Sadly, to achieve its objectives, it has lost the moral high ground and mortgaged the real meaning of Democracy, with unforeseen consequences for the world and its own citizens.
The US and Israel have inspired terrorism by 55 years of their own policies in the Middle East, rather than tackle the root causes of such dissention, which they have no intention of doing as this will go against their interests. Until Israel and its puppet states, the US and UK, are brought to book by the world community the causes of world terror will go unaddressed and continue into the distant future. However, they all know this, and care little for the consequences for ordinary people, as they invoke police state legislation and practices to tackle a problem entirely of their own creation. Besides, its role as a suitable smokescreen to enact global war could not be more fortuitous, given their long term objectives of control of the world's oil reserves and Israeli "control by proxy" of a completely neutered and divided Middle East.
The Great (Oil) Game
Oil, and energy in general, are rapidly taking centre stage in world politics and economics. Indeed, the US administration started pursuing these objectives in the 1930's under Herbert Hoover's Presidency. Hoover needed no advice in this regard as he was a well travelled consultant mining engineer. Daniel Yergin's excellent short history of oil, written in 1990, entitled "The Prize" is recommended reading. Throughout the late 19th and 20th Century's, Central Asia and latterly the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf has been centre stage to what was colloquially known as "the Great Game", between Britain and the Czar's Russia in the period 1850 to 1900, then from 1930 to the present day between the US, UK, Russia and China, with India and Pakistan now playing lesser but increasing roles.
Oil in commercial quantities was first pumped in the US State of Pennsylvania where George Bissell's little consortium, spurred by Professor Silliman's discovery that rock oil could be fractionated into a wide range of potentially very useful derivatives, financed the drilling of a 60 ft rock drill hole, managed in the field by "Colonel" Edwin Drake. Rock oil's kerosene fraction replaced sperm whale oil as a source of clean and bright illumination in lamps in homes throughout America. Demand around the world skyrocketed and oil mania was initiated. New oil fields were discovered and oversupply became a major problem with wild gyrations in oil price dependent upon the supply - demand equation and massive speculative activity. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company (SOHIO and SOCAL) rapidly, by both highly organized, intelligent and sometimes unscrupulous business practices, brought order and organisation to what had evolved as an unregulated, shambolic, economic "free for all", with rampant waste and disorder in an increasingly vital industry. However, the abundance of oil, and the development of the motor car in the US, in particular Henry Ford's Model T car, put the burgeoning, largely new immigrant, US population on wheels, and made the US both the world's largest producer and consumer of oil and oil products. As the rise in oil consumption grew exponentially, so did exploration and development. New oil fields were discovered in Oklahoma, Texas and the Gulf states. However, early production in the US was uncontrolled and primitive, worsened by the ill conceived and often idiotic claim laws then in force. Over pumping was rife, as competition between wells in very close proximity resulted in a policy of "beggar thy neighbour" and accelerate your "cone of depletion" fastest to get the most oil out for yourself. Even worse than this was the flaring off of natural gas caps to oil fields. Natural gas pressure is a vital feature in ensuring the maximization of oil recovery in any given field. In Canada's Edmonton field, a town lit by natural gas street lights that were never turned off, the recoveries were as low as 40% of total oil in the field. The remainder is to this day unexploited.
The wasteful policies and poor technology of a juvenile industry, combined with the rapid development of the US economy as the world's largest by the mid 1930's, meant that the US's best oil fields were not exploited in the optimum manner to maximize production. The majority of these fields were over-pumped and ruined. By the end of WW2, during which the US had to open the oil spigot to the maximum to support the war effort in the US and UK, US oil fields were in steady decline having passed "Hubbert's Peak". The realization came home to Harry S Truman and Winston Churchill that the new oil "centre of gravity" was the Middle East. Control of Middle Eastern oil became vital to the global strategies of both nations, in the cold war era, as it was pivotal to the survival of their economies, political influence and the survival of the "free world".
Relationships with Arab nations in the post WW1 era were by and large good. However, in 1948 the state of Israel was created, without any effort to establish a similar state for the Palestinian people, who were disenfranchised by the policies of the UK and US. Since then, US relationships with Arab states have been increasingly determined by the immensely, and increasingly powerful, Zionist lobby in the US, and the security mania of Israel, to the point at which Arab states today regard the US with extreme distrust, and as an Israeli puppet state by proxy, which is a statement of truth, whether one likes it or not. The House of Saud is hopelessly corrupt and politically weak. The Saudi Royal Family is entirely a US puppet government sustained until the oil runs out. After that, they will be thrown to the wolves and the country will most likely fragment. The vast discrepancy between rich and poor, combined with a bell shaped population profile, Wahibi Muslim extreme religious conservatism, and high unemployment mean that Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly unstable, and potentially politically volatile. Saudi Arabia has played the role of "swing producer" on the world's oil markets maintaining largely stable prices for nearly 45 years. Any sudden disturbance to this delicate balance could result in a panic situation in an increasingly nervous market place.
The distribution of the world's oil fields, both in terms of their relative size and geography, is significant. Oil fields are categorized into, at the top level: supergiant fields such as Saudi Arabia's Gawar and Majid e Sulieman field's or Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo field. These are fields with reserves of more than 500 billion barrels of oil. All these fields were discovered before WW2, and have been under accelerating and high sustained production, ever since. Historically, there have been a mere 7 such field's, 6 of which lie in the Middle East: two are in Saudi Arabia; one is shared between Kuwait and Iraq; two are in Iraq at Kirkuk and Mosul; and one is in Iran. With control of the Saudi oil fields through Saudi ARAMCO (although now Saudi controlled, American influence is still major) and the House of Saud (Royal Family of + 8,000 members), and now Kuwait, which is a client state of the UK and US, control of Iraq (US and UK) and forthcoming "regime change" in Iran, the US - UK - Israeli triumvirates objective becomes patently obvious; namely control of 6 out of 7 of the world's supergiant oil fields. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is a major CIA target for "regime change", the objective being to secure the world's last uncontrolled oil field outside the Middle East. One could arguably add Alaska's North Slope field to the category of being the 8th supergiant field, this obviously being under US control.
As a teenager, I remember experts on BBC TV warning of the coming oil crisis in the late 1960's. However, these fears seemed misplaced as the impending crisis never eventuated. However, it is now apparent that the dire forecasts of some 40 years ago are finally upon us. The rapid and remarkable growth of China and SE Asia from peasant rural economies to industrial and information based economies, is at last exerting a massive demand pull on the world's commodities, and shipping fleets. The USA, having failed to implement any form of energy and resource conservation, is a consumption junkie of "King Kong" proportions. Far from heeding calls for conservation, the populace are hooked on the latest gas guzzling SUV's rather than fuel economic compacts. However, the change, when it occurs, will be like a liquid helium shower for the US citizenry. The sad fact is that all the world's major oil fields are at their peaks of production, or are already over Hubbard's famous peak for each field. Examples documented in the technical literature, include Saudi Arabia's giant 200 km long Gawar field and Venezuela's Maraciabo field. At the former, formation water brines are migrating into the reservoir which is a clear signal that productive capacity is in serious decline.
This means that, in a world of burgeoning demand, with China and India demanding ever more to feed their growing economies, and the US and Europe not cutting back on consumption, the much vaunted supply crisis, predicted all those years ago, has at last arrived. Furthermore, no supergiant fields have been discovered since Alaska in the 1970's. Moderate sized fields are being brought on stream at a rate far below depletion of world reserves. The great hope for future supplies lies in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and, dare one say it, Antarctica. Tar sands and oil shales contain vast petroleum reserves, notably in Venezuela's Orinoco river basin and Athabasca, Canada, amounting to some 500 times the current global resources of oil, are another major option, however, to be developed and commercially extracted they need a high sustained oil price of over US$ 100 to 120 per barrel. Such prices would cripple the global economy.
Oil resource poor Europe plays the role of passive compliance, not wishing to do its own dirty work in the Middle East, and quite happy for the US and UK to be its stooge, and stay out of the limelight and its negative impact. Instead, Europe is quietly and rapidly moving to oil and metal resource rich Russia and the former CIS Republics such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The Caspian and Northern Himalayas has moved centre stage in the search for major new oil resources.
Lesser fields, but nonetheless significant, comprising cluster fields in the 100 to 500 billion barrel range are those in the offshore Niger delta, in unstable and volatile Nigeria; the Congo, offshore Gabon, and offshore Angola. Libya's fields in the Sahara have largely lain moribund, in terms of modern development, under the control of the famous and politically unstable and capricious Colonel. However, moderation, and some no doubt hidden agenda, has caused him to woo the international community, and to open up to foreign investment, into which France, Italy, Germany and the UK have fallen over each other in the scramble.
The Significant Other Factors
A further factor underpinning the US's internal and global policies, has been the increasing awareness of several very dangerous economic developments for which it only has itself to blame. These largely centre on poor US economic planning over the last 50 years, and the greatest expansion of credit the world has ever seen. Unless the US becomes a dictatorship, which is possible, this writer expects to see the US suddenly remember one of its greater Presidents: Mr. Andrew Jackson, who acted in the public interest and abolished the central bank, putting America firmly back on the gold standard. When the denouement of the epic debt bubble of Mr. Alan Greenspan finally bursts, the US public will have a very rude awakening, and the Federal Reserve Bank will be abolished by a furious public once and for all. The name Federal Reserve Bank could not be more misleading. It is not Federal. It is not a Reserve Bank. It was established following a meeting of John Pierpont Morgan, Vanderbilt and Nelson Aldrich on Jekyll Island in 1913 with the joint connivance of Woodrow Wilson's "advisor" (controller) Colonel House. The bank has a Board of Governors appointed by its principal shareholders, who are plutocratic merchant bankers, but now includes the Rothschild's, Citibank (Rockefeller is also head of the Council on Foreign Relations - CFR - whose staff are present and dominate all US administrations; e.g. Henry Kissinger), Bank of America and Salomon Brothers, etc. This is a giant private bank, which not only issues all money in the US, but underpins currency used for all international settlements and trading all commodities; i.e., the US dollar. Notably, the Fed also handles all US Tax receipts - corporate, government and private.
The boom and bust economic cycle is a function of how this institution exercises its policies. Until 1982, the Fed exerted a modicum of control, keeping money supply and credit issuance within some degree of reason. However, under the Carter and then Reagan administrations debt took off at a sprint to fund, amongst other things, Reagan's huge increase in the defence budget. Paul Volcker, then Chairman of the Fed, put the brakes on by raising interest rates in a clear signal to markets that enough was enough. However, under the kindly and very accommodating Mr. Greenspan, the rate of debt issuance has moved into overdrive, pumping up the stock market bubble of all time, and the largest technical "head and shoulders" formation ever seen, by an entire order of magnitude. This let the floodgates open to mergers and acquisitions mania near the bubble top in 1997 to 2000 when corporate piracy and malpractice were on an unprecedented scale. Valuations of stocks lost all common sense financial reason. ENRON and WORLDCOM - MCI were but the tip of a huge iceberg of corporate crime which was rapidly covered up by the nervous markets hiding their immense basket of dirty linen. Heaven forbid the public should find out that corporate crime was systemic in the upper echelons of US society. The most bizarre market was the NASDAQ where PE's for many stocks such as Amazon.com and Ebay.com were at mathematical infinity, the perfect example of Greenspan's "irrational exuberance" quote. When the bubble burst in 2000 to 2001, the kindly Greenspan dropped interest rates like a stone channelling the world's trillions into Real Estate and commodities markets and providing the basis to generate equity bubble's son, baby bubble which we are now about to see come apart. This was great because the ever accommodative money lenders concocted new derivatives variants, hedge funds "with whistles, bells and dancing gals", mortgage schemes that would turn any old style banker white as a ghost. In the world of junk finance, junk food, junk beverages, junk rap music, where junk status stocks are OK, we now had junk mortgages. Junk, Junk, Junk, Junk and more Junk, in the land where accountability and financial prudence no longer exists. Clearly, the Government of the US is so corrupt and venal that no one cares a damn any more. Certainly protecting the rights and assets of one's citizens is an idea that died with the Founding Fathers.
The entire post 2001 stock, bond market and real estate market boom has been funded by an even greater expansion of FIAT credit that is mind boggling in its audacity. This time Greenspan has really gone to town. Not satisfied with his humungous equity bubble, he's gone one better to create the bond market (the carry trade gravy train) and real estate bubble of all time. People trading properties have hit the bonanza gold seam. Whilst real incomes have remained largely static, amidst this vast asset inflation, everyone who "owns" Mc Mansion ATM machine has the ability to generate cash out of space to keep on spending and piling up more debt. All this is of course funded by the Fed's vast issuance of T Bonds, largely to Japan and China. This happy little virtuous circle, where we buy your goods and you buy our junk paper and take profits on the carry trade is just fine and dandy so long as the spreads offset the massive currency losses in US denominated paper. However, whereas the spreads between the short and long duration bonds was 250 basis points, it has now narrowed to 50 to 70 basis points. If the happy little symbiotic relationship in the markets suddenly unwinds, as seems likely, and the Mc Mansion funded US consumer runs out of Mc Mansion funds to keep the tills ringing, what then?
Just what is going to underpin the United States Dollar when all else fails, a rapid rise in rates is not really palatable given the horrendous consequences of rates at say 6% to 7 %, or more, needed to support the dollar, so what else is there…………………OIL?????. Or, is the US just going to go broke and declare all debts owed by it as defunct? Except of course the banks will want your properties or other assets back if you can't repay the loans.