Sunday, November 27, 2005

 

Iraq, Shrinking Energy Supplies and our 'unconscious guilt'

Henry Porter writes an article in the Observer today which I thought very intersting and important. His key points are as follows:

1. A US sponsored idea is just about to be announced whereby the development of Iraq's oil reserves- one third of those left in the world- will be handed over to US and British companies. The person forcing through this measure is Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi-a convicted criminal in Jordan- who fed the US State Department and Pentagon so much guff about Saddam's WMD and how the Iraqi people would garland their 'liberators' once their regime had been changed.

2. The average citizen does not realise it but we are also involved in this process and, to a degree, culpable as well. Porter argues that we are helplessly habituated to warmth, transport,plentiful food, holidays abroad, cars, comforts of every kind: the whole careless consumption of energy that is our modern way of life. We are so used to it we cannot imagine life without it. We do not realise that it is our expectation that the politicos will round up whatever energy sources there are- oil, gas, uranium- which drives the whole thing forward. Many on the left 'tremble at the idea of war while at the same time demanding as much energy as they can use.'

3. 'We were lied to about WMD because realists like Dick Cheney, Alastair Campbell and Ahmed Chalabi{ and presumably Bush and Blair too) knew that our Western public would not accept that oil was even part of the apparent mission in Iraq.'

4. Iraq has turned into an awful mess but Porter suggests the 'highest counsels in both Russia and the West regard al Quaida as a side issue in the scramble for energy'. Indeed the fear of terrorism might even prove useful to such governments.

5. He calls for the transfer of resources allocated for Trident and ID cards to energy conservation and related educational campaigns: 'these things have become a matter of conscience-of linking the use of the SUV with your stance on the war, of tying together the cheap flight to Majorca with a failure to insulate your home.

Such an analysis is quite troubling: it was our thoughtless, but unaware, demand for energy which fuelled the determination of our leaders to corner the substantial reserves of energy available in Iraq once its flaky tenant had been removed. Maybe, if we had known the truth, we would have spoken up loudly and halted an obvious grab for the oil. But maybe we would not have, or not enough of us would have. This analysis suggests a kind of 'unconscious guilt'.

Study of human nature over the centuries tells us that self interest usually wins out in politics. It is an intriguing question: if Bush had openly said: 'We need this oil to keep our Western way of life viable for the foreseeable future and we're going to take it come what may', would he have been stopped or would the self interest of voters in western democracies have kicked in and our reaction reduced to passive approval?

Comments:
Absolutely not - precisely the reason why we were fed all the scaremongery about chemical weapons was to appeal to our sense of what was right; this was the whole justification for the war. To say the campaign was in the interest of greed, charmingly honest as this may have been, would have lost any credibility for it and though it didn't have much it had to have some reason to be.
 
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