by Dale Allen Pfeiffer
FTW, December 18, 2001 — The past year has seen events unprecedented in the history of this country, from the installment of George W. Bush as president due to an extremely controversial 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court to the horrific terrorist attacks of 9-11. These events seem unreal and beyond comprehension. Many people have been left wondering why the presidential coup and why the terrorist attacks.
Many people have assumed that the last presidential election simply resulted in a political squabble due to the close vote. A few have opined that this squabble resulted in a power grab by one segment of the elite in this country. As for the events of 9-11, the established line is that this was due to evil people who hate freedom and democracy. However, many people have sought to explain that these terrorists were bred by decades of imperialist intervention undertaken by this country in order to keep secure the privileged position of US corporations and the US public in general. There are a small few who have wondered whether the events of 9-11 were the work of Islamic terrorists at all, just as there are a few who believe that the Bush regime staged a coup in every sense of the word. The wisest and best informed say all of this is about oil.
To understand the events of the past year, it is first necessary to set the scene. And the scene in which all of these events have played out is the approaching end of the oil age. This background has not been talked about in the mass media, or even in the alternative media. However, this knowledge is essential in order to understand not only what has transpired in the past year, but also the events to come. And we need this knowledge in order to consider what actions we should take to assure a positive future for all.
The civilization we live in today is based entirely on hydrocarbons (by which term I mean both oil and natural gas). The energy which runs our technology is derived from hydrocarbons. The energy which does our work is derived from hydrocarbons. The energy which powers our homes, our transportation and which generates our electricity is all largely derived from hydrocarbons. All of the plastics which surround us with consumer goods are derived from hydrocarbons. Our produce is fed with hydrocarbon-based fertilizers and sprayed with hydrocarbon-based pesticides. Every person in the US has the energy equivalent of a dozen slaves working for him or her.
Why this dependency on oil? Simply put, there is no other energy source which holds as much energy per unit. The only exception to this is uranium, which is dangerous, difficult to work with, and far too rare an element to ever provide for more than a small percentage of our energy needs. 1 Even the highest grade of coal only holds about 50% as much energy as an equivalent quantity of hydrocarbons. 2 Renewable energy resources can provide nowhere near enough energy to meet our current needs.3 Fusion remains, as ever, just beyond our grasp. The highly touted hydrogen fuel cells are not an energy source but a form of energy storage; the energy contained in the fuel cell must be generated from another source. 4
In short, there is no other source which can provide for the energy needs of our present civilization.
Hydrocarbons are considered a nonrenewable resource. Many millions of years ago, atmospheric carbon was absorbed by ocean waters and ultimately processed into living matter. Millions of years ago the oceans abounded in microorganisms. Life forms similar to plankton were far more abundant than they are even at the present time. As these organisms died their bodies settled on the ocean floor, forming an organic ooze. It is interesting to note that the planet was incapable of supporting terrestrial life until much of the carbon had been leeched from the atmosphere. Atmospheric carbon is a poison which had to be locked into sediment by ocean life before land-dwelling life forms could evolve.
Once this organic ooze was deposited, it had to be buried in sediment and subjected to just the right combination of conditions in order to transform it into energy rich hydrocarbons. The combination of pressure, heat and time is very precise. Too much pressure will transform the carbon to graphite. Too much heat will overcook it.
Finally, once the ooze has been transformed into hydrocarbons, they will migrate through the Earth's crust until captured by the "trap." A trap is a non-permeable geological formation which holds the hydrocarbons and prevents them from escaping. Without a trap, the hydrocarbons will migrate to the Earth's surface and dissipate into the atmosphere.
All of the conditions for hydrocarbon generation have only been met once in the history of the Earth. It is arguable that the process of transforming atmospheric carbon into hydrocarbon deposits itself altered atmospheric, oceanic and earth chemistry, as well as the biosphere, in such a way that the process will never be repeated, it would take millions of years for hydrocarbon deposits to be replenished.
And so hydrocarbons are a nonrenewable resource which we are using up at an alarming rate.
The production of oil from any given field follows a bell curve. After discovery of the field, production increases as more and more wells are opened. A team of exploration geologists and engineers will quickly map out the field and develop a pattern of well placement so as to maximize production. Each well has a cone of production which, when well placed, will cover the entire field. If placed too closely, the cones of production will overlap and the overlapping wells will each wind up producing less. So, to increase production by drilling more wells only works until the field is covered, beyond which point adding more wells only leads to diminishing returns.
Because of this, there is a point where the production of any particular field is maximized. This is the peak of the production curve. The peak can be narrow or broad, short or long in duration, but production will never be increased beyond this point.
In the earth, oil moves at a very slow rate. The classic gusher effect is due to the fact that oil at depth is held under pressure. When a hole is drilled, the oil in the area immediately around the hole is ejected by this pressure. Once this oil has been pumped, the well must draw oil from farther away. Under its own impetus, oil travels at a very slow rate, the same rate as damp spreading through a stone foundation. Once a well has pumped all of the oil in its immediate vicinity, the rate of production must drop. We have techniques for boosting the draw of a well, such as pumping in water under pressure at other sites to drive oil to the well. But production will inevitably decrease.
This is the downward side of the production curve. On this downward slope more and more energy is required to pump oil from a field, until a point is reached where it takes as much or more energy to pump the oil than can be extracted from the oil. At this point the wells are closed and the field ceases production, forever.
This is the trend for every oil field ever discovered: increasing production, peak production, and declining production. Even fields as immense as those in Saudi Arabia follow this pattern.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. King Hubbert managed to combine production from several different wells to develop production profiles for regions, nations, and even the entire planet. These regional oil production plots also have the form of a bell curve, known now as the Hubbert curve. Such curves can be used to predict peak production and decline, both nationally and globally. Using this technique, Dr. Hubbert was able to surmise that US oil production would peak in the early 1970s and then fall into decline. Dr. Hubbert was ridiculed by other scientists who relied on differing, erroneous methodologies. 5
US oil production did peak in the early 1970s. To meet its rising energy needs after this point the US became increasingly dependent on foreign oil. This paved the way for the Arab oil embargo. By the end of the decade, US oil production had begun to decrease irreversibly. Whatever anyone tries to say to the contrary, our dependence on foreign oil is permanent and increasing all the time. Dr. Hubbert was vindicated, and his is now the standard methodology for projecting oil production.
Global production curves have also been in existence since the 1960s. They have been refined as data on oil resources is revised; yet the timing and length of the peak have varied little through the years. Global oil production peaked sometime in this past year and will begin to decline within another five years. Production will peak at a maximum of 90 million barrels per day; however, demand stands at 75 million barrels per day currently and will rise by 2.5 % per year to 100 million barrels per day by 2010. 6
This is the composite global picture. To better understand what is happening, we have to compare various oil producing regions. In doing this we see that, except for the Middle East and the Caspian Sea Basin, the rest of the world has already peaked, and most oil producing regions are now in decline. The Middle East and Caspian Sea regions are not expected to peak for at least several years to come. With the passage of time, all countries will vie with each other for the oil of these regions, vying for the survival of their civilization. And whoever controls the oil production of the Middle East and Caspian Sea regions will control the world. 7
More could be said about natural gas, which is also expected to decline in production in the next decade.8 , 9 Likewise, the coal resources within the US will be exhausted in another fifty years at most.10 And coal alone will never meet our current, much less projected, energy demand. Nor can salvation be expected from the Athabaskan (Alaskan) oil sands, which require a major energy investment to harvest and process. 11
Against This Backdrop
Now that we have this background in place, let's reflect on the events of the past year.
The 2000 presidential election has been referred to as a coup, and there is good reason for this. Never mind the widespread corruption and voter fraud. Never mind the disenfranchisement of black voters and the outright destruction of untallied ballots in minority voting precincts. Never mind the manipulations of James Baker, Governor Jeb Bush and various other Florida officials. The Supreme Court decision was itself unheard of, and probably unconstitutional. The self-described job of the Supreme Court is to decide questions of constitutional law and set precedents. Yet in this one case and no other in the history of the US the Supreme Court stated that it was rendering a special decision which cannot be used as a precedent in any other case.12
So we have a president put into office by a 5 to 4 vote of the Supreme Court, in direct opposition to the popular vote. What about the background of this president and his cabinet? The Bush cabinet is a virtual who's who of oil, defense and pharmaceutical bigwigs. 13 The Bush family is itself closely tied financially to the bin Ladens.14 , 15 Both families are involved in the Carlyle Group. 16 Bush Sr. sits on the board of Carlyle, a 12 billion Equity company with oil holdings and defense contracts. 17 Dick Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton Oil. Colin Powell is a major stockholder in several defense contractors. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice sat on the board of Chevron. Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff is from General Motors. Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, was CEO of Searle Pharmaceuticals. Dick Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, has ties to the Russian mafia and is a board member of Carlyle. Robert Jordan, the Saudi ambassador, was a member of Baker Botts, a legal firm specializing in oil and defense (the Baker in Baker Botts is James Baker). Tony Principi, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, comes from Lockheed Martin. Gordan England, Secretary of the Navy, is tied to General Dynamics. James Roche, Secretary of the Air Force, is from Northrop Grumman. Gen. Thomas White, retired, Secretary of the Army, is from Enron Energy. Donald Evans, the Commerce Secretary, owns Colorado Oil Company. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice sat on the board of Exxon. And Mr. Carlucci, the Chief of Carlyle, sits on the Middle East Policy Council. 18
One of the first acts of the Bush administration was to declare an energy crisis and delineate a controversial set of measures for solving this problem. On the surface, the Bush energy package called for increased domestic production. This is the favored solution of certain mainstream, free-market economists, who believe that increased production is the answer to current energy woes while research and development of new technology will take care of the future. Most mainstream economists refuse to realize that hydrocarbons are the underpinning of our technological civilization, instead of just another commodity. And, of course, increasing production has great appeal to businesspeople whose prime concern is maximizing short-term profit.
Under the surface, however, the Bush energy package is a give away for the oil industry, and a strengthening of US commitment to support corporate oil interests. The energy package sought to give away drilling rights in the Alaskan National Wildlife Arctic Reserve (ANWAR) and other remaining wilderness areas, open up our continental shelves to full exploitation, role back environmental and health regulations, and subsidize the oil industry with major tax breaks. One controversial measure which received very little attention was an item allowing energy corporations to extract resources from public land without paying for the right to do so. The Bush energy plan was a giveaway for energy corporations. It met with stiff opposition in congress and certain prized measures such as drilling in ANWAR were defeated. Related to the energy package was President Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, which action was reviled around the world.
In his first months in office, Bush managed to alienate almost every country on the planet in one arrogant move after another. When asked what he would do should Canada seek to limit natural gas flow to the United States, Bush said he would do whatever was necessary to protect our right to Canada's natural gas. Likewise, at home, he was highly reviled by many US citizens. There was even some talk of impeachment. All of this changed after 9-11, and it is to be wondered how the Bush administration would have survived without the terrorist attacks.
It is now early summer of 2001, and the Bush administration informs Pakistan and India that it will launch a military mission against Afghanistan before the end of October.19 , 20 This is the same Afghanistan to which the US gave 43 million dollars just a couple months before to aid them in destroying their poppy crops; that on top of 132 million given to the Taliban in the previous year. 21 , 22 At the time Secretary of State Colin Powell informs Pakistan and India of US intentions there is no animosity between the US government and the Taliban, despite the fact that the Taliban is openly harboring wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden.
In July, while seeking treatment for a kidney infection at an American hospital in Dubai, Osama bin Laden is visited by a CIA operative who later brags about the meeting.23 Shortly after this meeting came to light in late October, the CIA issued a statement insisting that it has never had contact with Osama bin Laden. Yet it is very well known that the CIA originally trained and supported bin Laden during the Taliban's fight against Soviet invasion. 24 , 25 , 26
After 9-11 there has been a great deal of investigation to see who profited from the attack on the World Trade Center. Investigators have turned up a list of financial institutions in the US which profited from short-selling and put options on the WTC, airline companies and the companies housed in the WTC. Short selling and put options indicate prior knowledge that an asset is about to lose its value. The list of brokers handling the insider trading connected to 911 includes A.B. Brown, an investment bank. "Buzzy" Krongard, the current Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency is the former Chairman of the investment bank A.B. Brown.27 , 28
In the months prior to the terrorist attacks, there were many warning passed around various levels of the government and elsewhere. David Schippers the Republican lawyer who pressed impeachment against President Clinton, claims he spent months before 9/11 trying to get information to Attorney General Ashcroft from FBI agents who claim they were told not to investigate leads that suggested a terrorist attack on Manhattan was imminent. 29 The New York Daily News stated that some Middle-Easterners in New York were forewarned of the attacks.30 Bin Laden had warned a few months previously that he and his followers would undertake an unprecedented attack on US interests. 31 Finally, on Friday, Sept 7, the State Dept issued a worldwide terrorist alert to Americans abroad.32 It is hard to believe that no one in the US intelligence community had knowledge of the pending attacks.
Between 7:45 and 8:10 EST, the morning of September 11th, four US passenger jets were hijacked simultaneously. This was an event unprecedented in US history and should have set off all sorts of alarms by itself. Nothing was done. The FAA had all four planes on radar the whole time. 35 minutes later, American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center. The air force was not scrambled. President Bush was not even informed. After another 18 minutes, United Airlines flight 175 struck the second tower of the WTC. Bush is briefly informed of these events as he attends a 2nd grade class in Florida. Instead of taking emergency actions, Bush continues with his lessons. Another excruciating 37 minutes pass during which nothing is done. Radar tracks American Airlines flight 77 as it flies by Washington D.C., makes a tight spiraling descent, descending 7,000 feet in 2.5 minutes, and levels off to fly straight into the Pentagon at 640 knots, clipping power lines along the way.
Some time later, United Airlines flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania. Witnesses report debris falling from the plane many miles before it hit ground. There has been a lot of speculation about the intended target of this 4th plane. Some say the target was Camp David, some the White House. It has also been speculated that this craft sought a midair collision with Air Force One. We will probably never know its intended target. However, it is interesting to consider if the target of flight 93 had actually been the Capitol Building. Had this jet struck congress, President Bush might have temporarily assumed the powers of congress.
After 9-11, President Bush's approval rating rose to 80%. A wave of patriotic hysteria has washed over the entire country, giving Bush the mandate he so desperately desired. Instead of seeking out the perpetrators and bringing them to justice through legal channels, Bush declared war on all terrorists and on any country which harbors or supports terrorists. This is to be a very long and open-ended war, without specific goals against which its success and eventual resolution can be measured. Operation '"Infinite Justice" as it was originally called. The US public must prepare themselves to suffer and sacrifice while the war itself will be fought largely in secret.
President Bush quickly established a new cabinet level Office of Homeland Security, to be headed by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. This office is to stand over and coordinate among all existing domestic police on national, state and local levels. And it is to be given its own special security forces with practically unlimited powers. Among their duties will be monitoring interstate travel at checkpoints and policing protests. Security forces will reserve the right to kill anyone who resists them. Bush and Ridge are pushing for national ID cards, and it is rumored that checkpoints will be equipped with face recognition technology. 33
In congress, unpopular legislation which had previously limped along was rammed through with patriotic fervor. Lobbyists lined up in a feeding frenzy. Where only a month before budget surpluses had dried up and congress people were arguing for defense cuts, now practically the entire budget was given over to defense spending. And finally, congress passed a new anti-terrorism act which granted police and the military vast new powers, ended habeas corpus and the posse comitatus act, and severely hamstrung the Bill of Rights. 34 , 35
All the while, the public is being kept in a state of alert with threats of anthrax exposure and other vague terrorist alarms. The anthrax attacks are themselves extremely peculiar. The Bush administration wants to point the blame at Iraq, while the FBI and other investigators believe them to be the work of homegrown, probably rightwing, terrorists. Yet all the leads seem to evaporate into thin air. The main targets, media and Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, make little sense if the perpetrators are Islamic extremists. Those who would benefit the most from these attacks are President Bush and his administration, as the attacks only serve to scare the media and his political opposition further into his protective arms. Finally there is the ineffective nature of the attacks; for the most part, the exposures are easily treated with antibiotics. It would be easier and more effective to use letter bombs. That is, unless your goal was to instill fear in the media, the political opposition and the general public without massive casualties.
Lastly, the assault on Afghanistan began just as planned. And the US now has the excuse to attack any other nation it pleases. All that is required is to first label them as terrorists.
Just what was the planned purpose of the assault on Afghanistan? You could say it was a pipe dream. US oil interests have their eye on large untapped hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian Sea region. Just as the Bosnian conflict was part of an effort to secure the Balkan states for an oil and gas pipeline to the European energy market, so the US is seeking secure passage for a pipeline through Afghanistan to feed the Asian energy markets and the US itself.36 , 37
Beyond this, the War on Terrorism, gives the US a perfect excuse to seize control of major oil deposits in other countries such as Iran and Colombia. Likewise, it legitimates a police state within the US so that the elite can prepare for the day when the common people of this country are impoverished and starving due to the collapse of oil-based civilization. The Elite will maintain their own comfort and their average of twelve energy slaves per person.
Here then, is the scenario. Wary of the peak and approaching decline of hydrocarbon production, the oil and defense elite in this country back a political coup to put their people in the White House. However, this oil administration can do very little toward achieving their ends because of unpopularity at home and abroad. In growing desperation, this regime provokes and permits, if not outright planning the enterprise on its own, a massive terrorist attack against the US homeland, striking at the very symbols of globalization and US imperialist military might. Perhaps failing in an attempt to attack congress which would then give the president the opportunity to "temporarily" suspend the constitution and assume sole power. This terrorist act negates all opposition to the regime and gives them the authority to do whatever they wish internationally and domestically to protect the interests and the positions of the oil elite.
This scenario may seem farfetched but no other theory can explain as adequately all the events of the past year, given the facts that are known and the background of the approaching end of the oil age. [It is easy to imagine a group of plotters working late in the night as the cause of events in need of greater explication: it is an approach commensurate with those who implicitly perceive individuals as isolated rational beings each pursuing their self-interest —there must be a causal chain which sums up as the advantage gained. Often though, the System itself aligns forces in a specific direction, as well as aligning forces against that direction, and the consequences, while not definable as a conspiracy, can be indistiguishable therefrom. We confront above all else the System, even if there was conspiracy.]
Even if you don't believe the events of the past year were intentional, that does not change the picture of the future before us. We stand at the dusk of oil-based civilization, and the US is preparing for the approaching night by extending its military might throughout the world and instituting a police state at home.
Ending on a Positive Note
Global oil is peaking; in five years we will no longer be able to produce enough oil to meet the needs of our oil civilization. The oil elite wants to grab the remaining supplies and dictate their use. Likewise, the people of this country, who will soon be faced by starvation and extreme impoverishment, can be held in check through the establishment of a police state.
All the while, people are being diverted from seeing that we have just enough energy resources left that we could build a true ectopian democracy where all of us could lead freer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. We need bottom up democracy. We need small-scale economies, and small-scale technologies powered by renewable energy. We need smaller communities, structured to be self-sufficient, all tied together by high speed monorails. We need gardens and parks in our cities instead of cars. We need social halls, not shopping malls. And we have enough energy remaining to do this, if we act now.
The oil elites, however, want to use our remaining energy resources to establish a security state where they can enjoy the remaining riches while the rest of us suffer, starve and slave for them.
Yet they are not the ones pulling the triggers and enforcing the rules. We are. And that's what they fear most. So tell me, what do you think we should let happen now?
FTW, January 29, 2002 — If it is true that an oil coup has taken control in this country and is seeking to consolidate its power throughout the world, based on the fact that world oil and natural gas production are set to go into decline, then what does this hold for the future? Using this as our hypothesis, we should be able to predict future military actions by comparing production profiles for various oil producing countries with the political climate within these same countries. For this purpose, we are using production profiles developed by Richard C. Duncan and Walter Youngquist through the use of their World Oil Forecasting Program in 1998.1 The data has changed very little since that time, except for a slight upgrade in projected Caspian Sea oil reserves and a slightly higher than projected oil demand. In addition to oil production there are also other factors which need to be taken into account, such as other resource deposits, demand, and population. Not all of these factors are as well documented as oil production, and so we will use this as our focal point, adding in other information where available.
Finally, we have to wonder not only about the motives of this supposed oil coup, but we also need to speculate on whether the perpetrators fully understand the implications of energy depletion. In other words, will they be able to hold on to their power in the face of the breakdown of civilization? And what might they do if they thought they were losing control?
First let us look at the situation in North America, as reported by Duncan and Youngquist.
North American Oil Production
The United States was the first country to peak in its oil production, back in 1970. The United States exploited its oil to provide the standard of living enjoyed today. However, after 1970 the continuation of this standard of living has depended upon increasing imports of oil. Notice the slight raising and leveling off of the production curve in the early 1980s as oil from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska was brought on line. The Prudhoe Bay fields peaked in 1985 and have been in decline since. At one time, the USA had abundant, easily exploited oil reserves — production peaked at over 4 billions barrels per day — but those days are behind us now. Even the Alaska National Wildlife Arctic Reserves (ANWAR) will make little difference to this picture.
Not long after the United States peak, resources in Mexico and Canada came on line, providing some salvation in the regional picture. However, the resources of both countries taken at their peaks do not equal the peak production of the United States. Mexico peaked a year ago, while Canada is not expected to peak for another 10 years.
In the overall regional picture, you can see the United States peak in 1970, followed by a short decline and then a recovery. As a region, North America peaked in 1985. After a slight secondary peak taking place right now, North American oil production is expected to plummet. The only untapped reserves left in this region are in ANWAR, and their affect would be negligible on this graph. Tar sands and shale deposits in Canada may contain the equivalent of more than 150 billion barrels of oil which could theoretically become economical to produce once conventional deposits are in decline. However, it is unlikely that production can be brought on line quickly enough to offset the shock of conventional oil depletion.2 Beyond this, there are grave environmental problems associated with the exploitation of these deposits. Namely, the tar sands and oil shales can only be harvested through massive strip mining. And, once the oil has been extracted, there will be literally thousands of tons of sand and shale slag to be dealt with, not to mention other more harmful wastes.
Where are We to Turn?
Contrary to what you might think, the United States does not receive the bulk of its oil imports from the Middle East. Thus far, our oil imports have come from South and Central America, chiefly Venezuela and Colombia. Venezuela alone accounts for more than 53% of the oil in this region.3 However, Venezuelan oil production already appears to be peaking a little sooner than Duncan and Youngquist’s program predicted.
Venezuela also holds what is perhaps the world’s greatest deposit of unconventional oil: the Orinoco oil belt, which contains an estimated 1.2 trillion barrels of the sludge known as heavy oil. This is a great resource; however, it is known as heavy sludge because it is highly contaminated by sulfur and heavy metals. The removal and disposal of these elements would have to be attained without destroying the economic viability of the deposits. And, as with the Canadian oil sands, such a project is unlikely to be brought on line in time to offset the shock of declining oil production.
Colombia’s oil deposits are predicted to peak around 2010. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to produce more than one third of a billion barrels per day at peak. There is currently a lot of speculation about a major oil strike in the southeastern foothills of Colombia's Andes. Geologists in the area have made some interesting discoveries, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. It has long been suspected that a major field must exist somewhere between the Venezuelan oil fields and the oil shales of the Peruvian Andes. Yet, with all our modern probing, this field has failed to turn up. This author suspects that exploration in Colombia will turn up no new, major oil fields — though it may turn up minor deposits. This author suspects that the mother lode of South American hydrocarbon deposits has already been found, in the form of the Orinoco heavy oil sludge.
In any case, it is quite plain the United States needs the oil of this region. And production of these oil resources is threatened by political instabilities. Colombia is a divided country rocked by over 50 years of civil war. And Venezuela has also become increasingly unstable in just the past year. President Hugo Chavez has been bucking US imperialism and oil interests for some time now. A new Hydrocarbons Law, which took effect at the beginning of 2002, will require that state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA hold a minimum 51% stake in future joint ventures involving exploration and exploitation. And the law will impose the world’s highest royalty rates on companies operating in Venezuela's oil fields. President Chavez insists that such a move is necessary to rescue the Venezuelan economy and to help ease poverty in the country. Similar moves toward nationalization in the past led to US backed coups in Guatemala and Iran, to site just two examples.4 Early in November 2001, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and the US State Department held a two-day meeting on US policy toward Venezuela. This meeting was supposedly held in response to a Chavez statement that the US was fighting “terrorism with terrorism.” It is quite likely that among the options discussed at this meeting was a coup against Chavez.5 Elsewhere in South America, Ecuador almost fell a year ago to a grassroots coalition of peasants and Indians. Farther south, Bolivia has been destabilized by a peasants’ revolt sparked by privatization of their water supply. Even farther south, in Argentina, the economy has crashed and the government has dissolved. People are rioting and looting grocery stores. Brazil has been economically shaken by the fall of Argentina and by the growing strength of the MST — the landless peasant movement. In fact, it would be difficult to find a truly stable government anywhere in South America at this time.
Under Clinton and Bush II, the United States has poured billions worth of military aid into Colombia, ostensibly to fight the drug war, though our support has gone to military and paramilitary units rife with drug trafficking. The US is currently sponsoring a massive defoliation program in Colombia, and we are increasing the number of US military advisors in the country. FARC, the rebel force which controls half of the country, has pledged to target US personnel. And there is word from the state department, since September 11th, that we will consider rebel forces in Colombia to be international terrorists. This author looks for a terrorist/drug war in Colombia which will probably spill over into Venezuela and Ecuador, maybe even Peru. A war in this region will be long and bloody, and may make Vietnam look like a Sunday picnic.
The Former Soviet Union
All lumped together under the title Former Soviet Union, we have not only Russia proper, but also Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea region. This graph is probably the least accurate of Duncan and Youngquist’s predictions, due to lack of data at the time they modeled this graph and also due to exigencies of politics and economics. Duncan and Youngquist did under-assess the Caspian Sea resources, though the correct figures make little difference in their overall world predictions. Most importantly, they did not figure on Russia opening up oil production and exportation to the extent that it has at present, purely due to economic factors.
The oil coup has already moved in this region — the attack on Afghanistan only being the most visible evidence of this. Perhaps more importantly for their interests, the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have opened their countries to the presence of NATO forces. Bases have already been established in all of these countries. It is certain that deals have also been hammered out with these countries for the exploitation of their oil and natural gas resources.
It is also very likely that the oil coup has its eyes on Russia itself. In this case, Russia’s nuclear might precludes an overt attack. Through the 1990s, western financiers looted the Russian economy until there was hardly anything left. At present, Putin has no choice but to open up oil exports just to keep his government solvent. Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed himself as a vassal to the oil coup; however, he is not entirely happy with the actions of the western states. Bush’s rush for a missile defense system would negate Russia’s last claim to superpower. We can only hope that the oil coup is not foolish enough to provoke a nuclear war with Russia.
The Middle East
It is in the Middle East that the real grab for world power will be played out. According to Duncan and Youngquist’s model, by 2007 the Middle East will dominate the world in oil production. This will be the last region where oil production will peak, according to Duncan and Youngquist’s model, sometime around 2011. And the oil of the Middle East lies largely in the provinces of five countries: Iran, Iraq, The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
All but two of these countries are closely tied to the United States and are likely to be players in the oil coup. The exceptions are Iraq and Iran. Iraq’s ability to export oil has been severely restricted since the first Gulf War. Likewise, Iran faced stiff embargoes following the fall of the Shah in the 1970’s. However, in neither of these countries does the oil coup have clear control over oil resources. Likewise, both countries are targeted as terrorist states. Right now, Israel and powers in the United States are lobbying strongly to make Iraq the next target in the “War Against Terrorism.” Rumor has it that this war is slated to begin early in 2002. This author would suggest that, after finishing off Saddam Hussein, the oil coup will then set its sites on Iran. We can say with certainty that the oil coup will want to have both these countries firmly in control before the OPEC crossover event.
But how stable are the governments of the other three major Arab states? The Saudi royals sit very uneasily on their throne. The hundreds of princes which make up the house of Fahd are extremely unpopular due to their own corruption—both economic and moral. National Security Agency electronic intercepts demonstrate that the Saudi princes routinely pay protection money to Islamic extremists, including Hamas and Al Qa’ida. NSA and CIA analysts have noted that it would not take much for an Islamic fundamentalist coup to overthrow the royals. Likewise, a secret CIA study put together in the mid-1980s concludes that terrorists with only a handful of explosives could take the Saudi oil fields off line for two years.
The oil producing Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have all seen large population increases since they began pumping oil. In a couple of generations, they have gone from being simple nomadic peoples to sophisticated urbanites. All of these countries have highly developed welfare states financed by oil money. Unfortunately for them, the rate of population growth has exceeded their ability to financially support the population. It is for this reason that the Arab countries were exceeding their oil quotas throughout the late-1990s, in an effort to cover the expenses of their welfare systems. And let us not forget that these are all desert nations. By the year 2020, all of these countries will have passed peak oil production and be in decline. By that time, none of them will be able to support their populations.6 The result will be starvation, economic disaster and civil unrest. How will the oil coup hope to hold this ship together?
Based on the analysis presented above, we believe that the most likely targets in the “War on Terrorism” will be Iraq, Iran, Colombia, Venezuela, and possibly (though hopefully not) Russia. That there will be actions in other theatres is certain. It is very likely that Somalia will be targeted soon. And, as they hold the world’s richest deposit of uranium, Somalia is not without valuable resources. Other Middle Eastern or Central Asian nations not mentioned here could also be targeted for a number of reasons, energy resources among them. Likewise Indonesia, if that country became too unstable. Then there are actions which could be strictly political, or which could be viewed as vendettas. North Korea, the Philippines, and Cuba could fall into this category. Yet, it is FTW’s belief that the main targets for military action in the years to come will be those stated in the first sentence of this paragraph.
Will the oil coup be successful? That is to be doubted. Just as the Middle Eastern countries can expect problems because their population will surpass their ability to care for them, so will the rest of the world. The entire civilization is apt to break down chaotically, in ways that no one can foresee. Possibly the greatest single problem resulting from all this will be the failure of modern agriculture. Without petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, experts predict that world agriculture will only be able to comfortably support a population of two billion.7 The current world population is over six billion.
What will the members of the oil coup do when they realize they are losing control? If faced with starving, angry masses throughout the world—in the first world as well as the third world — what would be the response of the oil coup? Would they roll over and die, or would they strike back with everything available? It is truly to be hoped that they do not foresee this contingency, or they may decide to unleash biological warfare on the population of the entire world. [There are other possibilities. It is important to remember that the power of those who now wield it depends upon the continuity of the chain of command enabled by the instrument of money. We privileged people could conceivably be driven to rise up in unity against that chain, all of us forced into abandoning the private automobile —to find ourselves, after all, one with the rest of humankind. The future might have no other choice. And there is no force within man great enough to finally deny the imperatives of the future.]
Other Voices Back
911 and its Meta-politics;Steve Marinot
1. THE WORLD PETROLEUM LIFE-CYCLE, Richard C. Duncan and
Walter Youngquist. Presented at the PTTC Workshop "OPEC Oil Pricing and
Independent Oil Producers," Petroleum Technology Transfer Council Petroleum
Engineering Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California;
October 22, 1998.
A PDF Version of this paper is available at
2. THE END OF CHEAP OIL, by Colin J. Campbell and Jean H.
Laherrère, Scientific American, March 1998.
3. CONTENTIOUS NEW VENEZUELAN OIL LAW ENTERS INTO EFFECT. AP, 1 January 2002.
4. KILLING HOPE; US MILITARY AND CIA INTERVENTIONS SINCE
WORLD WAR II, by William Blum. Common Courage Press, 1995. http://members.aol.com/bblum6/
5. US COOKING UP A COUP IN VENEZUELA? by Conn Hallinan.
San Francisco Examiner, 12/28/2001. http://www.examiner.com/sfx/templates/printer.jsp?
6. KING'S RANSOM: HOW VULNERABLE ARE THE SAUDI ROYALS? by
Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker, October 22, 2001.
7. THE POST-PETROLEUM PARADIGM — AND POPULATION, WALTER
YOUNGQUIST. POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT: A JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
Volume 20, Number 4, March 1999 © 1999 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
Dale Allen Pfeiffer is a Michigan structural geologist,
activist, and novelist. He can be reached at: