Reuters reports: U.S. to surpass Saudi as top oil producer by 2016 – says the International Energy Agency. The United States will stride past Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s top oil producer by 2016, the West’s energy agency said, bringing Washington closer to energy self-sufficiency and reducing the need for OPEC supply.
By reading this cleverly written report one gets an impression that the US is close to achieving energy self-sufficiency; consequently it has lost all interest in the Middle Eastern oil. But surpassing the Saudi 10 million bpd (barrels per day) oil supply is not a benchmark; total extractable oil reserves are the real benchmark. If the US surpasses Saudi in its daily oil production and runs out of oil by 2020; how confident the US policy-makers would feel about their energy security?
All our hopes of abundant shale oil come dashing down to the ground when we read this report by the Oil Drum: The trillions of barrels of shale oil which the corporate media is hyping up is in the Green River formation which is not extractable at least for a 100 more years because it is in the form of solid kerogen. While the Texas and North Dakota oil formations are not actually shale oil; it is tight oil which is blocked off by the shale; and its quantity is very limited: 2 to 4 billion barrels in North Dakota and 3 billion barrels in Texas. The world consumes a billion barrels in 11 days. For the sake of comparison, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran roughly have 200 billion barrels each, with a minimum per barrel extraction cost leading to windfalls for the Big Oil.
This blogpost is an assortment of some of my earlier comments at different forums on the subject of petro-terrorism. There is no denying the fact that terrorism is a real threat. But at the same time we cannot overlook the fact that 9/11 provided an opportunity to the Big Oil in the West to intervene in the Middle East region to secure its vast natural resources from the competing powers. Hence the name, True Lies of Petro-terrorism.
In his article titled “True Lies” Nadeem F. Paracha (NFP) of Dawn News asks an interesting question.
NFP: If US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas whip up an enraged sense of revenge among the area’s Pashtun populace, what do terrorist attacks by the extremists create?
It is a valid logical argument but this argument is based on syllogistic logic. We need to be careful using syllogism for knowing the truth because even when one premise is slightly wrong we end up with an incorrect result. An instance: first premise; Socrates is a rational being: second premise; Socrates is a man: result: all men are rational beings. But all men are not rational beings especially the terrorists? Deductive reasoning in this example is correct but the second premise “Socrates is a man” is flawed on the count of inductive reasoning. Of course Socrates is a man but there are different kind of men, some are more rational than others depending on their education.
NFP is right about the fact that the US drone strikes whip up a sense of revenge among the tribals because in this case the perpetrator of the crime is clear and identifiable. But when it comes to the terrorist attacks the picture gets a little more complex. Here we need to draw a distinction between the terrorist attacks inside tribal areas and the terrorist attacks in the settled areas. We often hear about the infighting between different terrorist networks, it is sometimes a turf war and sometimes retaliatory and retributive infighting between different tribes, clans and terror networks. Thus NFP’s syllogism is correct, both drone attacks and suicide bombings inside tribal areas whip up a sense of revenge among the tribals. Tribal areas is a different world altogether, a world without any writ of the government and a heavily militarized population (thanks to the Soviet-Afghan war legacy) where disputes are settled through Jirgas and retribution is a common practice among different families, clans and tribes.
Updated with a postscript on Arab Spring added at the bottom:
Some people are under the impression that democracy and Islam are incompatible. But I don’t see any contradiction between democracy and Islam. Though I admit, there is some friction between Islam and liberalism. When we say that there is a contradiction between Islam and democracy, we make a category mistake which is a very serious logical fallacy. We must be precise about the definitions of the terms that we employ.
Democracy is simply a representative political system that ensures representation, accountability, the right of the electorate to vote governments in and vote governments out. In this sense when we use the term democracy we mean a multi-party representative political system that confers legitimacy upon a government which comes to power through an election process which is a contest between more than one political parties, to ensure that it is voluntary. Thus democracy is nothing more than a multi-party political system.
But some of us romantics get carried away in their boundless enthusiasm and ascribe meanings to the words that are quite subjective and fallacious. Some will hyphenate it with liberalism and call it a liberal-democracy while others will call it an informed or enlightened democracy. In my opinion the only correct conjunction to democracy is a representative-democracy. There is a big difference between democracy and liberalism. Democracy falls under the category of politics while liberalism falls in the category of culture. And we don’t want to mix politics and culture together because it will give us a toxic blend which is an anathema to some of our core sensibilities: religion is roughly a sub-category of culture and it will be a violation of the tenets of secularism to involve religion/culture in the political matters. Politics must strictly be about allocation of resources, i.e. economics and any mention to culture, religion or value-system must offend our liberal sensibilities and secular aesthetics.
Let me admit at the outset that Assad is an illegitimate tyrant who must abdicate his hereditary throne to the will of the people when the opportune moment arrives. But at the moment our primary concern shouldn’t be bringing democracy to Syria; at the moment our first and foremost priority should be reducing the level of violence in Syria. There are two parties to this conflict: the regime and the rebels. It is not possible for the regime to get off the back of the tiger because the tiger will eat it alive. The regime is fighting a war of defense; and what is at stake in this war is its survival; not only its survival but the survival of its clan: the Alawite minority of 2.6 million people who comprise 12% population of Syria’s 22 million people. It isn’t about Assad’s ego; even if Assad wants to give up, the people around him won’t let him.
The second party to the conflict is the rebels who are generously supported by the GCC and Turkey (Sunni Muslims), NATO and Israel. Don’t get alarmed and be dismissive of the possibility of an alliance between the Sunni Muslims of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey and the Zionists of Israel. It is realpolitik: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In fact the Western interest in this war is partly about Israel’s regional security because the Shia axis comprising Iran-Syria-Hezbollah is an existential threat to Israel; and with each passing year the nature of this threat will enhance proportionally with the increased sophistication of Iranian missile program. In the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, most of the rockets fired by Hezbollah into the Israeli territory missed their target; but according to some reports Iran and Hezbollah have already developed smarter missiles and with every passing year the threat of Hezbollah’s guided missiles so close to Israeli borders will haunt the Israeli strategists’ dreams.
Another reason for the unnatural Western especially US, Britain and France’s interest in the happenings in Syria is about making friendly autocratic Arab regimes friendlier and about neutralizing the enemy’s capabilities by taking advantage of the opportunity provided to them in the form of a just war based on moral reasons. Let me elaborate this complexity. First of all we must admit that the political movement in Syria for enfranchisement is real; and even the militant elements find some support in the Sunni majority areas of rural Syria. An insurgency cannot survive without some level of support from the local population. And especially in the context of Syria which has ill-guarded borders with Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Iraq; the cross-border movement of militants, arms and munitions cannot be tightly controlled.
Introduction: The Pakistani military establishment is rightfully blamed for creating the Taliban; but the phenomena of religious extremism and terrorism is not limited to Pakistan; this conflagration has engulfed the whole of Islamic world from Iraq and Syria to Algeria and Indonesia and even the Muslim minorities in China, Thailand and Philippines. Pakistani establishment does not has access to all these regions, thus, aside from local actors, some regional and global actors are also responsible for creating the menace of Islamic extremism and terrorism. A more holistic understanding of the problem will identify three actors responsible for creating this menace: Pakistani military establishment; Saudi and Gulf petro-monarchies and last but not the least, the Reagan Administration’s support for the Afghan Jihad in the context of the Cold War.
A recent EU parliament report also identified the Wahabi-Salafi roots of Global Terrorism; a laudable report which ironically or rather expectedly doesn’t even makes a passing reference to the role of Western powers in sponsoring Islamic terrorism during the 80s. Plausible deniability in waging proxy wars is a clever Machiavellian tactic in realpolitik but it is a form of “denial” which is always a part of the problem and never a part of the solution. Truth is a sine qua non in any Truth and Reconciliation approach. But this write-up is about the role of Saudi Arabia as the proverbial Caliph of Islam in promoting extremism and terrorism in the Muslim Ummah or Commonwealth; the role of Western powers in creating this hoax, I have already discussed in my blogpost: Terrorism as pretext for intervention.
The trouble with Pakistani liberals is that they don’t understand what they want? PPP (People’s party) and ANP (Pashtun Awami national party) opposed the Afghan Jihad; and the resultant extremism and terrorism in Pakistan in the aftermath of Afghan Jihad is in a way a vindication of their rightful stance. But mere vindication is not enough, we need to find solutions for the pressing problem. And what is their solution? Military-bashing, right-wing-bashing and a false victimhood syndrome. Actually there is more to extremism and terrorism than meets the eye. It is only partly an issue of human rights and minority rights; more than that it is an issue of social identities and subjective narratives.
The killings must stop, there are no two views about that; but the abhorrence and contempt shown by the elite towards the right-wing middle and lower classes is more about the latent religious conservatism in the Pakistani society. A state and its policies constitute a social matrix in which the individuals and their families reside. The kind of religious conservative society that the Zia regime has fostered in Pakistan is an anathema to the liberal elite. If the individuals and their families don’t like the social matrix; they blame the majority and tend to adopt a hostile attitude towards the majority and the state. It’s like the Katchi abadies (slums) right in front of PCs and Marriots; an eyesore in an otherwise posh environment. Like Chaudhry Nisar recently mentioned that thieves and thugs reside in such slums and he would like to purge them pronto.
In Lahore’s top private university:
What do people think; who did launch the chemical weapons? Did Assad or someone in his army do it? It’s certainly possible since the Baathists are some of the worst and most vicious operators in the region. Or did the rebels do it? They are no less vicious. Or did Amrika or Israel do it? Their reputation in that region (and maybe worldwide) is certainly bad enough for people to believe that too?
Do people oppose an attack because they think he did not do it or because they think that even if he did it, it’s none of our business? I am just curious. Lets hear it in the comments.
If Assad did it, how good is the case for attacking him in that case?
I has posted some comments on another site (assuming, for the sake of argument, that Assad did it AND that the US wants to intervene to save lives AND promote its own position as worldcop and keeper of international order..these assumptions are open to question, but for now, lets take them as given). Since I dont have time to write a new post, I am just patching together some of my comments from that site and I invite comments. I am aware that these comments are also likely to be grossly misinterpreted, but hey, that’s life, so here goes: Continue reading
First published at 3quarksdaily.com
by Omar Ali
The first thing that strikes you on landing in Pakistan
after a few years is how much more “modern” it is and how dramatically (and
frequently, painfully) it is changing with every passing day. One is reminded that Pakistan is as much a
part of “rising Asia” as India, Bangladesh or Thailand and is not all about terrorists,
conspiracy theories, Salafist nutjobs or
the clash of civilizations. But since more qualified people are writing about
the economics of rising Asia, the destruction of the environment, the breakdown
of traditional society, the future of the planet, and the meaning of life, I
will try not to step too much on their turf. And since there are countless
articles (and more than one
famous book) detailing the Westernized elite’s view of how the underclass
lives and dies in rising Asia, I will not intrude too far on that well-trodden
terrain either. Instead, without further
ado, here are my personal and entirely anecdotal observations from 3 weeks in
uncertainty is real and deep. Not only are people unsure about what may
happen next, they are unsure about how uncertain they are! Someone can start
off by saying life will go on, it will probably be more of the same, things will
slowly get better but there will be no big sudden transformation. Then, as the
conversation proceeds, report that he (or she) is afraid it’s all going to fall
apart next year in one big apocalyptic disaster. A few minutes later, the same
person confidently assures you that we are about to turn the corner and
Pakistan will be the next China (or at least, the next Chinese colony, which is
pretty much the same thing). If asked
which of these three theories (more of the same, impending disaster or turning
the Chinese corner) he thinks is more likely, he seems genuinely surprised to
learn that he has just confidently predicted three different outcomes. This
seemed like a new trend. Different people used to have different theories about
what may come next but now the same
person has many different theories and seems equally unsure about all of them. It did cross my mind that maybe this happens
everywhere but is just more noticeable here. But the fact remains, it was more
noticeable this time than it has ever been in the past.
I wrote something for Pragati this week about Pakistani creation myths and their consequences.
I had written a last paragraph that had to be cut due to word limitations, but I am reproducing it here:
The argument is not that Pakistan exists in some parallel dimension where economic and political factors that operate in the rest of the world play no role. But rather that the usual problems of twenty-first century post-colonial countries (problems that may prove overwhelming even where Islamism plays no role) are made significantly worse by the imposition upon them of a flawed and dangerous “Paknationalist-Islamic” framework. Without that framework Pakistan would still be a third world country facing immense challenges. But with this framework we are either committed to ideologies that further undermine existing cultural strengths, sharpen existing religious divisions (including the Shia-Sunni division) and most important, do not have any blueprint for actually running a modern state. Or we are condemned to hypocritically mouthing meaningless and even destructive Paknationalist and Islamist slogans while actually trying to do something else. Damned if we do and damned when we don’t even mean to do it.
History was old and rusted, it was a machine nobody had plugged in for thousands of years, and here all of a sudden it was being asked for maximum output. Nobody was surprised that there were accidents… (Salman Rushdie, Shame)