AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Petro-Superpowers

As Michael T. Klare, author of "Blood and Oil" and "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: the New Geopolitics of Energy" puts it succinctly, America's wealth and power (as well, this blogger hastens to add, its profligately wasteful lifestyle) "has long rested on the abundance of cheap petroleum." Unbelievably now, the United States was once the world's largest producer of oil; the fortunes of the Rockefellers, of course, did not come from nowhere. Says Klare: "Abundant, exceedingly affordable petroleum was also responsible for the emergence of the American automotive and trucking industries, the flourishing of the domestic airline industry, the development of the petrochemical and plastics industries, the suburbanization of America, and the mechanization of its agriculture. Without cheap and abundant oil, the United States would never have experienced the historic economic expansion of the post-World War II era." The year domestic American oil production hit its peak, in 1970, was also the peak year of the post-war economic boom. From there on in, it would be oil shocks, stagnant wages, the slow but inexorable rollback of America's already-minimal welfare state, and of course, an increasing dependency on foreign oil: the United States now imports 65% of the stuff, transferring in the process $548 billion dollars a year to its happy suppliers, who use the profits in turn to gobble up American assets through sovereign-wealth funds (SWFs): "state-controlled (note) investment accounts that buy up prized foreign assets in order to secure non-oil-dependent sources of wealth." As Klare point out, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority alone has assets of $875 billion dollars, and has over time bought into Citigroup, Advanced Micro Systems, and the Carlyle Group, to the financial benefit, not surprisingly, of both the Bushes and the Bin Ladens.

In short, America would not be able to toss so many of its bombs around the world without the oil to do it with (one last Michael Klare stat: the US Department of Defense uses more oil per day than the entire nation of Sweden). It is not so hard to envision a not too-distant future in which the United States military invades other nations simply to get the oil to keep itself going enough to invade the next country in order to get the oil to...until, spent, it simply grinds to a halt, all of its tanks and Humvees wasting away, Mad-Max style, rusting hulks in whatever desert they were stationed in before the black gold ran out.

Where does this leave the world's energy exporters? Financially speaking, pretty good: these are the Petro-Superpowers, the 21st century answer to the outdated, 20th century, just-plain Superpower. We have already mentioned the Arab States through the example of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority; its neighbor Saudi Arabia, of course, is the world's largest oil producer, a big-time investor in the US stock markets, and a fast friend of every White House. Meanwhile, Russia, the world's number two oil producer - and its top natural-gas producer - has been recently flexing its muscle in very blatant fashion in Georgia, but has been building itself back up for a good decade now, throughout the period the US State Department was so contemptuously writing them off. Instead of letting American oil companies buy up its assets after the fall of the USSR, they concentrated most of them in state-owned Gazprom which, as Ukraine learned in 2006, can turn on and off the supply to its neighbors at will. Closer to home, Venezuela under Hugo Chávez is using its oil wealth both to provide cheap gasoline to its own citizens (a starker contrast to current Mexico there cannot be) and to lead the way in the financial and energetic integration of South America.

And Mexico? Petro-superpower? Petro-power, at least? Petro-pussy, more like. With the alacrity of Richard Pryor in "Brewster's Millions," Mexico's current constitutional-coup installed government (in cahoots with the top brass of its state-owned company PEMEX) is doing everything possible to squander and sell off the nation's oil wealth as fast as it humanly can, without, like Pryor, the possibility of getting something back at the end for its efforts. The scandal-of-the-week of PEMEX having acquired a piece-of-crap ship entitled "El Señor de los Mares" for up to ten times its market value is just one more example, tedious in its predictably, of the spectacular waste of the nation's oil wealth in a web of corruption implicating PEMEX head Jesus Reyes Heroles (who first haughtily denied López Obrador's allegations regarding the just slightly-marked-up ship acqusition only to have to eat crow through surrogates by the end of the week), Vicente Fox's ever-present stepsons, the Bribiesca boys, and practically everybody else in the federal government with keys to the storeroom. Rather than use its oil revenue to reinforce the state's stewardship of the economy, environment and internal security, Mexico is witnessing the exact opposite: the sinking of said state under the waves in a losing war with the better-funded, better-armed and better-trained drug cartels and a policy of transferring whatever public wealth and resources that happen to be left over into private - and foreign - hands through bogus, inflated contracts and bullshit buys like "El Señor de los Mares".

"Whether we know it or not," Michael Klare says, "...the United States is an ex-superpower in the making." How much sadder is it, then, that Mexico is simply going to go from poor to poorer when the last of its oil is sucked right out from under its feet - and with so precious little to show for it.

(Read the Michael Klare piece in full at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174929/michael_klare_america_out_of_gas)

1 comment:

Patric de Mexico said...

Petro-pussies?
Maybe, Oil-dicks.