October 20, 2003
The Guardian (UK)

The New Great Game

by Lutz Kleveman

Nearly two years ago, I travelled to Kyrgyzstan, the mountainous ex-Soviet republic in Central Asia, to witness a historical event: the deployment of the first American combat troops on former Soviet soil.

As part of the Afghan campaign, the US air force set up a base near the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Brawny pioneers in desert camouflages were erecting hundreds of tents for nearly 3,000 soldiers. I asked their commander, a wiry brigadier general, if and when the troops would leave Kyrgyzstan (and its neighbour Uzbekistan, where Washington set up a second airbase). "There is no time limit," he replied. "We will pull out only when all al-Qaeda cells have been eradicated."

Today, the Americans are still there and many of the tents have been replaced by concrete buildings. Bush has used his massive military build-up in Central Asia to seal the cold war victory against Russia, to contain Chinese influence and to tighten the noose around Iran. Most importantly, however, Washington - supported by the Blair government - is exploiting the "war on terror" to further American oil interests in the Caspian region. But this geopolitical gamble involving thuggish dictators and corrupt Saudi oil sheiks is only likely to produce more terrorists.

For much of the past two years, I have researched the links between conflict in Central Asia and US oil interests. I travelled thousands of kilometres, meeting with generals, oil bosses, warlords and diplomats. They are all players in a geostrategic struggle - the new Great Game. . . .


General Smedley Darlington Butler, 'War is just a racket,' 1933

MAP: World of Petroleum

TABLE: Oil and Gas Pipelines

[March 1919 . . . Each nation had come with its own agenda: the Italians to dismember the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the French to disarm the Germans, regain Alsace and Lorraine and the Saar region and gain their share of the Ottoman empire (including control of Syria); the British to win the German colonies in Africa and the South Pacific, keep control of Mesopotamia, have protectorates in Persia and Egypt and see the end of German naval power; the Americans to establish their dream of a League of Nations. And, in addition, each wanted control over oil.--Janet Wallach, " Desert Queen," Anchor Books, July 1999, p 263]

Enver Masud, Russia To Chechens: 'Get Out or Die', The Wisdom Fund, December 7, 1999

C. J. Campbell, Peak Oil: Presentation at the Technical University of Clausthal, December 2000

Michael T. Klare, " Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict," Owl Books, (March 13, 2002)

Enver Masud, A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West, The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

VIDEO: Stephen Pelletiere, "The Predicament Mr. Bush And The Pentagon Have Gotten US Into," Information Clearing House, January 29, 2003

Ahmad Quni, "Iraq oil - the target for years," Al Jazeera, August 10, 2003

Michael Meacher, "This War on Terrorism is Bogus," Guardian, September 6, 2003

Philip Thornton and Charles Arthur, "The axis of oil: how a plan for the world's biggest pipeline threatens to wreak havoc," Independent, October 28, 2003

Andrew Gumbel, "Case for war confected, say top US officials," Independent, November 9, 2003

George Monbiot, " Britain and the US did everything to avoid a peaceful solution in Iraq and Afghanistan," Guardian, November 11, 2003

[The report, issued by the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, said that if Congress gave the go-ahead to pump oil from Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the crude could begin flowing by 2013 and reach a peak of 876,000 barrels a day by 2025.

But even at peak production, the EIA analysis said, the United States would still have to import two-thirds of its oil, as opposed to an expected 70 percent if the refuge's oil remained off the market.--"Study: ANWR oil would have little impact" March 16, 2004]

Sergey Borovik, "Hubbert's Peak Resources: A brief introduction to world oil depletion" May 2, 2004

Philip Thornton, "Hidden costs of pipeline meant to safeguard West's oil supply," Independent, June 26, 2004

[In any event, the world production peak for conventionally reservoired crude is unlikely to be "right around the corner" as so many other estimators have been predicting. Our analysis shows that it will be closer to the middle of the 21st century than to its beginning--John H. Wood, Gary R. Long, David F. Morehouse, "Long-Term World Oil Supply Scenarios," DOE/EIA, August 18, 2004]

M K Bhadrakumar, "India, Pakistan and the 'peace' pipeline," Asia Times, September 15, 2004

[A groundbreaking study from the consulting company PFC Energy illuminates our predicament. The world now uses 82 million barrels of oil a day; that's 30 billion barrels a year. To estimate future production, the study examined historical production and discovery patterns in all the world's oil fields. The conclusion: The world already uses about 12 billion more barrels a year than it finds. "In almost every mature [oil] basin, the world has been producing more than it's finding for close to 20 years," says PFC's Mike Rodgers. That can't continue indefinitely.

The study is no doomsday exercise. Rodgers says that future discovery and recovery rates could be better -- or worse -- than assumed. With present rates, he expects global oil supply to peak before 2020 at about 100 million barrels a day.-- Robert J. Samuelson, "Oil Fantasies," Washington Post, October 6, 2004

Michael T Klare, "The oil that drives the US military," Asia Times, October 9, 2004

[When it comes to the matter of securing Mid East oil supplies, the PNAC made their feelings known in a letter to President Clinton in 1998 where they urged his administration to set in motion a plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power which would secure "our vital interests in the Gulf" that hold "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil."

In 2000, a major PNAC paper was released in which they reiterated their desire that the U.S. become a dominant global force. They also acknowledged that this probably wouldn't happen unless "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor" took place [page 51]. . . .

Clarke stated in his book Against All Enemies that he was shocked to discover that on the day after the 9/11 attacks, he showed up for work at the White House expecting to discuss al-Qaeda but instead the conversation centered on Iraq. Clarke states he "realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try and take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq."

In 2002, the Wall Street Journal states the Cheney is meeting with executives from major oil companies including his former employer, Hallburton. Later, the Pentagon hires a subsidiary of Hallburton to establish a plan to put out oil rig fires in Iraq should a war break out.

In February of 2003 Colin Powell tries to drum up international support for invading Iraq based on the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument. Concurrently, secret government documents outline plans to privatize Iraq's oil sector. On March 20th, the U.S. invades Iraq. . . .

U.S. oil production has peaked and is now on a downward plunge. . . . Cheney confirmed that U.S. production had peaked in 1970 and by 2000 output was 39% below the peak.--Bill Ridley, " Fahrenheit - Gold and Oil," OnlineInvestorsNews, October 11, 2004]

VIDEO: "The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror," Free-Will Productions, October 17, 2004

[Its proven oil reserves could be depleted in 14 years--Robin Wright, " Iran's New Alliance With China Could Cost U.S. Leverage," Washington Post, November 17, 2004]

Richard Spencer, "Tension rises as China scours the globe for energy," Telegraph, November 19, 2004

George Caffentzis, "Local, Islamic and Global: The Petroleum Commons," CounterPunch, December 15, 2004

M K Bhadrakumar, "India finds a $40bn friend in Iran," Asia Times, January 11, 2005

[By 2010 India will have 36 times more cars than it did in 1990. China will have 90 times more, and by 2030 it will have more cars than the United States, according to the Energy Research Institute of Beijing.--Jehangir Pocha, "The Axis of Oil," In These Times, January 11, 2005]

[Underlying all this is the Black Sea's growing strategic importance as an outlet for Russian and Caspian oil - another potential source of conflict as well as wealth.

A sort of "best pipeline" contest is now under way. Russia is exploring a new oil route with Bulgaria and Greece that would bypass pro-western Turkey. From Athens, at least, this looks like a terrific idea.

Another pipeline will run from Azerbaijan via Georgia to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, deviously circumventing poor, ostracised Armenia. Yet another could link Bulgaria's Black Sea coast with Macedonia, Albania and the Adriatic--Simon Tisdall, "Interests and aspirations clash in region of frozen conflicts," Guardian, February 8, 2005]

[Yes, our man (Yushchenko) and our system (democracy) won in Ukraine, and once again good triumphed over bad. Yet this presentation, so characteristic of the Western media, misses the point about what the struggle is really about.

What is really at stake is something quite different, almost entirely unmentioned in the Western media. It is rather more prosaic than a 'people power' revolution. It is primarily a battle over oil transit routes from the second largest remaining oil deposits in the world, and, more long term, a US attempt to pre-empt Chinese designs on the key strategic space round the southern rim of the old Soviet Union.--"One for oil and oil for one," The Spectator (UK), March 5, 2005]

[Investing $180 billion over the next decade to eliminate oil dependence and revitalize strategic industries can save $130 billion gross, or $70 billion net, every year by 2025.--Amory B.Lovins, et al, "Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security," Rocky Mountain Institue, March 1, 2005]

Jeremy Leggett, "We've been warned about 'peak oil'- the day that heralds the end of cheap energy," Independent, April 25, 2005

Michael T. Klare, "Energo-fascism: The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences,", January 16, 2007

[Most studies estimate that oil production will peak sometime between now and 2040--"GAO: U.S. needs a peak oil strategy," Energy Bulletin, March 29, 2007]

Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas

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