Tom Talks About Gas Prices
I've only recently started reading Thomas Friedman. Up until last year, Atlanta had two newspapers. The morning paper, which was liberal, was the Constitution. The afternoon paper, which was conservative, was the Journal. I prefer an afternoon paper and I subscribed to the Journal. They had been sharing resources for quite some time, and, last year, they just morphed into one newspaper, The Atlanta Urinal and Constipation. The editorial section is run by Cynthia Tucker who is liberal, and the assistant editor is Jim Wooten, who is conservative. They do try and maintain balance, but the paper does lean left. So, now I get to read some columnists that were previously only available in the Constipation. Thomas Friedman was one of them. Turns out I haven't been missing much.
Tommy lost all his stature as some sort of pundit on foreign affairs when he was
suckered by informed by Crown Prince Abdullah of the Israeli suicide Arab peace plan. What a bullshit plan that was. Let me get this straight. Israel retreats to indefensable borders. We give Yassir Arafat his own sovereign state with its own airport and the ability to make treaties and just maybe the Arabs might recognize Israel. Would this be before or after they drove all the Jews into the sea? And Friedman fell for this bullshit and expects us to ever take him seriously again?
I opened today's paper and came upon this column (link requires registration) by Mr. Friedman. As usual, excerps and comments follow.
Reading the papers lately, I've lost track of whether the Pentagon plans to invade Iraq from three sides or four, and whether we will be using Jordan, Kuwait or Diego Garcia as our main launching pad.
Tom, all you have to do is ask your editors at the New York Times. They're the ones who keep releasing invasion plans.
But one thing I haven't seen much planning for is the impact an attack on Iraq would have on the world's oil market.
Well, dammit, Bush and Cheney are oil men. They probably have some idea. It's just that there are leaks at the Pentagon but none at the White House.
Depending on how the war went, that impact could be very bad and lead to a sharp spike in oil prices, like $60-a-barrel oil.
Wouldn't that suck big time?
But — wait a minute — it could also be very good, and lead to $6-a-barrel oil that would weaken OPEC and, maybe, also weaken the Arab autocrats who depend on high oil prices to finance their illegitimate regimes and buy off opponents.
And also finance radical religion of peaceTM terrorism.
Raising this oil question is not an argument against taking down Saddam Hussein. He's a bad man, building dangerous weapons, who has raped the future of two generations of Iraqis. The whole region would be improved by his ouster.
Way to go Tom. You have stumbled onto the truth. Even a blind squirrel can stumble upon an acorn once in a while.
It is an argument, though, for thinking through all the dimensions of any attack on Iraq. We're not talking about a war in Tora Bora here.
Right again. We'll be attacking Iraq.
We're talking about a war in the world's main gas station.
This should be an incentive to help Russia with its oil extraction technology. And Mexico, we're giving your people jobs. Howsa 'bout pumpin' some more oil for us?
"A proposed attack on Iraq is an extraordinarily high-risk economic adventure that could either destabilize the governments of one or more oil exporting countries by creating a prolonged period of low prices, or, if things went wrong, lead to a prolonged disruption of world oil supplies, which could be even more devastating," says Philip K. Verleger Jr., an oil expert and fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.
So Phil, you're telling us you don't know what's gonna happen? Thanks. You're a big help. Maybe Tom has some ideas.
Let's start with the $60-a-barrel scenario.
Now that would suck big time! That would really piss off the soccer moms in their SUV's.
(The price today is in the mid-$20's.) While the
New York Times Pentagon keeps leaking its war plans, no one ever writes about what Saddam's war plans might be.
First, find a real good bunker to hide in.
What if Saddam responds by firing Scuds with chemical or biological warheads at Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti oilfields? The world market could lose not only Iraq's two million barrels a day, but millions more.
A real bad thing. But not as bad as an American city being nuked.
And what if the war drags on and we have as much trouble finding Saddam as we've had finding Osama?
We don't need to find Saddam. Once we defeat the Iragi army, I'm sure some of the people around Sammy will see the handwriting on the wall (Mene, mene, tekel...) and be willing to cut a deal with us.
Don't kid yourself: If prices skyrocket because of a war in the Persian Gulf, Venezuela, Iran, Nigeria and others will cut back their output and keep prices high to milk the moment for all it's worth.
During war, we have to make sacrifices. What's the other scenario?
The scenario that could produce $6-a-barrel oil goes like this: Iraq under
Saddam has been pumping up to two million barrels of oil a day, under the
oil-for-weapons and Palestinian bomber families oil-for-food
program. Let's say a U.S. invasion works
And we all remember how fiercly the Iraqi army fought the last time.
and in short order Saddam is ousted and replaced by an Iraqi Thomas Jefferson,
Yeah. Like that's gonna happen. Call up Ripley's believe it or not. An Arab Thomas Jefferson. Maybe it's a joke. I didn't realize Tommy had a sense of humor.
or just a "nice" general ready to abandon Iraq's nuclear weapons program and rejoin the family of nations.
Which is what we're hoping for.
That would mean Iraq would be able to modernize all its oilfields, attract foreign investment and in short order ramp up its oil production to its long-sought capacity of five million barrels a day. That is at least three million barrels of oil a day more on the world market, and Iraq, which will be desperate for cash to rebuild, is not likely to restrain itself. (Now you understand why Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait all have an economic interest in Saddam's staying in power and Iraq's remaining a pariah state, so it can't produce more oil.)
And wouldn't it be nice to tell the Saudis to eat sand? And just think what that would do to the financing of international terrorism. Our 'friends' the Suadis are the biggest bankrollers of the terrorists. This is starting to sound good.
In addition, notes Mr. Verleger, if we invade Iraq in the late winter or spring,
What does the New York Times say? Have they set a date yet?
when world oil demand normally declines, OPEC countries will have to slash their own production even more to accommodate Iraq. This would be coming at a time when non-OPEC countries
The good guys.
(Russia, Mexico, Norway, Oman and Angola) have been steadily boosting their output and will continue doing so. Most OPEC countries, however, can't cut back any more to make room for them. Venezuela is broke.
And whose fault is that?
Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia need cash to deal with all their debts, their masses of unemployed and new infrastructure demands.
Like I really care. Bad government has its consequences. It will be fun watching the mullahs of Iran and the Saudi princes suffer, the bastards. And Nigeria, just another sub-Saharan basket case.
(Watch Saudi Arabia. King Fahd is now gravely ill in a hospital in Switzerland, and the struggle to succeed him is in full swing.)
The Arab version of fighting over the estate. Except they use weapons and not lawyers.
Bottom line: A quick victory that brings Iraq fully back into the oil market could lead to a sharp fall in oil incomes throughout OPEC that could seriously weaken the oil cartel and rob its many autocratic regimes of the income they need to maintain their closed political systems.
And in the Saudis' case international terrorism. That is why Charles Krauthammer opined over four months ago that we needed to tackle Iraq before dealing with the Israeli-Plastinian situation. Take out Iraq and we eliminate some terrorist funding and some terrorist bases. Do you think Syria or Iran would want to fuck with us then? Without Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, Yassir Arafat is history. And good riddance to that evil bastard. He has done more harm to the Palestinians than the Israelis ever could.
In fact, give me sustained $10-a-barrel oil and I'll give you revolutions from Iran to Saudi Arabia, and throw in Venezuela.
Look. Tom gets it.
If that scenario prevails, you could look at an invasion of Iraq as a possible two-for-one sale: destroy Saddam and destabilize OPEC at the same time. Buy one, get one free.
Put Palestinian terrorism out of business. And, as an added bonus, can you imagine Bush not getting reelected with gas under a buck a gallon. Wouldn't that piss Hillary off? See, it's not a twofer. It's a threefer.
But you better prepare for the consequences of both.
And I'm sure the admisitration has.