Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chilcot-rapport: Irak-krigen handlede om olie

Chilcot-rapporten, der evaluerer Storbritanniens deltagelse i invasionen og besættelsen af Irak, afslører, at olie spillede en vigtig rolle for briterne. Og at briterne og amerikanerne udkæmpede en diplomatisk kamp om olien.

"Det ville være upassende for den britiske regering at indgå i diskussioner om fremtidig fordeling af Iraks olieindustri," sagde Sir David Manning, Tony Blairs udenrigspolitiske rådgiver, til Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bushs nationale sikkerhedsrådgiver, december 2002, "ikke desto mindre er det essentielt at britiske virksomheder får adgang til denne og andre sektorer på lige vilkår med amerikanske."

Allerede to måneder før invasionen mødtes den britiske regering med olieselskaberne BP og Shell, for at forberede deres kommende forretninger. Og til et møde mellem USA og Storbritanniens forsvarsministre, Donald Rumsfeld og Geoff Hoon, i 2003 havde sidstnævnte ligelig adgang til Iraks olie i på dagsordenen. I et notat fra september 2004 skriver embedsmænd om britiske virksomheders potentiale for "substantielle olieforretninger i de næste fem til ti år".

BP og Shell vandt nogle irakiske oliekontrakter ved auktioner mod blandt andet russiske og kinesiske firmaer, men briterne følte sig alligevel forfordelt. Således mødtes Edward Chaplin, Storbritanniens ambassadør i det besatte Irak, i december 2004 med Iraks premierminister Ayad Allawi for at tale BP og Shells sag. Irakiske embedsmænd gav udtryk for, de britiske virksomheder ikke udviste samme dedikation som andre landes olievirksomheder. BP og Shell har tilsyneladende afventet vedtagelse af en ny irakisk grundlov.

"Vi fik ikke noget som helst i oliesektoren," beskrev tidligere FN-ambassadør Sir Jeremy Q. Greenstock de britiske frustrationer til Chilcot-kommissionen, "besættelsesadministrationen holdt det på amerikanske hænder, for de ville selv styre oliesektoren."

Kilder: The Guardian / US and Britain wrangled over Iraq's oil in aftermath of war, Chilcot shows, Bloomberg / Iraq Inquiry Shows Oil Was a Consideration for U.K. Before War.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Surprise: Few wars are primarily about oil

The Washington Post recently published Oil wars: Why nations aren’t battling over resources by Emily Meierding. Does this article remove the entire foundation of this blog and the book I made of it?

Pointing at "invasion costs, occupation costs, international costs and investment costs", Emily Meierding says oil wars are just not worth fighting. With reference to The Falklands War (1982), The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Kuwait war (1990) and other wars, she argues these historical examples were about national pride, territory and Saddam Hussein's survival respectively. Similar alternative explanations for other wars.

So, why am I bookmarking this article? And why didn't I immediately delete my blog and forget about this whole thing?

Firstly, I have always bookmarked the opposing point of view. Go through my history of hundreds of ecowar bookmarks, and you will find plenty. Also see the beginning of chapter 4 (pages 74-) and the Objections part of chapter 6 (pages 123-) of my book, Ecowar - Natural Resources and Conflict.

Secondly, although Emily Meierding's headline says "nations aren't battling over resources", I don't think she really proves this statement in her text. What she does convincingly argue, is that in the cases she mentions, oil wasn't the primary causes of the conflict. To get academic about it, for each war one should list its causes and rate them in primary, secondary and even tertiary. I am guilty of having more or less skipped this discipline. But that doesn't mean conflicts with natural resources as their secondary causes aren't resource conflicts at all. For a very brief discussion of this, see the first chapter of my book or look up the works of some of the leading scholars.

What is also interesting about Emily Meierding's article, is how the discussion has gone full circle. When I first set out researching, claiming most wars were resource wars was taboo. While I wrote up the book, that changed (pages 126-128). Apparently, now it is quite main stream to associate natural resources with conflict. And what have we: An up and coming scholar seeking to prove things to be the other way around. Isn't that what we all want to achieve?

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Food Security and Conflict - speech and debate

Food Security and Conflict debate by Food Tank. Keynote speaker: David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.
"The main concentration of world hunger now is in countries that are struggling with conflict."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Read "THE OUTLAW OCEAN" series on New York Times

Check out New York Times' six part series about the medevial conditions on the high seas.
In this series on lawlessness on the high seas, Ian Urbina reveals that crime and violence in international waters often goes unpunished.
In particular, ‘SEA SLAVES’: THE HUMAN MISERY THAT FEEDS PETS AND LIVESTOCK reports of slavery-like working conditions onboard.
“Life at sea is cheap,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. “And conditions out there keep getting worse.”
And A RENEGADE TRAWLER, HUNTED FOR 10,000 MILES BY VIGILANTES of poaching and vigilantism!
Industrial-scale violators of fishing bans and protected areas are a main reason more than half of the world’s major fishing grounds have been depleted and by some estimates over 90 percent of the ocean’s large fish like marlin, tuna and swordfish have vanished. [...] Illegal fishing is a global business estimated at $10 billion in annual sales, and one that is thriving as improved technology has enabled fishing vessels to plunder the oceans with greater efficiency.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 bookmarks - the year in war over natural resources

From the depths of my bookmarks (that were all automatically tweeted) on conflict and natural resources, here is a quick review of the way in which Earth was plundered for natural resources in the past year. Year 2014, the 100th anniversary of the first war to run on oil.

In short, 2014 was just more of the same. Like...
But a lot more of the same also means obscure news stories grow into reports from acknowledged organizations—like when
Some of the worst news this year was how Islamic State grew out of the chaos in Iraq and Syria, and became known not as the richest terrorist group in the world, but as the poorest terrorist country. Because they successfully occupy and exploit vast oil fields, loot everything lootable while controlling many smuggler's routes and ruthless dealers. I get how they control the population by mass executions rivaling the worst in history, denying crucial water supplies to villages and other callous misdeeds. But how do they manage to sell oil worth millions of dollars every single day even as all eyes are on the region? Money talks, of course, anywhere and anytime, but still?

Part of the answer came in this fascinating report by Suzan Fraser and Yilmaz Akinci from the border between Turkey and Syria, where... hillbillies, basically... tell how they have always been smuggling. Everyone did it. For generations. So, suddenly a few more bearded men came with a bit more oil than usual. It worked for a time, but Turkish police cracked down on it. Their large scale “pipeline” was smacked into smaller, obscure “pipelines” - like the ones the Islamic terrorists have for every other country, apparently.

Probably more efficient that the Turkish police, however, is the Saudi Arabian financial muscle. To them and most of their allies, the sum of benefits of a low oil price seems to currently triumph the more obvious benefits of a high oil price. Mainly by cutting the cash flow to Iran, Syria, Islamic State, Russia, even North American non-conventional (fossil) energy producers and others. In fact, I've seen some speculate Saudi Arabia has almost won the war on Ukraine's behalf as Russia's weakening rubles soon cannot pay for any more war. Speaking of Ukraine: This country used to be self-sufficient in coal, but the territory occupied by rebels and Russians just happen to host 66 coal mines, leaving Ukraine's power plants under-supplied; and the shores off now Russian Crimea just happen to be full of gas. What a coincidence.

That was all just slightly scratching the surface of year 2014 in war for natural resources. On slightly more positive notes, Interpol published a most-wanted list of environmental criminals at large – go get 'em – and Egypt and Ethiopia seems to be agreeing on how to share the Nile.

Happy New Year!

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