Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Black Gold

 
In Dymphna’s recent post about Saudi Arabia, commenter westbankmama took exception to some of the questions that were being asked and posed her own:
    …some more pertinent questions would be:
What do you drive?
Is there a commuter rail system where you live — and if not, why not?
How do you heat your house — and how much larger is it per person than the house you grew up in?
Putting aside the somewhat self-righteous tone of the questions, westbankmama has a point: the demand for oil — particularly by the United States — allows the despotic Saudi regime to accumulate the wealth that it uses to oppress its own populace and fund terrorist activities and propaganda worldwide.

So put on an extra sweater! Bike to work! Forego your vacation! Every penny kept out of King Abdullah’s hands is a penny earned.

And somehow we will have to persuade India and China to halt their economic development, since it is the recent and enormous increase in their demand which is largely responsible for the steep rise in oil prices over the last several years. Tell the farmers in Gujarat that they’ll have to do without electricity, in order to stop the Great Islamic Jihad in its tracks!

There’s something not quite right with this argument…

Gold barsJust for fun, imagine that tomorrow a huge new gold field is discovered by Pakistani geologists under the mountains of northern Waziristan. Thousands of tons of gold are suddenly added to Pakistan’s treasury, giving it the kind of international leverage that is normally reserved for the members of OPEC.

Despite the chumminess with Pervez Musharraf forced upon President Bush by the exigencies of statecraft, it is definitely not in the interests of the United States that Pakistan acquire the same buying power as Saudi Arabia. Worldwide Deobandism would join Wahhabism as a primary engine of the Great Jihad.

So, in the interests of national security, we’d have to abandon the use of gold as an international currency, revoke its status as a precious metal, and force the goldbugs to relinquish forever the dream of overturning Bretton Woods, right?

Or maybe not.

Look at it from another angle: For the past thirty years Norway has received enormous revenues from North Sea oil. Therefore it would be a good idea to cut back on petroleum usage in order to de-fund the export of Scandinavian terror, and keep the Viking zealots from imposing strict Norse law on the rest of the world. If they had their way, we’d all be eating lutefisk and climbing into the sauna with — gasp! — members of the opposite sex.

Obviously, the problem isn’t the transfer of wealth, but the behavior of the recipients.

The appropriate analogy is the mother of a tired two-year-old. When the little darling is ready to use any nearby object as a projectile, the savvy mother doesn’t try to keep ahead of the toddler by removing the next likely weapon. She puts the little bugger into bed with his blanket and bottle, and makes sure that he stays there till he starts snoring.

At some point we are going to have to stop referring to the dictators of certain Islamic countries as our “good friends”, and name the enemy for what he is.

In the meantime, I just wish our President could manage to conduct the necessary diplomacy without holding hands with the infantile tyrants.

19 comments:

metaphysician said...

There's a further problem with that idea.

Okay, lets say the US suddenly stopped all usage of oil ( or just part of it, but a large part ). This would decrease the demand for oil overall, and thus its price. . .

. . .and thus, with a lower price, there would be more incentive for everyone else to buy it, raising the demand back up, and probably the price too.

Epaminondas said...

This one PISSES me off.
What car do we drive?

Nissan Titan, big green and HOG.
We will NEVER conserve our way to oil freedom..PERIOD. NEVER.

We will nuclear power our way.
We will drill our way
We will research our fuel cell, hydrogen, battery, solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro our way.

We don't have commuter rail because there is NO PLACE TO COMMUTE.

And if my wife gets cold I will BRING IN SOME MORE WOOD.

The only question here is why the hell we aren't going hell bent for leather in this regard.

KSA is no friend as freedom house one year ago made very clear. These wheels up scotch lifting, montecarlo dining and gambling, blond lusting, decrepit tyrants are headed for the big one.

Let's just make sure that when the inevitable happens they drown in the oil we won't need.

Hey Nancy and Harry, can you hear me?

David said...

"Is there a commuter rail system where you live — and if not, why not?"

Commuter rail is not the energy panacea it has been painted as:
1)Due to fluctuations in traffic, mostly-empty rail cars get hauled around for large portions of the day.
2)The manufacturing of steel rail is itself a very energy-intensive process. And rail doesn't last forever.
3)Few people will be able to complete an entire commute entirely via rail: they will need car and/or taxi to get to & from the stations.

And also: suppose you did wind up saving energy, but at the expense of a wasted half hour per day per person. Isn't the time of human beings worth something, too?

Jason_Pappas said...

Saudi Arabia will sell oil into the market regardless of whether we buy it or not. The economics of oil doesn’t change if we buy oil from other producers—it only shuffles the consumer/producer pairings. It would take a boycott of Saudi Arabia to hurt them financially and we know from Saddam how hard it is to enforce such a boycott even with nominal agreement from other nations around the world.

Yet, I advocate total cessation of political and economic relations with Saudi Arabia. In this link, I explain why it is feasible and, more importantly, the correct ethical policy. See if I convince you.

ik said...

Here's a different point of view

Okay so we keep buying oil. Now the point is how do we reduce the price of oil or cap it so that the Saudi's make _LESS_ money for the same amount of oil?

1. The entire Nazi war machine (as far as I know) was being run for several years on oil produced by coal gasification. From what I read oil produced from coal gasification costs about $35/ barrel (let us say amount $x). The apparent reason no one sets up a new coal gasification plant is that no one can guarantee that the cost of oil will remain above the $x mark over the life of the plant. If a couple of large plants are built then it would cap the price of oil at $x - anytime OPEC tries to raise the price above $x we raise production and pump in more to bring the price down.

The amount of money saved by capping the price at some upper limit would pay for the cost of the coal gasification plant.

1-2 plants/per country and we set a upper limit for the price of oil and make sure that the Saudi's do not make money at $65/barrel

Does this sound right or am I missing something obvious?

linearthinker said...

ik,
Assuming your $/barrel is in the ballpark, your idea sounds good.

What's missing? Overcoming the factor that's held back our energy independence for decades, the strangle hold of the environmental left on any energy development, whether it's nucular, oil shale, coastal drilling, refinery construction, or developing ANWR.

I like the concept of Norse law imposed by viking terrorism. I can always scrape the lutefisk onto the floor when the zealots aren't lookin', and then head for the sauna...after I throw more wood on the fire (in defiance of our local and state air resources boards).

linearthinker said...

ik,
After reflecting on your idea, who do you propose builds the plants? If it's some new gov't super energy agency, ala TVA or the Manhatten Project, forget it. I'll wait for the market to draw the capitalists, and in the meantime I'll do what can be done to remove the artificial barriers to development.

jason_pappas,
You've convinced me, but you're preachin' to the choir.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed we're not as dependent on Saudi bases as we were in, say, 2002? If Harvard and Georgetown can't resist Saudi largess, does anyone think Hillary would find her moral compass in dealing with them? With the softspoken brothers Zogby whispering in her ear?

Epaminondas said...

Yah jason ...I have long wished for a complete break with these freaks from the Najd.

I really can't tell you if what they believe IS Islam or if there is such a thing as moderate islam (doubt it)and IT DOESN'T MATTER.

We know what the Al Saud publish in the mosque they have penetrated with teir money, and that they do not mean us well.

What are we waiting for?

Is it corp contributions from Mobil/Exxon et al to Repubs and dems?
Is it fear? Stupidity?

This and the borders have me positively stumped for the lack of action when the requirements of reality are crystal clear.

Jason_Pappas said...

Sometimes the choir needs a good sermon, to keep the faith! ;) Of course, the average American doesn’t understand the Islamic threat and the leading role that the Saudi clan plays in spreading the virus. I believe that the average American is suspicious and open to our message but the mainstream media won’t let it get through.

On my way to work I heard the most puerile Dhimmi pro-Islamic propaganda on the radio (the cab driver was tuned to NPR.) James Reston, Jr. was whining about how Rumsfeld used the word Caliphate to describe the goals of Jihadists. Reston complained that Rummy insulted Muslims and denigrated that honorable institution, the Caliphate.

I asked the cab driver, who I suspect is Muslim, what he thought of Reston’s “essay.” He said, “I can’t talk while I’m driving.” That’s the first time I’ve heard that—especially since they are generally talking on the cell phone non-stop (which I hope is monitored!)

Uncle Pavian said...

Lutefisk? Be happy it wasn't the Swedes.

Mmm...surstromming...

unaha-closp said...

Jason,
They are large customers of American products and services. Diplomatic sanctions will hurt America by making them look elsewhere to make these purchases. Why harm yourselves?

America is very strong, they are very weak. Just tell them what to do and they will do it - employ a sufficient threat to motivate them. That way you maintain them as a customer and they stop harming you.

Jason_Pappas said...

And if we asked they to stop preaching hate, i.e. Islam, will they do it? Sometimes you have to take a moral stand against the vicious, hate-filled, movement that’s spreading around the world. In my article, I argue our disassociation will have little economic impact in the long run for us and them. It is a change in moral posture that will strengthen our will, free our minds, and enable greater intellectual and moral clarity. Honesty and morality have instrumental purposes but they are, first and foremost, character building. And by so being they increase our capacity to act wisely and powerfully going forward as we face life’s challenges.

It’s interesting how many people miss my emphasis. It’s my fault for the most part because I’m saying something in a manner not often seen today. I may have to write about this but the feedback I’m getting so far is enlightening.

Dymphna said...

Jason Pappas--

The moral element is the one we need to work on. Get the dhimmitude makers under more control and we'll have more gumption to go for the harder things. However, here we run into freedom of speech issues and it's time to declare war on this issue so that calling for American under Islam is termed sedition.

A blogger I read today is considering getting up a petition to bring a class-action suit against the NYTimes for treason or some such. When I have more info, I'll post on it...but getting the MSM curtailed would be a beginning.

Sissy Willis said...

As the proprietress of the blog sisu, I must protest: The sauna is a Finnish instutution! :)

Sissy Willis said...

. . . institution, that is . . .

Baron Bodissey said...

Ms. Sissy,

As an ignorant and parochial American, I say: Finns, Norse, same thing. They're all Scandinavians, right?

But seriously: are you telling me that there are no saunas in Norway? I know they have them in Sweden, because I saw them in a Bergman movie.

Jason_Pappas said...

I knew the “moral argument” would be appreciated on this venue. (Unaha and I have had a minor debate on this matter strewed across several blogs.)

That’s what I think is missing: moral righteousness, making moral demands appropriate to the gravity of the situation, and making the moral judgments of those who have deviated from the being the loyal opposition by a distance by a miles.

It’s funny that you mention treason. Yesterday, I was just telling my wife how, when Coulter’s book of that name was published, many yelled it was a hyped-up over-reaction; but it appears more level-headed everyday that passes.

Keep up the good work, D & BB.

unaha-closp said...

Jason,
Have posted a reply on your linked "my article" outlining the opposition to a boycott.

Rev Sam said...

Long time reader of the blog, first time posting. In considering the question of Saudi Oil - and all the knock-on effects for their support for jihad etc, as financed by the purchase of SUVs - you really do need to have a look at Matthew Simmons' research, and the implications of what he is saying. You might find it of interest. See here.