TEHRAN, May 2 (MNA) -- “Last year, oil cost a king’s ransom. This year, it’s relatively cheap. But don’t be fooled. Price isn’t the point here. Like it or not, energy is still what everyone who’s anyone wants to get their hands on,” says Brazilian journalist and author Pepe Escobar.

It was about oil. It is about oil, and, for the foreseeable future, it will be about oil.


How long has it been about oil? At least since a young British naval officer named Winston Churchill realized it would be more efficient to fuel battleships with oil than with coal. But switching from coal to oil presented logistics problems. 


Britain had ample coal but no oil reserves. So, in order to secure a supply, the government bought 51% of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s stock. In 1914, the United States followed Britain’s lead. By World War II, every colonial power had converted its navy to oil, thus setting the stage for the exploitation of Iran and the rest of the Middle East.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was formed on June 15, 2001 by China and Russia in response to aggressive U.S. energy moves in Central Asia. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are the other member states. Iran is an observer state along with Mongolia and U.S. “allies” Pakistan and India. 


Among the goals of the SCO are “making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, moving towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.” Efforts for peace, security and stability? When translated into Washington’s bellicose foreign policy discourse, these admirable goals are rendered as “a cascade of instability”.


The fact that Iran will probably soon be a full member of the SCO helps explain why it remains a target on the U.S.-Israeli radar screen. Iran a nuclear threat? Hardly. Iran a supporter of international terrorism? Forget it! The real threat is that Iran has become a key player in the global energy war being fought by Eurasian “upstarts” against the U.S. oil empire.


Of course, the Israelis, finding themselves short of energy, have long since cast their fate with the U.S. and, in so doing, are first in line to frame their energy resource wars in terms of “threats” by Iran. A recent report entitled “A Cascade of Instability” published by the right-wing Washington Institute illustrates a typical oil war marketing ploy.


“Preventing Iran’s acquisition or development of a military nuclear capability is therefore a vital national priority. To that end, the United States should strengthen its policies to prevent, mitigate, or counteract cascading instability resulting from Iranian nuclear progress,” the report said.


Disguising an oil war as a response to a nonexistent threat is nothing new. The U.S.-backed CIA overthrow of the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953 had nothing to do with countering a threat of Communism and everything to do with oil. Prime Minister Mosaddeq had convinced the Iranian Majlis to vote to nationalize the highly profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company with its huge refinery at Abadan and thus end foreign control of Iranian oil resources.  


How profitable was Anglo-Iranian Oil? According to a U.S. State Department source, the company sold its oil for ten to thirty times the cost of producing it. How hypocritical were the British? The British Parliament was itself in the process of nationalizing key industries such as coal, steel, railroads, and utilities.


With their greed exposed, the British had no choice but to present their case for regime replacement to an all-too-enthusiastic but fledgling CIA as protecting Western interests in Iran against a Communist threat. In truth, the British feared that yielding to Iranian demands would encourage democratic nationalist movements in other colonial regimes and lead to a “cascade of instability” in the oil-rich Middle East.


As oil reserves began to diminish, the United States again followed the British lead and launched its own series of oil wars with the goal of establishing its own energy security, culminating in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. These oil wars enabled the U.S. to gain control of perhaps 25% of the world’s energy deposits and have created a worldwide cascade of instability in their wake. The pretexts and policies justifying the use of U.S. lethal force in their execution would most accurately be described as a “cascade of insanity”.

As a result, a global cascade of instabilities has been set in motion by this ongoing cascade of insanity; political instability resulting directly from the oil wars themselves, economic instability due to the unscrupulous schemes to finance these wars, and global climate instability resulting from the profligate consumption of the oil itself.


And now, in furtherance of these oil wars, President Obama has added his own personal contribution to the “cascade of insanity”. In justifying a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, President Obama stated, “And if the Afghan government falls to the Taleban, or allows Al-Qaeda to go unchallenged -- that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” Of course, no mention is made of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline route the oil war “surge” is attempting to secure.


So what can be done to counter this cascade of insanity? We can demand that U.S. leaders engage in some clear-headed thinking about the consequences of continuing their current policies. If we do not challenge the cascade of insanity, the cascade of instabilities -- political instability, economic collapse, and accelerating global climate change -- will cause a tsunami of devastation, exceeding that of the current U.S. oil wars.


(May 2 Tehran Times Opinion Column, by Yuram Abdullah Weiler)





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