Understanding About 9-11
COLUMN: IS THE EMPIRE
-- A Response to the Naysayers
Dale Allen Pfeiffer, FTW Contributing Editor
[© Copyright 2002, From The Wilderness Publications,
www.copvcia.com. All Rights Reserved. May be
recopied, distributed or posted on the worldwide web for
non-profit purposes only.]
[Recently a schism has revealed itself within the community
of activists seeking real answers about the events of
9-11 and since. Some critics, like Jared Israel of the
Emperor's Clothes, have taken to personal and public
attacks on those who are steadfastly attempting to raise
public awareness that the planet is running out of oil
and the consequences may be devastating. This scenario,
based upon the so-called "Hubbert Peak" of
oil production, constitutes significant part of a credible
canvass upon which many other motives for "a war
that will not end in our lifetimes" can be painted.
FTW's Dale Allen Pfeiffer now responds to
Mr. Israel and those who are drawing attention away from
We note the irony in a recent statement made by the new Afghan
Ambassador to Washington, Ishaq Shahryar, who was the
subject of a July 7, 2002 L.A. Times story which said,
"Already the U.S. Geological Survey is mapping out
Afghanistan's extensive natural resources and so
many businessmen are pouring into Kabul it is reminiscent
of the California Gold Rush, Shahryar said." The
irony lies in the fact that Shahryar, who gave up his
US citizenship to become Ambassador, was a pioneer of
solar energy research in the 1970s and 80s. - MCR, Aug.
Aug. 8, 2002,
1630 hrs. (FTW) - I have refrained from entering into the oil vs. containment
debate because I felt that an argument about motive would
detract from the focus upon U.S. government culpability
in the 9-11 attacks and the subsequent "War on Terrorism."
However, I cannot hold my tongue now that it has been
implied war-for-oil proponents are all "a loyal
opposition set up to control the alternative narrative
and keep people distracted," according to one critic.
As a testimony to my own unremitting opposition to the
government and the elite it serves, I refer the reader
to a piece I wrote titled "My Country Tis of Thee."
This article is a scalding indictment demonstrating that
the U.S. government has never been about the values of
democracy and human rights, and the myth of the U.S. is
very far from the truth. I am nobody's puppet.
As a scientist, I am always interested in looking at evidence
that might disprove any hypothesis upon which I might
be working. In this case, I have looked at all the arguments
against the oil motive and have found that none of them,
separately or in total, are sufficient to disprove this
hypothesis. Furthermore, the energy depletion scenario
is based upon exhaustive scientific studies, which have
in fact been reviled by the U.S. government, the elite,
and leading economists. This is a scenario that they do
not want the public to know about.
These two motives have been posed as though they are in opposition.
In fact, they are not. Neither I nor anyone else that
I am aware of has made such a statement. When a power
like the U.S. government takes action, there is always
a confluence of motives behind such action. I am sure
that one benefit of the Balkan and Afghan wars is the
establishment of a military presence curtaining Russia.
However, this does not detract from the importance of oil.
In fact, should we ever reach a time when the major powers
are starved of energy, then such a military curtain would
be strategically essential to prevent either Russia or
China from making a grab for the Middle East.
Yet there are other strategic targets that are not fully
explained by the containment alone hypothesis. Why the
U.S. military presence in the Philippines? Why the strong
interest in Indonesia and Timor? And why the renewed interest
in Somalia and Yemen? Opponents can state that the Philippines
and Indonesia/Timor are necessary to contain China. But
it just so happens that the Philippines dominates the
oil shipping lanes from the Middle East to the U.S., and
Indonesia/Timor is suspected to contain reserves of oil
and natural gas.
And then there is Somalia. What strategic goal towards containment
do Somalia and Yemen hold? None, yet these countries do
control both sides of the Gulf of Aden and the mouth of
the Red Sea, an important shipping channel for oil.
If the containment theory is weak with regard to these areas
then what of South America, what of Colombia and Venezuela?
The Bush Administration is quite concerned with both of
these countries. In Colombia, the Bush Administration
has baldly stated that it considers the FARC (the rebel
resistance) to be terrorists, and the U.S. should take
an active role in guarding Colombian oil pipelines. Then
there was April's attempted coup in Venezuela, and
the hints from U.S. officials that President Hugo Chavez
and his administration could be viewed as terrorist sympathizers.
Beyond this we have Iraq and Iran, two members of Bush's
evil triumvirate. Between them, both countries hold a
large portion of the remaining energy resources in the
Middle East. And I am certain that the U.S. aims to take
full control of these resources before the approaching
decline of world oil production.
Then what of Russia and China -- if containment is a readily
apparent goal, why are they not responding? Despite some
ineffective saber rattling, both countries seem very eager
to appease the U.S., particularly Russia. The U.S. has
already made a conquest of Russia in the decade after
the fall of the Berlin Wall. We have drained the country
economically and have drained its labor force of the brightest
and best-educated people.
Russia is now almost completely dependent on the U.S. During
the Afghan war late last year, oil prices were held down
because Russia opened up the pumps on its own reserves.
Likewise last spring, when Iraq tried to interest the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in an oil
embargo against the U.S., Russia once again opened up
its oil production to full throttle. This would seem to
suggest that Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin
have some sort of understanding.
As for China, it is sufficient to note that in the wake of
9-11, Bush quickly pressed through China's entrance into
the World Trade Organization. China is supposed to be
the next big pie for international corporations, yet there
is a concern about China other than Communism or imperialistic
greed. Along with India, China is expected to be the big
growth market in demand for oil. Chinese energy demand
is projected to grow so tremendously in the next decade
that it could crowd the rest of the world out of the energy
market. Now this is a serious threat to the U.S., both
socially and economically. At present China is going along
with the U.S., but the two are bound to lock horns eventually
due to competing energy demand.
Does all of this sound as though containment is the premiere
issue in U.S. foreign affairs?
the End Game
Normally, I would not waste time and effort arguing about
the motives behind the War on Terrorism -- what is most
important is that we fight against this War on
Terrorism. However, there is a lot more at stake here
than simply greedy imperialism. The U.S. empire and modern
civilization are all made possible by oil. Without it
our technology would never have grown beyond coal-based
industrialism. Furthermore, there are no alternative energy
sources, which, considered separately or in total, can
replace oil and natural gas.
As oil and natural gas production decline, so will the economy
and our technological civilization. Without oil and natural
gas modern agriculture will fail, and people will starve.
Without oil and natural gas, industry will grind to a
halt, transportation will be grounded, and people in northern
climes will freeze in the winter.
Scientist Richard Duncan has created a model that has so
far gone unrefuted. His model states that technological
civilization cannot outlast its resource base, particularly
its energy resource base. Once this resource base is exhausted,
technological civilization will be forever beyond the
grasp of life on a particular planet. Duncan makes his
model readily available to anyone who wishes to test it
in the hope that someone will be able to successfully
refute the model. To date, no one has done so. (See "The
Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to Olduvai Gorge"
You see, there is a lot more at stake here than just a continuation
of the Cold War or U.S. imperialistic greed. There is
enough energy remaining in the world right now for us
-- the people -- to take control and ease ourselves into
a democratic, egalitarian, stable-state society. Or there
is enough energy for the elite to build a feudalistic,
fascist, police state with themselves at the top. This
is the choice facing us right now, and this is what is
truly at stake.
Okay, opponents can put out powerful arguments favoring the
containment theory and disparaging energy depletion, and
I can put out powerful arguments favoring energy depletion
and disparaging containment. Only time will tell definitively
who is right. But we do not have to wait for time to tell
us which side of the argument is correct. What we can
do is choose right now which theory would be most beneficial
to act upon. All we need to do is an exercise in risk
Without arguing about who is right, let's simply look at
the results if we take the containment theory to be correct,
and it turns out to be wrong. Then let us do the same
with the energy depletion theory.
If we proceed on the assumption that the War on Terrorism
is all about containment, then we will focus our efforts
on peace activism. We will attempt to wake people up to
the greedy imperialism that lies behind these military
exercises, and we will attempt to bring to public light
the truth of U.S. complicity in the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Hopefully, we will succeed in these goals.
However, if it turns out that energy depletion is a serious
problem, then we will at best be unprepared. Our economy
will collapse, and our technology will fail. We will face
massive starvation and upheaval, and sink into a morass
from which humankind may never emerge. Or we will emerge
from a dieoff of humanity as serfs and slaves to a few
elite masters -- not a very pretty picture.
Now if we proceed on the assumption that the War on Terrorism
is all about energy depletion, we will still focus our
immediate efforts on peace activism. We will still attempt
to wake people up to the evils of U.S. policy and the
elite behind it, and hopefully we will succeed in these
goals. Beyond this, we will begin focusing on the transition
to a democratic, egalitarian, stable-state society.
If it turns out that energy depletion is not a serious problem
and all of this was really about containment, no damage
will have been done. At worst, we will have sacrificed
some of our time and effort to become more independent
of oil and natural gas. At best, we will have a society
that is a little more democratic, a little more egalitarian,
and a little more sufficient.
Now, which of these is the better choice?
Faced with everything I have presented above, I must ask
why containment proponents are so strong in condemning
the oil motive? It would almost seem that they
are trying "to control the alternative narrative
and keep people distracted."
[Dale Allen Pfeiffer is a geologist and published author.
He can be reached at: