Interventions 'r' US
Dale Allen Pfeiffer, FTW Contributing
Editor for Energy
Note: Remember the cardinal rule: Since the Second
World War oil
prices spikes have invariably led to recession. Recessions
are a way of curbing demand for oil. Unemployed people
buy less gasoline. And recessions never hurt the
rich; only the middle classes and the poor. - MCR]
[© Copyright, 2002, From The Wilderness
Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All rights reserved.
May be copied, distributed or posted on the Internet for non-profit purposes
30, 2002, 15:00 PST (FTW) -- Who is the United States' number one opponent
in its quest for imperialism? Forget about Osama Bin
Laden, George Dubya certainly has. And don't fret about
Saddam Hussein, he is simply an excuse for intervention.
Never mind looking down the road to see when Russia
or China will step into the fray. Our no. 1 opposition
is a business cartel with the power to strangle the
U.S. economically. As global oil production begins
to decline, OPEC could become the most powerful organization
on the planet, providing that George Dubya Bush does
not smash it first.
Taking over Iraq and placing
the Saudi oil fields under U.S. protection would break
OPEC and establish the U.S. as the premier energy broker
in the declining days of oil. And the Bush Administration
has been very eager to do just this, though it is attempting
to keep the international community appeased while
making this power play. Now, however, the Iraq invasion
is likely to be delayed until we have reined in another
OPEC member much closer to home.
oil industry in Venezuela has been idled by its upper
management, as part of
a supposed general strike intended to topple the Chavez
government. This is a strike of the rich, and the vast
majority of Venezuelans are not supporting it. (1)
The strike is a failure in every other respect but
for the critical shutting down of oil exports. In this
crucial industry, which provides most of Venezuela's
wealth, the lockout has cut oil exports to a trickle.
is the fifth biggest oil producer in the world, and
is the third
largest supplier to the U.S., exporting oil to this
country at the rate of 1.5 million bpd. (2) Venezuela's
oil production has dropped from just under 3 million
bpd to barely more than 825,000 bpd. Little more than
one month ago Venezuela was supplying one out of every
ten barrels of oil that the U.S. consumed. (3) Now
the country is having troubles just meeting its own
oil demands. In fact, Venezuela has resorted to the
short term importation of refined gasoline to keep
its economy moving.
President Hugo Chavez has called for the military
to intervene in
the oil lock out, echoing President Reagan's actions
in the air traffic controllers' strike. And the military
has acted to take control of a few of the idled tankers.
But production and shipping are still down to a trickle
of what they once were. The Supreme Court issued a
temporary ruling ordering the striking employees back
to work, but production remains stifled as oil executives
continue their defiance. (4)
President Chavez will
have to end this strike soon and bring production back
to normal levels, and do so without giving the U.S.
cause to intervene. The longer this strike goes on,
the longer it will take to get production back in order
once the strike has ended.
The Venezuelan strike
has already sent up oil prices. In the U.S., oil has
already gone to over $32 per barrel, with prices rising
at the pump as a result. (5) If the strike continues,
oil prices will continue to climb.
Look for the price climb
to be led by Citgo Petroleum Corporation, which is
owned by a subsidiary of Venezuelan PDVSA. Citgo is
buying crude on the open market, but their refineries
are geared for the heavy Venezuelan crude, and their
production is being affected by the strike. Many other
Gulf Coast refiners are also feeling the loss. (6)
Already faced with possible
natural gas price spikes if this is a cold winter,
we are also going to see the price of gasoline rise.
Either one could be fatal for our ailing economy.
Dubya doesn't seem
too concerned about the U.S. economy, the oil strike
in Venezuela could upset his plans for Iraq. Former
Venezuelan energy minister Calderon Berti said that
if both the Venezuelan and Iraqi oil supplies were
cut off, oil prices would soar to over $40 per barrel.
(7) Before Dubya can attack Iraq, he needs to secure
the Venezuelan oil supply.
this reason, the U.S. may sponsor a coup in Venezuela
within the next month
or so. And this is what the strikers want. Their goal
is to disrupt Venezuela's economy until the military
has to intervene against President Chavez. This strike
was choreographed by experienced coup plotters in the
U.S. The unions behind the strike, and the corporate
media who have lied about it are financially tied to
the National Endowment for Democracy, which is a cover
for CIA financing. (8)
Reich of the State Department and Elliott Abrams
of the National Security
Council are overseeing the efforts to install a more
compliant regime in Caracas. Both men are veterans
of the contra war against Nicaragua. It is their plan
to destabilize the country and then aid a military
coup. They had hoped to pull off this coup months ago,
but had not reckoned on Chavez's popularity with the
vast majority of the population. Since then, they have
been trying to erode that popularity while attempting
to turn the military against Chavez.
that their plans have come to impede the invasion
of Iraq and threaten the
U.S. economy, Abrams and Reich will be urged to either
bring their plans to fruition or allow somebody else
to broker a settlement with Chavez. And there are other
urgent deadlines in imposing a diplomatic junta on
Venezuela. Jan. 1, Brazil will inaugurate Lula da Silva
as president, and ten days later Ecuador will inaugurate
Colonel Lucio GutiŽrrez. These men will provide a left-leaning
block that could act in opposition to Washington's
plans for the region. And perhaps most importantly,
the Hydrogen Law will take effect on Jan. 1, giving
Chavez the tools he needs to reform the state-owned
oil industry. (9) The Hydrogen Law is a piece
of Venezuelan legislation which will socialize more
of the profits of the oil business and keep them in
Venezuela for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.
This is perhaps the single most important issue for
Chavez's opponents both at home and abroad.
For all of these reasons,
for the U.S. economy, and for the invasion of Iraq,
Washington is going to seek a quick resolution to the
OPEC may actually step
in to help lower oil prices, should the current situation
go on for too long. To extract the maximum profit without
putting too much stress upon the world economy, OPEC
has a target range for oil prices of between $22 and
$28 a barrel. Below that price, OPEC members lose their
profits, and above that price, the market begins to
dry up. Within OPEC there is an agreement to step up
production if the price of oil stays above $28 per
barrel for 20 consecutive days. (10) Let us not forget,
however, that while it only takes five days for a shipment
of Venezuelan crude to reach the U.S., it takes five
weeks for a shipment of Middle East crude to reach
the U.S. Any relief from the Middle East will be delayed
by over a month.
there are those who wonder if OPEC has the spare
capacity to cover Venezuela's
3 million bpd. Virtually all OPEC countries are currently
pumping in excess of their quotas. However, the current
oil production is barely enough to stabilize the market.
(11) This question of spare capacity will become increasingly
important in the years ahead. The amount of oil in
the ground does not matter if you are pumping as much
as you possibly can through all of the wells in operation.
the question of production capacity, is it in OPEC's
best interest to aid the U.S. in the military domination
member states? It must be obvious to members of the
cartel that the U.S. seeks to undermine their power
and take over control of the planets remaining hydrocarbon
can OPEC stand aside and do nothing while the U.S.
stages coups in Venezuela,
prepares to invade Iraq, and vilifies Saudi Arabia
while eyeing that country's oil deposits? Certainly,
the economic weapon which OPEC wields is a two-edged
sword, but if you are fighting a war, then you must
expect to make sacrifices. However, before OPEC will
become a fighting machine, it needs a leader who can
bring all of the member nations to see that they are
in fact at war with the United States. And that will
be a tough chore.
OPEC will wake up in time. But it is just possible
that the U.S. could
be in control of a major portion of the world's remaining
oil supplies when OPEC finally does wake up.
If the U.S. can back a
successful coup in Venezuela and take Iraq quickly,
Washington will be in a very powerful position and
will rule a global empire for some time to come. And
this prospect seems quite imminent to those who are
calling the shots in Washington.
On the other hand, if
operations become bogged down in either Venezuela or
Iraq, the result could very well be the ruination of
U.S. dreams of global imperialism. In Venezuela, if
Chavez retains the backing of a major segment of the
population and the military, then we could see a bloody
civil war, which could disrupt oil supplies for some
time to come. The situation could become quite ugly
if U.S. intervention led to collaboration between Pro-Chavez
forces and Colombian rebels. We could easily find ourselves
in a regional conflict that could make Vietnam look
like a Sunday picnic.
Likewise, if Saddam Hussein
prepares his nation for urban guerrilla fighting, then
we could find ourselves fighting a war of attrition
in the Middle East. In this case, the extended warfare
in oil producing regions could precipitate a global
economic meltdown, for which the U.S. would be entirely
For the moment, keep your
eye on Venezuela. The situation there must be resolved
before Bush invades Iraq. President Chavez is an amazing
man, and with the full support of the people, he has
thwarted several attempts to unseat him, just in this
past year alone. He has also won six elections in the
last four years. Hugo Chavez may retain his presidency
long enough to see George W. Bush lose his.
1. Chronology of the Strike that Wasn't, Al Giordano.
Dec. 22, 2002; Issue #26, Narconews, http://www.narconews.com/Issue26/article571.html
2. PDVSA Strike to Endanger Chavez, Raise U.S. Gas Prices.
Dec. 6, 2002; Stratfor.com. Stratfor http://www.stratfor.biz/Story.neo?storyId=207976
3. DJ. ENERGY MATTERS: OPEC Rides High As Chavez Sits
Tight, David Byrd. Dec. 18, 2002; Dow Jones Newswires
4. Venezuela Oil Strike Continues Despite Ruling. Dec.
20, 2002; Reuters. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16998-2002Dec20.html
5. Venezuelan Strike Lifts Oil Prices. Dec. 16, 2002;
6. Impact of Venezuelan Oil Strikes beginning to Flow
into Houston, Monica Perin. Dec. 13, 2002; Houston
Business Journal. http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2002/12/16/story7.html
7. Washington Maneuvers Toward Venezuelan Coup, Bill
Vann. Dec. 19, 2002. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/dec2002/vene-d19.shtml
8. Venezuela: Is the CIA preparing another coup?, Bill
Vann. Dec. 11, 2002. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/dec2002/vene-d11.shtml
9. White House Venezuela Error Backfires, Al Giordano.
Dec. 16, 2002; Narconews. http://www.narconews.com/Issue26/article565.html
10. OPEC foreshadows action to lower oil prices. Dec.
23, 2002. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/12/22/1040510962248.html
11. U.S. seems ready to undermine world economy and political
system. Nov. 13, 2002; Vol. 7, Issue 22. http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntn24669.htm