Debating A Neocon  

Posted by Big Gav

Last post for the night - a speech from last year by Stan Goff that he made during a debate with Patrick Clawson.

Just in case there is a temptation to resort to red-baiting to avoid responding to the content of my arguments, let me save you the trouble. I am on record as a severe critic of capitalism as an inherently destructive system built on genocide and slavery, sustained by misogyny, racism, poverty, and war, and bound to undermine its own material basis through ecocide. I do not, however, believe as some leftists seem to, that a more sensible system will inevitably replace it. If progressives continue to whine and wring their hands instead of fighting back, we could very well end up with a century or so of anarchy and warlords in the context of a mass human die-off on a ruined and toxified planet.

Present-day imperialism is a real system, and it is currently directed by the American state. The war in Iraq was probably the inevitable action of this state in response to an impending and inexorable erosion of the very basis of American global power. The war in Iraq, while deeply morally repugnant, is not a failure of morality, but the action of a system that can't help it, because like the scorpion, it is that system's nature.

Republicans and Democrats can't tell you this. Pacifists and most true religious believers won't tell you this. Politicians, who will tell you only what you want to hear, won't tell you this. But I believe that it is irresponsible to delay telling the patient who will die of gangrene the unpleasant fact that the leg must be amputated.

Global capitalism runs on fossil energy, but the United States does not have to take oil from anyone. Every oil producing nation, including Iraq, has been perfectly willing to sell oil to the United States. It is cheaper to buy oil that it is to steal it with military action. The issue of oil is an issue not of production but of increasing demand between competitors in a period when we have nearly reached the peak of production output.

Global demand now is at 79.5 million barrels of oil a day. The International Energy Agency and the Department of Energy predict global demand of 115 mbd by 2020, but that is based on demand rising at 1-1.25% per year. In fact, demand is rising at twice that rate. Yet industry experts who are not spinning figures to reassure stockholders tell us that with massive improvements in infrastructure and perfect political stability, the highest output achievable is around 85 mbd. This year, China passed Japan as the world's second largest importer of crude oil.

If anyone believes that Dick Cheney's energy task force, on which Dr. Clawson served, did not review these figures as part of their long-term strategic energy assessment and how it related to the continued possibilities for the accumulation of capital, I have a mountaintop retreat to sell you in Miami.

So the question of oil is not a question of taking it. It's the question of the mathematics of it when global capitalist competition continues to trend toward 100 mbd by the end of the decade, when there's not adequate flow pressure to meet that demand. Someone gets cut. And someone decides who gets cut. Establishing permanent military bases in the very region where over half the remaining easily accessible reserves exist goes a long way toward putting the power that controls those bases in the driver's seat. As a friend of mine once said, "Oil is not a normal commodity. No other commodity has five US Navy battle groups patrolling the sea lanes to secure it."

Iraq's pre-invasion production was around 2.5 mbd, but even with heroic effort to restore it, production has not risen above 1.8 mbd today ­ a net loss of 700,000 barrels a day ­ and the US military effort alone is calculated to have an energetic cost of 350,000 barrels a day.

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