Imperial Candor  

Posted by Big Gav

Another quiet night for me - I think Peak Energy will be taking a break shortly to recharge the batteries.

Seemingly the most blogged item of the day is the talk given by Larry Wilkerson (Colin Powell's chief of staff) at the New America Foundation on Wednesday. I'll let Billmon provide the commentary on the energy related parts.

There is some truly scary stuff in there -- going way beyond the "cabal" comment that's been the soundbite of choice for the corporate media. Like this rather ominous look at the real U.S. energy plan:
We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly. That’s how serious we thought about it. We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly.

Wilkerson isn't specific about the timing, so he may be referring the contingency planning that was ordered up by Kissinger and DoD Secretary James "cover up" Schlesinger during the 1973 oil embargo. But it sounds a good deal more recent to me -- I don't remember anything in the '73 about a U.N. fig leaf . . . I mean, a U.N. trusteeship.

To my admittedly jaundiced eye, this would appear to be planning for aggressive war -- without even the notional justification of weapons of mass destruction, pre-emption, etc. The fact that it's almost as hairbrained a scheme as the invasion of Iraq, politically if not militarily (a U.N. endorsed version of Lebensraum??) isn't much comfort. If that's what the "good guys" -- i.e. the realists -- talk about behind closed doors, then what's the diffference between them and the neocons, other than the fact that the realists have fewer principles?

Actually, there is another difference: The realists aren't stone crazy. Another tale that Wilkerson tells out of school concerns just how close the neocons came to starting the second Korean War -- and probably would have, too, if not for a very unlikely dove:
I haven’t heard anyone lately saying they want a war with North Korea . . . And the president was wonderful in that regard during some very tense deliberations over North Korea. He essentially put his foot down: 'I do not want a war on the Korean peninsula.' And that was very helpful . . . It didn’t help us open negotiations, but it did help us fight off some other less desirable results.

The inhabitants of Greater Seoul should be happy to hear that, too -- since their charred corpses could easily have been one of those "less desirable" results. Something tells me that no matter how insane we may think the members of the "cabal" are, we don't know the half of it.


Like Richard Clarke, Wilkerson strikes me as reasonably representative of the technicians who actually run the empire -- and his assumptions largely appear to reflect those of his class. American supremecy is a taken as a given, requiring no legal or moral justification. Not because America has any grand historical mission to spread the blessings of democracy to the heathen, but because American power maintains the world order and keeps the peace, or at least something approximating it. It also keeps the sea lanes open and the oil flowing and the wheels of industry turning, not just here but around the world.

It does appear to have dawned on Wilkerson that the U.S. hegomony isn't viewed as quite such an execise in utilitarian benevolance by the rest of the world, but I'm not sure he understands exactly why this is. I think he puts far too much blame on the cabal's shenanigans -- although these admittedly have made things worse -- and not enough on the fact that empires, even the practical, no nonsense type favored by the realists, are anachronisms in the modern world.

It's very late now, and I'm going to have to leave it at that. I'll try to flesh out some more of the implicatiions of Wilkerson's rant tomorrow. But you should go read it for yourself -- you'll rarely see the bureaucratic warfare between the neocons and the realists (and the growing crisis in U.S. imperial strategy that it reflects) exposed so clearly.

If the realists win out will they actually understand how to deal with the root cause of the problem ? Or will they just find themselves unhappily following the neocon's bad example as we all slide down the peak in a state of perpetual military confrontation ?


It would be a well deserved break I believe. In my opinion, your blog is the best peak oil (and other global mishaps) commentary around.

Thanks for all your hard work!

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