HUGO CHAVEZ IS DEAD, LET OIL PRICES SOAR!

President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has died of cancer. There is all sorts of conflict over who will succeed him. The constitution says one thing but it is being disputed so we can look forward to some serious instability. This instability, real or perceived, will cause oil prices to rise because Venezuela is the fourth largest oil importer to the United States.

Everyone panic and fill up your gas tanks!

oil-prices-rise-EU-debt-crisis-2011

Why Iran is lost to the West.

mossadeq

Sometimes we need to stand back and look at the historical origins of current problems.

In 1953 the CIA and MI6 assassinated the democratically elected president of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh because he intended to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The coup, among other things, was and is a significant reason for regional war and fossil fuels issues. You may recognize the oil company that initiated the coup, it is now known as British Petroleum (BP).

Empire and Nationhood

  • ISBN-10: 0231108192

The sources used by Mary Ann Heiss in Empire and Nationhood are successful in providing credible background for her statements regarding British and American sentiments during the Iranian Oil dispute. The lack of sources from Iran means that it is a largely a two, instead of three sided account of the events. She creates a detailed picture of the negotiations from a western viewpoint using largely the correspondences of Great Britain and the United States while the viewpoint of the Iranians is pieced together from secondary sources and public announcements. The cultural bias of the western representatives is commented on, so although there is a record of Iranian negotiations, they are biased and often indignant descriptions by diplomats.
The overview of the Anglo-Iranian Oil crisis draws on many secondary works and a few books or articles written by people involved or living in Iran at the time. The secondary works are for the most part written by western historians whose titles do not suggest an evenly balanced perspective. For example the official history of the British Petroleum Company is cited a few times and many of the books are primarily concerned with the cold war. Iran was certainly important in the cold war but focusing on it might tend to show the perspectives of those fighting the war rather than that of Iran, which was a chess piece in the games being played between the US and the USSR.
The sources that contribute to the descriptions of the strained relations leading up to the rise of the nationalization movement and the rise of Mossadeq are a mix of British and American correspondences and books concerning the rise of Mossadeq and the political situation in Iran before him. This chapter, “too little too late” shows the greatest balance between eastern and western sources used. The difference is that the sources from the Middle Eastern perspective are written long after the events took place while correspondence on the part of the western diplomats give a more accurate sense of the feeling at the time. Authors whose names indicate Middle Eastern heritage are significant because they are referenced sparingly once Mossadeq is prime minister. This may have something to do with the secrecy Mossadeq afforded himself once in office. Also, the remainder of the book is largely an account of the negotiations between Mossadeq and representatives of England and the US. This means that presently we can look at the negotiations because there is a record of the internal consultations on the western end but we do not know the full extent of the pressure and constraints put on Mossadeq by political entities and public opinion. A dispatch from the state department to someone involved with debating Mossadeq on a key point shows the reasoning behind the American position while the reasoning behind the Iranian posture can only be guessed at.
Another reason for the one sidedness of the documentation is that for the most part, it was a Prime Minister talking to a diplomat who is already biased against the PM. Mossadeq had the power to make concessions so the political motivations behind his actions have to be derived from the situation in Iran. We have such a good record of the western motivations because American and British agents were constantly conferring with each other and their respective governments. It is unlikely that Mossadeq communicated with his advisors in writing and probably kept the details of his situation secret.
An important factor with regard to documentation that is not discussed in the book is the fact the Tehran at this time was chock full of spies. Channels of communication are never one hundred percent secure so information that was considered sensitive would be unlikely to be sent by telegraph for example. The author demonstrates the general fears of the US with regard to soviet interactions in Iran, but the specific threats, real or perceived, are not revealed. The author mentions documents relating to the MI-6 and CIA inspired coup that are withheld but only touches upon why the US thought the USSR would automatically take power in Iran if the economy were to fail. There is certainly logic behind the containment policy in Iran but because there is little mention of popular Iranian sentiment regarding communism aside from the actions of the Tudeh party, the policy seems to stem mainly from American paranoia.
The only primary sources that voice the position of Iran are the Correspondences between his/her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Persian government, and related documents (concerning the oil Industry in Persia, February 1951 to September 1951) (Concerning the joint Anglo-American proposal for a settlement of the oil dispute, August 1952 to October 1952) The problem with these sources is that they were most likely documents that could be made public and were, if it suited a political aim. Most of the negotiations were done without the public knowledge or proposals were made informally at first with the reaction often eliminating the need to present them formally. What we can see in these formal documents are the last ditch efforts by Briton to save face by standing behind proposals they knew would be rejected.
It is clear that the United States was integral in the dispute between the Iranian Government, the AIOC and the British Government but the records taken from the national Archives verses the ones taken from the Public Record Office show that the available American records are more concise and therefore less accurate. The documents from the Public Record Office in England include minutes, memorandums and other immediate sources. These kinds of sources, if unaltered, are likely to be the most accurate and the most revealing. The record of the Secretary of Defense should in contrast be far less revealing and is certainly not cited as frequently as the Foreign Office correspondence. These American sources are not likely to contain information that could be considered inflammatory. That is to say that the United States would not be likely to make information public that could add to the hatred of the US by Iran.
The author does a satisfactory job of filling in the blanks created by the lack of Iranian primary sources. She gives a reasonable assessment of the political situation in Iran based on western perceptions that were probably fairly accurate because of the strategic concerns in Iran. The memoirs of Mossadeq may have helped to explain some of the pressures he faced in Iran but even a person’s memory of their own actions cannot be trusted as fact. While the author does not attempt to analyze individual Iranian sentiment for lack of material, it would seems possible to find a primary source written by an Iranian who was not Mossadeq or the Shah. She does a good job showing the shift from British to American domination of the Iranian oil as well as their reactions to the nationalist movement.

bp

Review Bibiography

International History Review v. 21 no. 4 (Dec. 1999). Mejcher, Helmut, reviewerhttp://metaquest.bc.edu:4000/sfx_local?sid=HWW:ACIT&genre=article&pid=%3Can%3E199901501686015%3C%2Fan%3E&aulast=Amuzegar&aufirst=Jahangir&issn=0026-3141&title=The+Middle+East+Journal&stitle=Middle+East+J&atitle=Empire+and+nationhood+(Book+Review)&volume=53&issue=1&spage=138&epage=140&date=1999&ssn=winter—There was an error with the Factiva server when I tried to print this review before class but I had read it with the paper.
Diplomatic History v. 23 no. 3 (Summ 1999). Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs, reviewer. http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0145-2096&date=1999&volume=23&issue=3&spage=559

So can’t we just pipe the oil to where we need it?

 

You can do whatever you want but you might want to step back and make sure it’s a good idea.

The US is probably going to build a pipeline from Canada down to the gulf of mexico.  As you can imagine this is a source of concern for people living anywhere near this pipe.  This seems reasonable because transporting large amounts of toxic liquid great distances is inherently dangerous.  Trucks crash, boats sink, rigs explode, and pipes leak.  It is included in the cost of doing business.

Proponents argue that the project will create jobs and decrease our reliance on foreign oil.  How many and how permanent these jobs will be is still under debate.  Also we will be relying on foreign oil until it runs out or we find a cheaper alternative so I wish people would stop using that phrase.

The pipeline will be the equivalent of building a giant highway across the country that no one can drive on and poisons the drinking water.  So as of right now we will have to wait for the 2012 elections because god knows politicians can’t do ANYTHING while they are trying trick people into voting for them.

Savor your shrimp as it may be your last, Oil is the new seaweed

I have been wanting to write about the disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico but whenever I tried to learn about the impacts of the oil, the more irritated I got.

So now that I am in a more objective emotional state of mind I will try to asses the future term impacts.  This is just the start as ridiculous amounts of poison gasses liquid, and solids will be pumping into the ocean for several more months.

The oil we see washing ashore and being burnt up on top of the water is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. What is coming out of the bottom of the gulf is a diverse mixture of petroleum with different densities and thus buoyancy.  The vast majority is under the surface mingling with the fishes and shrimp.

Dispersants makes even more oil go underwater but is necessary to protect the coastlines. Either way most of the oil will collect in The Gulf and then the ocean currants will take it around the world, first the North Atlantic, then the South Atlantic, and then on to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

The politics surrounding this event are also very disconcerting. This was not a completely unanticipated event.  There has always been the possibility that offshore rigs can be compromised. It is unfortunate that is takes a real disaster to wake people up.

The best shrimp came from the Bayou but I believe those days may already be over.

The Mississippi Meets the oil

Pollution in the Charles River

chales 2

pollution

I just read a book called Zodiac by Neal Stephanson and I liked it very much mostly because it takes place in Boston, the rivers and harbor which I know quite well.

It made me realize how different things are now in terms of pollution. In the eighties even the Charles and the Inner harbor were totally toxic, and I remember seeing the remnants.

44 Pleasant street in Watertown and behind all buildings to the west of there was poison. The small waterfall directly to the east had shopping cart, plastic bags, and all sorts of unidentifiable trash. I saw a large transistor and battery once.

Me and my friends played in the extensive muck  surrounding the beginning of the smooth Charles, past the tiny waterfall in Watertown.

Creepy trees growing out of slime

All still water a magic petroleum of rainbow colors

sink to the knees take many showers

But now like many places in Boston, IE Southie and the Combat Zone, the river has been gentrified.

Rich folks lead to clean rivers and corners and I suppose it’s not a bad thing, the Charles River in Watertown smells good and in the former combat zone there is nary a hooker or coke dealer to be seen.

The point is that at least in North America (excluding Mexico) the populous seems to have a proper outrage at being poisoned and so at least on the surface, plants can grow again.

charles-river-in-watertown5

What are China’s Priorities?

There is somewhat of a standoff going on between all the countries in the world over this cap and trade emissions idea.  Most notably is the US and China as we account for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions.

So what happens if we cap our emissions and China does not?

First we should look at what China wants because this is a hard thing to pin down.  It seems clear that the people in charge in China do not put the same value on human life or quality of life.  It follows that they could really care less about the environment or it’s inhabitants and wouldn’t pursue alternative energy on the grounds it poisons the planet.

China does want to be THE new superpower in the world and if they are clever they will have figured out that long term growth will inevitably require alternative energy infrastructure.  China already has some alternative energy initiatives in place.

if we cap and they don’t we could put carbon tariffs in place but that might just lead to a large black market…

So until peak oil declines and coal reserves run out, China won’t actually cap emissions because it is a short term economic restriction. They will invest in alternative energy but like everyone else they will use fossil fuels to the bottom of the barrel.

Of course we might be told that they have capped emissions but like most regulations in China, they will go unenforced.

garbage river

Bio-Fuels are bad part 3: Ethanol

ethanol is bad

In addition to causing more green house emissions in the process of creating ethanol from corn and not getting better gas mileage, apparently ethanol causes expensive damage to engines, the fuel pump in particular.  Which makes perfect sense considering that alcohol can be corrosive to plastic and rubber.

So when you see a picture of corn on the side of the gas pump, it’s a bad sign.

Detailed Article

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