World civilization is based on oil. The world is running out of oil. The oil companies and governments are not telling the truth about how close we are to the end. Dick Cheney knew about peak oil back in 1999 when he spoke to the London Petroleum Institute as Halliburton CEO. He predicted it would come in 2010. After that it's just a matter of years before it runs out. Whoever controls the remaining oil determines who lives and who dies.
Sixty percent of this oil is under a triangular area of the Middle East the size of Kansas. In that speech Cheney said: "The Middle East with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."
This small Middle East triangle encompasses the northeast of Saudi Arabia, all of Iraq and the southwestern part of Iran, along with Kuwait, Qatar and the Emirates. The US controls Iraq. It has friendly governments in the other states.
Iran is the exception. The US now surrounds Iran.
Controlling an area the size of Kansas shouldn't be a problem for the U.S. military, except that it is heavily populated and many people in the triangle don't want the Americans there and are willing to fight.
It's been known for at least thirty years that America needs alternative energy sources. But instead of an alternative energy plan we got the invasion of Iraq by oilmen wedded to a dying business, willing to kill hundreds of thousands to cling to the last drop. The US is never leaving the region or withdrawing from Iraq. McCain is right about staying, but 100 years is too long. The oil won't last that long.
Iran is next. Lieberman set up Petraeus to testify last week that Iranian-backed groups are murdering hundreds of American servicemen in Iraq. On Friday Gates called Iran's influence in Iraq "malign" and Bush said if Iran keeps meddling in Iraq "then we'll deal with them." They are building their case for war with resolutions in the Senate and at the UN. It's only western Iran, from the Iraq border to 150 miles inside the country that the U.S. will have to occupy. That's where Iran's oil is. But the U.S. will have a nasty battle on their hands in Iran even if they restore a Shah-like puppet in Tehran 30 years after the revolution.
The Saudis would not mind seeing the Iranian regime go. But the Saudis may also be on the list. The US may have to destabilize and control Saudi Arabia some day too. The Wall Street Journal a few years ago revealed that in the 1970s under Nixon, Kissinger had plans drawn up for the US invasion and occupation of the Saudi oil fields. Those plans can be dusted off.
The American oil wars are being launched out of weakness, not strength. The American economy is teetering and without control of the remaining oil it will collapse. There will be massive chaos in any case, when only enough oil remains for the American elite and whomever they choose to share it with.
That will leave an oil-starved China and India, both with nuclear weapons, with no alternative but to bow to America or go to war.
It's not about greed any more. It's about survival. Because the leadership of this country was initially too greedy to switch from oil to solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable alternatives, it may now be too late. Had the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the invasion and occupation of Iraq been put into alternative energy the world might have had a fighting chance. Now that is far from certain.
What is certain is that these wars are not about democracy. They are not about WMD. The coming one will not even be about Iran's nuclear weapons project. It's about the oil, stupid. Joe Lauria is a New York-based investigative journalist. A freelance member of the Sunday Times of London Insight team, he has also worked on investigations for the Boston Globe and Bloomberg News.
© 2008 The Huffington Post