Traditionally, in Australia at least, January is, or was, the time for reruns on TV. Keeping that tradition alive, I thought I would rerun some posts on topics that never seem to lose the interest of commenters. Interestingly, the discussion seems to change quite a bit from one posting to the next, though it rarely reaches a conclusion. Anyway, here’s one from last year, linking to a piece I published in The National Interest:
Update Probably worth reading the TNI article before commenting, as lots of points commonly made in comments are anticipated there.
The Great Oil Fallacy
That’s the headline for a piece I published in The National Interest last week. Opening paras
Among the unchallenged verities of U.S. politics, the most universally accepted is that of the crucial strategic and economic significance of oil, and particularly Middle Eastern oil. On the right, the need for oil is seen as justifying an expanded and assertive military posture, as well as the removal of restrictions on domestic drilling. On the left, U.S. foreign-policy is seen through the prism of “War for Oil,” while the specter of Peak Oil threatens to bring the whole system down in ruins.
The prosaic reality is that oil is a commodity much like any other. As with every major commodity, oil markets have some special features that affect supply, demand and prices. But oil is no more special or critical than coal, gas or metals—let alone food.
This piece expands on my earlier argument that the US has no national interest at stake in the Middle East, just a set of mutually inconsistent sectional interests and policy agendas. I don’t talk about climate change explicitly, but we’ll never have a sensible debate about climate change until oil is demystified.