Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Iran’s weakness?

In his most recent column--headlined in the Atlanta paper "U.S. oil conservation could take down Iran" (hah!)--Thomas Friedman makes the following claim:

[I]f oil prices fall sharply again, Iran’s regime would have to take away many benefits from many Iranians, as the Soviets had to do. For a regime already unpopular with many of its people, that could cause all kinds of problems and give rise to an Ayatollah Gorbachev. We know how that ends. “Just look at the history of the Soviet Union,” [President of Russia’s Academy of National Economy Vladimir] Mau said.

In short, the best tool we have for curbing Iran’s influence is not containment or engagement, but getting the price of oil down in the long term with conservation and an alternative-energy strategy. Let’s exploit Iran’s oil addiction by ending ours.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for conservation and developing alternative energy sources (including, if you’re serious about it, ANWR, oil shale, nuclear power, and so on). But conservation in the U.S. (a panacea Friedman has been peddling for some time) is unlikely by itself significantly to drive down the price of oil worldwide.

A better strategy follows from a consideration that, in my view, Friedman got wrong. Here’s Friedman:

I mentioned to [Vladimir Mau] that surely the Soviet Union died because oil fell to $10 a barrel shortly after Mikhail Gorbachev took office, not because of anything Ronald Reagan did. Actually, Mau said, it was “high oil prices” that killed the Soviet Union. The sharp rise in oil prices in the 1970s deluded the Kremlin into overextending subsidies at home and invading Afghanistan abroad – and then the collapse in prices in the ’80s helped bring down the overextended empire.

Why did oil prices collapse? According to Paul Kengor in
The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, Reagan had a hand in the oil price collapse. By persuading the Saudis to ramp up oil production (from 2 million to 9 million barrels a day), the Reagan Administration delivered a body blow to a Soviet economy heavily dependent upon oil exports for hard currency. (To be fair, Kengor cites Peter Schweitzer’s two books for uncovering this incident.) The Saudis are currently producing roughly 9.5 million barrels a day. They surely fear Iranian designs in the Persian Gulf and beyond. What would it take to get them to increase production yet again, moving, say, to a level of 15 million barrels a day, of which they’re apparently "easily capable?" (Just to be clear, Iran exports roughly 2.5 million barrels a day.) You’d think that a reduction of what we import (currently around 10 million barrels a day) and an increase in Saudi production and exports would place an incredible strain on the Iranian economy. But I doubt that U.S. conservation efforts alone will do it, especially with rising consumption in places like China.

Friedman just can’t ride his hobby horse to our rescue in the Persian Gulf. He’s going to have to give more credit to policies championed by Ronald Reagan.

Discussions - 14 Comments

All interesting stuff. My question is: why haven’t we drilled in ANWR yet? Is it seriously because the green left is protesting against it? The Alaskans want to drill it for obvious reasons, and I’m sure most people feel the same. That aside, all we hear about is how bad our dependency on foreign oil is, but no one wants to look into any alternatives short of solar power or hydrogen cells.

Joe, agreed. All these liberals, even the non-extreme ones like Friedman, simply can’t admit that Reagan’s term was very successful. Indeed, they routinely give credit to a communist (Gorbachev) rather than to a true American like Reagan. Such is the enemy.

We could easily give the Enviro types ANWR, and instead use our vast coal reserves and turn that into refined product. We have TODAY, not in some projected future, but today, yesterday for that matter, we have all the expertise necessary to turn our vast coal reserves into all the oil we need. And instead of being an importer of crude, we could easily by a MAJOR exporting power. We could easily handle all of JAPAN’S energy needs. And we should be doing so. We could approach India with a similar deal, thus tying them ever more securely to us, to the West, to the Anglosphere. Likewise Britain.

And I’m not talking expensive crude. If we used our coal reserves, we could obliterate the OPEC cartel. Which is a war objective of greater importance that the destruction of German synthetic capacities in the Second World War.

If there has been one thing that has been an enduring hallmark of this sad excuse of an administration, it’s been there utter want of imagination.

Remember, what ALL OF OPEC is to oil, the United States ALONE is to coal. Just think about that for a moment. Now think of the economic multiplying effects of going after that coal and refining it to desired product. The jobs building the coal to oil plants, the work and maintenance of our rail network, necessary to moving all of that coal. We could easily pass legislation requiring that our coal be shipped on maritime vessels flying American, Japanese and British flags. And thus use that as a way of building new vessels to ship the coal. That’s so much that could be done here. But this administration has been desperate to PRESERVE instead of sever our sick, corrosive and corrupting nexus with the house of al Saud.

Part of the problem is that our CIA is so pathetic, that the only insights we get into the various terrorists and their sponsors is through our liaison relationships with creatures like the "saudis," like the Pakistanis and yes, even the fricken Syrians. Our failure to construct a true war fighting intelligence agency is spilling over into foreign policy. We dare not sever our fragile relationships with various states that wish us ill because those states provide our only view into the various violent groups pockmarked throughout islam. This administration hasn’t a clue, and what’s worse, in their cluelessness they’re reaching out to the very wellspring of strategic cluelessness, the American foreign policy establishment.

This isn’t going to end well people, and I’m not confining my remark to events in Iraq.

What if the Saudis CAN’T increase oil production? Matthew Simmons, an oil industry analyst and investor and member of the Vice President’s 2001 Energy Commission believes that the Saudi’s Ghawar Oil field has passed peak oil production (i.e., its output has begun its inevitable decline). He has predicted $300/barrel oil within many of our lifetimes on the Bloomberg website. If he’s right, we will have to use coal, oil shale, switchgrass, nuclear, anything we can burn or harness or extract, because if the Saudi’s are past peak, then so is the world. And, if this is so, we’re in trouble. As Simmons says, within the next few years we’re going to be worrying alot more about the demise of civilization as we know it than the long term problems of global warming. As ye reap, so shall ye sow.

First off, the "Saudis" can increase production, and what’s more, can increase the infrastructure to pull out more from underneath their sands. That’s not difficult. And by the by, we should place "Saudis" in quotation marks, because the true "saudis" are members of the house of al saud, not the other peoples who dwell within the Arabian peninsula. Every single time we say "Saudi" Arabia, we’re validating the house of al saud’s control of the peoples and resources of the Arabian peninsula.

The only reason we’re even discussing the Mideast so much is because this country REFUSES to fully avail itself of our own God given resources, such as coal.

When I say that we could easily supply the entire energy demands of Britain, Japan and India, as well as Canada and other countries in the Western hemisphere, it isn’t a case of exaggeration. We, the people of the United States, the government thereof, are allowing muslims to dictate what we can or can’t do. Why? Why can’t we simply break ourselves completely clear of the petrosheiks stranglehold? It isn’t difficult, just imagine the number of coal to oil plants we could build for but a fraction of our current "Energy" Department budget. We’re dropping almost a hundred billion per annum on the budget of a Department that was never designed to truly break us free from energy dependance, but was only established to provide political cover for politicians who wouldn’t do what was necessary to break this country free and clear.

Here is the deal, we construct the number of coal to oil plants necessary for us, construct a number necessary for the Japanese, the Indians, our friends the British and the Australians, and moreover, we establish vast stockpiles of coal in those countries to completely insulate those countries and economies from the shocks that the Arabs have a vested interest in occasionally delivering to the Western economies. To appease and placate the left and the Socialistic Democrats, we promise them that we WILL, as a matter of national security and economic interest establish a hydrogen based alternative to oil within the next forty years. And we’ll do that completely, erecting the infrastructure to handle that conversion process, from coal/oil to hydrogen. That’s what we do.

We don’t need to go nuclear, nor do we need wind. All we need to do is use the VAST coal resources under the Continental United States. Just think of the JOBS, the economic impact of the development of our own coal resources. The rail network, the spillover effect on towns across our country, there’s all kinds of positive economic activity that would occur. And think too of the HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS WE WOULD BE ripping out of the hands of our sick enemies in the Mideast.

Oops. Dan, I admire your passionate call for domestic energy sources, and I quite agree. But, here’s a question that ought to be asked: why haven’t we gone to coal long ago? It’s not as if we didn’t know we have it, and lots of it. Why did Churchill switch the British Naval fleets to oil from coal in the 1930s? Why has oil become the dominant energy source of the era of unparalleled prosperity and globalization? The simple answer is, bang for buck, or in scientific terms, EROEI - "energy returned on energy invested." Some energy forms offer a great return on energy invested to acquire them. In the 1940s, the energy return on oil pumped from the earth was 100:1 (100 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil invested). By 1973 it was 23:1 (a sign of depleting, but still productive oilwells). This is still an enormous amount of energy returned on energy invested. Coal does pretty well if we just burn it - in 1950 the EROEI of coal was 80:1, although by 1970 it was 30:1. This number drops for electrical production, where the EROEI is 9:1. That number gets worse when we add scrubbers, where it can drop to as low as 2.5:1. The real problem arises with coal liquefaction, that is, the production of oil from coal (which would be necessary if we ceased importing oil). The EROEI through this process begins to drop close to 1:1. This process will only become justified when the cost of oil goes up to a certain level (the market will tell us when). However, we have to notice that this means that energy will simply become more expensive. This means that EVERYTHING will become more expensive - transportation, of course, but electricity, heating, products, food... everything. Less overall energy means less overall growth, less wealth, less production. Guess what will happen to our civilization when the American and world economies stop growing?

Sure, coal to oil is not as efficient as pure oil straight to a generator. That’s why it requires the entire American economy, 13 trillion strong and growing, to stand behind the creation of a coal to oil infrastructure.

Heretofore, any attempt, any SERIOUS attempt by the West to create a genuine alternative to MIDEAST crude was answered by Mideast suppliers by a glut of oil flooding the market. That drove price down, sharply down sometimes. Such downward pressures made the creation of those alternative energy sources economically prohibitive. Once the effort stalled, economically because of the prospect of losses, politically because of the presence of cheap crude and cheap gas, apparently as far as the eye can see, once that effort killed off the energy and the determination to create an alternative to Mideast crude, then the Mideast suppliers began to slowly, but surely hike the price of their crude. Thus by agile and deft control of the supplies of crude upon the markets, the Mideast suppliers have effectively throttled any genuine competition reaching the markets.

So what’s the answer to this conundrum?

The United States government! OPEC is GOVERNMENT DOMINATED, it’s actions are those of FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS, not simply transnational conglomerates. Thus the response to OPEC needs to encompass more than American private enterprise. We need to see that our economy AND our polity is being manipulated by Mideast powers. Once we come to that conclusion, once we make that insight, we can conjure a proper response

That response would allow our government to make good on all losses of our coal to oil domestic suppliers that are caused by downward pressures on the oil market THAT WERE CREATED by MIDEAST GOVERNMENTS. When the Mideast governments enter the oil markets to manipulate price and to force out of existence our domestic coal to oil suppliers, OUR OWN GOVERNMENT, PERCEIVING THE NATIONAL SECURITY aspects inherent in that action by the Mideast governments steps in, and guarantees losses on a dollar for dollar basis. Think of it, standing behind the oil industry of "Saudi" Arabia is what??????? Nothing but mosques, wahab radicals and whacked out preachers. They have NO economy to stand behind their price surges, no economy to sustain PROLONGED losses against any action taken by the United States government, which has the ENTIRETY of the American economy, 13 trillion dollars worth per annum, standing behind it.

Thus we crush the market manipulations of the OPEC cartel. We break free. And what’s more, we break the THIRD WORLD free as well. For there are none who feel more injuriously the sharp oscillations of the crude markets as much as those developing economies and communities.

The reduction to dust of the OPEC cartel will be seen in retrospect as a humanitarian gesture as well as an action in furtherance of American and Western national security.

Remember too, I’m NOT suggesting that we use coal to answer our energy needs for more than 4 or 5 decades. We use coal as an INTERIM measure, we use it to advance our own national security, and those of our friends, those of allied nations. And we use it to ENABLE US to fully perfect our hydrogen breakthroughs. Recall, the hydrogen breakthroughs will require the construction of a vast infrastructure to support it. By using coal now, we’ll have ample time to perfect the technology AND construct that necessary infrastructure. And what’s more, allow ample time for our allies to construct similar infrastructures. It’s not enough for us to break free of the Mideast suppliers, we must break free much of the Western world, the entirety of the Anglosphere, Japan and India. I want to completely starve the Arab and Persian powers. I want to reduce them to economic starvation. Without crude reaching the markets, the only thing they can do is make interesting rugs, refine narcotics and offer muslim killers for hire. That’s about it. They have no economy, other than maybe offering banking services for thugs, creeps and other organizations who would prefer their activities avoid gaining the attention of Interpol.

And lastly, I’m suggesting that once we have that coal to oil capacity, that we flood the markets. We absolutely use our vast resources to glut the markets, and drive down the source of crude, forever. We never allow the price of crude to get above 7 or 8 bucks per barrel. We should make it a point of national policy to starve "Saudi" Arabia of oil profits. For every estimated dollar they’ve spent exporting one of the most satanic and corrosive messages ever to stain the breasts of men, we should make it a point of honour to drain from them 100 dollars worth in profits.

In short, declare economic warfare upon the house of al saud. We must those make those dirtballs pay dearly for 9/11, and their support for sunni terror over the last several decades plays a HUGE part of the problems we’re dealing with now. We’re spending HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER ANNUM, not to mention the blood and the tears, all in the attempt to undo the poisons that dirtball regime unleashed. Just think about it.

We MUST make them pay.

And it’s not just the liberals who are preventing us going after domestic sources of crude. That’s a bit simplistic. There are many, many, MANY LAW FIRMS in New York and Washington, many a public relations firm, many a lobbyist who doesn’t want to see anything jostle the flow of cash from the Mideast into their little hands. The US/Saudi nexus is profoundly poisonous, deeply injurious to this nation’s weal. People like James Baker aren’t interested in seeing this country sever that nexus with the house of al saud. And it’s not just him. Carter has been taking dollars flowing from the petrosheiks. Likewise Brett Scowcroft. Look at ALL the people who had their hands out for the Dubai Ports deal. Fellows like Dole, creatures like Albright. It was a literal who’s who of Washington society. Daschle’s wife, if I recall, was also in on that cozy, little deal.

Do you know that when senior members of any, REPEAT ANY administration leave office, that they are usually invited to a cozy little meeting with some member of the house of al saud, where the conversation goes, "And what can we do for you....?" Now just think about the corrosive effect that such offers of consultancies, board memberships, and retainers has on our bureaucratic and governing class.

Go check out the works of late CIA officer Robert Baer, he spells it all out for those of us on the outside.

For every law firm handling Saudi business, there are probably FIVE law firms LOOKING TO GET a piece of that saudi cash.

The effects of this poisonous commercial interactions are now overflowing into a national security dilemma.

What rocket scientist after 9/11 would POSSIBLY, POSSIBLY think it a good idea to have MORE saudis roaming the country after 9/11, then we had before? Our own President, that’s who. He had one of those nauseating meetings with Abdullah, you know, the kind where he comes out before the cameras holding the hand of that corpulent voluptuary, and during the meeting he promised, HE PROMISED, WITHOUT CONSULTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO WOULD HAVE THROWN UP JUST THINKING ABOUT IT, that idiot promised Abdullah to increase the numbers of "students" roaming our gracious land.

That’s precisely the kind of crap we get because of the US/Saudi nexus.

But hey, they’re our friends!!!!!!!! And "islam is peace!!!!!!!!!!!!"

It’s enough to make a grown man want to puke.

All this talk about the US dominating world energy with coal is nonsense. It won’t happen.

We have big coal reserves. And so do many other nations. Coal is a really crappy way to produce energy. It has two virtues, we have a lot, and it is easy to use.

If you don’t like the color of the sky or your lungs, make that four virtues.

We can affect the international price of oil and the power of OPEC in two ways. If we continue to use a lot the price will go up. In response other nations will encourage alternative energy sources. It is hard to say what might result.

Or, we can also reduce the world price of oil by using less and aggressively developing alternatives. The lower price of oil will then help those who continue to rely upon it.

There is no free lunch. And there is no magic that will solve all our energy problems.

Avoid ideas about driving OPEC to starvation or achieving dominance anywhere with energy. It will prove better to encourage the technology of alternative fuels at home and keep our mouths shut about screwing others.

No, we don’t just have "big" coal reserves, we have reserves that aren’t even vast. We have reserves that defy description. THAT’S how much coal we have.

Now it’s probably true that nothing will come of my suggestion, though it’s interesting to note some Democrat Senators have recently begun harping on coal usage. Of course the reason is to be found in the Electoral College, for the Democrats want to garner West Virginia’s electoral votes, and the way to do that is to keep silent about gun control and allow West Virginians to market their coal. But despite the talk, nothing will probably come of it, for the simple reason that it’s a good idea. Good ideas often die in Washington.

Conservation talk is ridiculous. California over the last fifteen years has cut their consumption of oil and energy by over fifteen 20 percent. Has that conservation had any effect on their energy problems. Not really, go ask Gray Davis.

We’re not going to conserve our way out, but we could easily produce our way of this problem. In the next fifty years, America will be country moving towards FIVE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE. Now their energy demands, heating, air conditioning, Internet and roadway are NOT going to be met by repeating conservative mantras.

We have a problem, and we need to create enough energy to solve it.

Many nations have some coal reserves. But none like the United States. It needs to be repeated until it’s properly understood. What ALL of OPEC is to oil, is to oil reserves, the United States ALONE is to coal reserves. And yet we refuse to avail ourselves of what God has granted us.

The coal to oil technology of which I speak is CLEAN BURNING. It’s not the stuff of Dickensian horrors, where smog and smut pollution wafts across the skylines of cities. It’s not like that at all anymore. It’s clean burning. And since we would only need to use it for another fifty years maximum, we should start using it. Remember it’s COAL TO OIL, not just coal burning of which I’m speaking.

Actually, it’s not all that clean-burning unless it is gasified...then it’s a Cadillac (or perhaps Lexus) fossil fuel. They have to work on cost-control, however. So far, it’s more expensive that just burning oil, but that’s likely to change.

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