In case you missed it, we lost the war on terror this week. The decisive battle took place in Nigeria when local groups threatened to attack international oil facilities. This sent the price of crude rocketting through the ceiling. In fact, there were no attacks, which proves that even the mere hint of a disruption in the flow of oil is now enough to propel "hyperventilating markets into an uncontrollable lather.
$50 a barrel; that’s the "red flag that shot up the pole on Tues, Sept 28. It signaled that jittery markets are "stretched to the max and ready to bounce around like a seismologist’s needle with any small fluctuation in production.
Think the terrorists might be watching? Think that every insurgent, rebel, "non-state player and potential malcontent with a beef against the US might be "connecting the dots and spotting America’s new "vulnerability?
When the war on terror was first conceived the neocon lunies imagined they had anticipated every possible obstacle. They believed that if they stripped potential enemies of WMD, they’d be home free. Neither Congress nor the UN nor massive public protests nor insurgency would be able to stop them from their inexorable march to secure the world’s dwindling resources. $50 per barrel means their plan has hit a major bump in the road.
Oil is the empire’s Achilles heel. With facilities stretched across the globe, America’s soft underbelly is fully exposed to the myriad hazards posed by would-be troublemakers. Whether it is terrorists in Riyadh, or Marxist rebels in Bogotá, or disenchanted laborers in Aceh; the effect promises to be the same. Anxious investors have already begun to cannibalize the market with the mere suggestion of a disruption. What will happen when there is a concerted effort to send the whole system up in a column of black smoke?
The Bush Administration doesn’t really grasp the war they have begun. Terrorism (resistance?) is a zero-sum game. It establishes an entirely new paradigm, where the adversary’s objectives become increasingly muddled by constant engagement with the overwhelming force of the superpower. This produces an implacable rage and a sense that if we cannot have a just world, then we’ll have no world at all. We are now facing a scorched earth policy that will place the world’s oil supplies firmly in the crosshairs of groups who wish us harm.
The terrorist’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his cause transforms his life into the poor man’s WMD. This weapon became a key part of geopolitical landscape this week when oil burst through the $50 mark. Now, any disgruntled, unemployed day-laborer can pick up a Kalashnikov and jolt world markets just by blowing up an oil depot.
Maybe this is what Bush had in mind when he introduced his "global democratic revolution?" Now, everyone gets a shot at equal representation by casting their ballot at the local pipeline. Indeed, this new development is the Pandora version of egalitarian government–chaos by design, the Bush legacy.
We are now engaged in a battle that cannot be won by conventional warfare. America’s enemies are bound to focus on this new weakness and exploit it with ferocious intensity. The war that was devised to put every thimbleful of oil under US control is quickly degenerating into a frantic attempt to stabilize nervous markets.
Wait until oil hits $100 a barrel.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: [email protected]