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Caspian sea, oil, and U.S. troops in the region(9 posts)

Caspian sea, oil, and U.S. troops in the regionWoof the dog
Dec 29, 2001 2:13 AM
Is it true that the underlying factor in having our troops in Afghanistan is to gain access to the rich oil fields in Caspian sea region? It does make sense because the sea is isolated from transport tankers, but the routing of oil through Russia is not a good idea. Not a flame bait, just wondering whether you pple think it could be true. And please please be civil!


Woof the dog.
Probably not,TJeanloz
Dec 29, 2001 9:24 AM
Having troops in Afghanistan probably doesn't have much to do with Caspian oil. And there are a few good reasons why not. If you drilled oil from the Caspian, you'd have to get it to the open ocean somehow for transport to people who can use it. Kazakhstan is the country that is able to do most of the drilling, by virtue of where the oil is. The easiest way to get oil out of Kazakhstan would be a pipeline through Russia to the Black Sea, where it then could be tankered to the west.

If you were desperate to route the oil through Afghanistan, it could be done, but you'd have to go through Turkmenistan and either Iran or Pakistan- neither of which are particularly stable.

Routing oil through Russia, it turns out, is a pretty good idea. The Russians have effectively busted the OPEC cartel, and are responsible for the current oil glut. If we have learned anything from Russian history, it is that Russians almost always do what is in their best interest financially. And selling oil is probably going to save their economy.

The really interesting question is whether we should continue to support Saudi Arabia- at this point, they need our money more than we need their oil (as the market has plenty of oil). A 1970's-style oil embargo wouldn't have nearly the effect today that it had 25 years ago, so the Saudi's can't afford to lose us as a friend- not the other way around.
Probably not,Woof the dog
Dec 29, 2001 11:07 AM
cool. I was wondering since I am not into politics really. It takes a lot of time to read all the news, reports, stories on the internet about the situation and I can barely keep up with my biking hobbies. Another reason why I simply don't want to get into mtn. biking - I know it will be another obsession and I will have to research the subject very closely. Just how do YOU keep up with all this info volume?

Whining softly

Woof the dog.
A Quid Pro QuoMcAndrus
Dec 29, 2001 3:00 PM
That is an excellent and I believe accurate summary.

I've felt that somewhere inside our diplomatic efforts this is one of two quids pro quo for Russian cooperation in Afghanistan. The other is giving Russia a free hand with the Chechyens. (Like we could ever stop that, but we do have a loud megaphone in world opinion, apparently.)

The tidbits I've read and heard in the news is that we have been working with the Russians to arrange financial backing and perhaps diplomatic manuevering in neighboring states to ease the building of a pipeline through Russia.

Let's check on this in ten years and see if my prediction holds true. I think this may be one of the diplomatic coups of the 21st century by our country.
Dec 31, 2001 1:52 PM
The pipeline route has been under discussion for a few years now. Basically, since the fall of the Soviet Union. A lot has changed since then. Turkey looks good. Syria has moderated, and even Iran looks a lot more attractive. The oil will get out, and American companies will have a lot to do with it, but it has nothing to do with Afghanistan.

The world was content to leave Afghanistan alone until it became the preferred base for terrorists. It's a relatively meaningless country in the grand scheme of things. And when is the last time you heard about Lebanon and Libya, the previous terrorist base of choice? A better question is: where will the next one be? Hopefully nowhere if US policy remains iron fisted--knowingly base terrorists and we will wipe you out.

The Chechnya situation is an interesting one. A lot of the Taliban fighters turned out to be foreigners, and it seems that a good number of them were Chechen. That doesn't help endear them to the USA, and it should give Russia a free hand to wipe out the movement however they choose.
I'm always ready to believe the worst about a Bush, but...cory
Dec 29, 2001 3:31 PM
I hate this, but I think I take the troops in Afghanistan at face value, at least for now. There was a real threat there, and we had to respond to it.
What will be interesting, as TJ said, is what happens next. A British newspaper printed, two months or so ago, what supposedly was a leaked report showing how the Bush administration planned to get us into conflict with Iraq, to justify new bombing there (as long as we're in the neighborhood?) and clean up the mess Bush I left undone in 1991. It seemed far-fetched at the time, but since then Bush II has begun making the demands and the noises the story predicted he would. He's also locked up his father's and Reagan's papers, so no one can check on what REALLY led to and happened in the Gulf War and what went into the decision to leave when we did.
It's pretty hard in any case to justify continued support of Saudi Arabia given its relationship to terrorists...but then the Saudis DO have the oil, and the Bush family and many of their friends and major contributors are funded by oil. I don't believe they'd put the interests of the country COMPLETELY behind their own financial interests, but they're certainly influenced by that, and their interpretation of the country's best interests may be different from yours and mine (I'd NEVER drill in Alaska, for one example--I think what's there now is more important than any amount of oil). When you consider the administration's refusal even to discuss conservation as a partial solution to our energy problems, it does raise questions. There's going to be all kinds of stuff happening in that part of the world over the next few decades, I hope not including the start of World War III. Wouldn't it be weird if it all came out with the US and Russia strongly allied and keeping a watchful eye on China?
Good analysisJon
Dec 29, 2001 6:18 PM
Once the pipelines from Central Asia are built and more Canadian tar sands are developed,
watch the Saudis attitudes change. Either that or they'll be overthrown by even more reactionary
elements in the country, and the U.S. will stand aside and allow it to happen. Also, if Russian
oil delivery fully comes on line watch the U.S. and European governments take a much harder
line on Arab terrorism.
Friends of Bush,TJeanloz
Dec 30, 2001 8:15 AM
It's an interesting point that the left constantly makes that Bush is in the back pocket of the oil industry. This could well be true- he is an oil man after all. But his policy moves have all been towards increasing the supply of oil- which actually hurts the industry. Greater supply means lower prices for the proven reserves you already have. If Bush really wanted to make his cronies rich, he'd ban drilling in the arctic- which would keep supply down, and profits up.

On another point, the Afghan war clearly has had benifits for many countries well beyond those involved. Many situations like Russia/Chechnya, Isreal/Palistine. Sri Lanka/Tamil, have been making hay cleaning up their "terrorist" elements. The "war on terror" has really been a coup for marginal governments who are removing their domestic opposition in the name of fighting terrorism. At the same time however, those countries with the most dangerous elements to the west- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, et. al. haven't been doing nearly the amount of housecleaning we'd like.
re: Caspian sea, oil, and U.S. troops in the regionMe Dot Org
Jan 1, 2002 12:05 PM
Yes, I've heard about the pipeline. But I remember hearing that the reason we were in Kosovo had to do with oil. This old Vietnam War protester even remembers hearing the reason we were in Vietnam was oil.

However, if the reason was oil, I daresay that reason was extant when the Taliban was coming to power. The U.S. dropped its interest in Afghanistan after the Cold War ended, and has come back because of terrorism, not oil.