No Winners Here 17

Any life saved is a victory, and I am delighted that the maritime incident has been resolved with nobody being killed or even injured. That is the right perspective on this.

Today four more unfortunate British serviceman died in Southern Iraq as a result of Blair’s crass Middle Eastern policy. Think of them and their families, and the seventy Iraqi civilians who on average will be killed today. Yes, rejoice at the fifteen who came home safely today, but remember those who did not, and their families.

Less than a week before this fifteen were captured, the media received the confirmation that British government scientists believed that 655,000 dead in Iraq a year ago was a good estimate. That received almost no press coverage. The detention of fifteen Britons for ten days is more important than the agonising deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

There was a revelatory moment on BBC Breakfast TV this morning when Admiral Sir Alan West said he was sure we had been in “our” waters. He corrected himself afterwards to “Iraqi waters” but the slip reveals the mindset of the occupying forces.

It is an extraordinarily wide interpretation of the UN occupation mandate to use it to interdict neutral merchant shipping in the Gulf. For me one of the most amazing things about this sorry dispute is that HMS Cornwall was, by the MOD’s own account and according to the embedded journalists on board, attempting to prevent the smuggling of cars. Am I really paying my taxes for incredibly sophisticated warships to be involved in the collection of Iraqi vehicle excise duty?

The Iranian release caught the UK on the hop and was a political coup, but followed British diplomacy offering technical talks on the disputed boundary area and the conduct of future operations. I hope that in the not too distant future Iran and Iraq will negotiate their maritime border; but thanks to us Iraq has a government that controls a tiny proportion of its land, let alone its seas.

Let us hope that the safe return of the fifteen shall be followed swiftly by the safe return of all our forces. They should never have been there in the first place.

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17 thoughts on “No Winners Here

  • hillblogger3

    Condolences to the families of the four British troops killed in Basra.

    How ironic that we managed to save 15 of our troops from the claws of what Americans call the most evil regime in the region but our supposed "allies", the Iraqis have just killed four of our boys.

  • Randal

    "Am I really paying my taxes for incredibly sophisticated warships to be involved in the collection of Iraqi vehicle excise duty?"

    I believe the UK government will respond that they are trying to deal with the problem of stolen cars imported for use as car bombs. Mike Davis, in his highly readable "Buda's Wagon – A brief history of the car bomb" writes:

    "In October 2005, an FBI counter-terrorism unit acknowledged that they were investigating a new international industry: SUVs stolen from suburban driveways in California and Texas were being exported to the Middle East for new careers as car bombs."

    He cites a Boston Globe piece:

    "U.S. car theft rings probed for ties to Iraq bombings"

    By the way, the Davis book is highly recommended. It's written from a very left-wing perspective (which I suspect anyway will not be as much of an issue for you as it was for me), and I'm not sure whether the confidence he shows in some of his attributions of responsibility for various acts is entirely justified, but it's still a great read and a good piece of work.

  • Craig


    Mistake often made, but I'm not a socialist. There was no attempt made by the MOD to link the cars with potential bombs in briefing embedded journalists – or at least none was reported, and as it is a sexier angle I think we can presume it would have been.

  • larabraveheart

    Frankly, I think that the War on Terror / Invasion of Afghanistan / Iraq War / Iran War Talk (& consequently the recently released 'hostages') are all symptoms of the disease, and we don't heal ourselves from the disease, until we address it's root causes.

    In my opinion — and many others, much more credible and knowledgeable about such matters — the root cause of these issues is PEAK OIL (the peak in world oil production, and the economic, agricultural, financial & cultural consequences thereof).

    Matt Simmons (a) is the Chairman & founder of Simmons & Co Intn'l, one of the largest energy investment banks in the world, (b)a conservative Republican and friend of G.W. Bush, and (c) was a key advisor to the Cheney Energy Task Force (NEPDG), prior to 9/11.

    In the BBC Documentary WAR FOR OIL, the following statements occurred:

    (0:53) Simmons: "Physical (oil) shortages are a real, real serious concern" (13:30) BBC: 'Matt Simmons is an advisor to the Houston Oil Industry. Like Colin Campbell he's worried about falling oil production around the world. He was also a key advisor to the Cheney Energy Task Force. "What I basically told them (Cheney's Energy Task Force, which went to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep its discussions secret from the American people) is that we had some looming energy problems, because we'd run out of productive (oil) capacity. We'd basically in the 1990's used up all of the cushions, and yellow lights were going off all over, that we were barrelling into a really nasty energy crisis."

    BBC: "The administration was receptive to Simmons message. The Cheney report concluded that energy security should be a priority of America's foreign policy."

    Simmons: "Is there a paranoia about energy. That's probably not a bad description. We've been a heavy importer of oil for two decades, and I think it's just the fact that so many of the areas that we used to rely on, are showing signs of no longer growing, and probably shrinking, that gives rise to an uncomfortable sense that we have allot more serious energy problems to address than we've thought about for the last 20 years."

    BBC: 'And the US administration is worried about that?"

    Simmons: "Yeah, absolutely".

    BBC: "Most worried of all was US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Since 1998, he and other leading hawks had openly advocated invading Iraq to protect US oil supplies."

    Matt Simmons recently stated, "The odds of us not peaking in the next five years are zero."

    Fact #1: The US, as the world's biggest consumer of oil, is the most vulnerable to the consequences of peaking;

    Fact #2: Sixty percent of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East;

    As oil production begins to decrease, oil prices will soar with dramatic repercussions on local, national, and global economies, financially (our economic growth financial system is based upon the assumption of cheap energy/debt based growth), agriculturally (currently 10 joules of energy are required to produce the equivalent of 1 joule of food_See Eating Fossil Fuels, by D. Pfeiffer, at, etc.

    The issue of Peak Oil has been gaining national and international attention. The magazine The Economist proclaimed the End of the Oil Age in a recent issue. National Geographic had a cover story in June 2004 entitled "The End of Cheap Oil" and a recent issue of the New Yorker explored the connections between resource depletion and war – past, present and future. Other extensive reports have appeared in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

    In his state of the union address, G.W. Bush himself admitted, THE US IS ADDICTED TO OIL. Pres. Bush is well aware of Peak Oil, and it's consequences, especially for US hegemony (they have to control the flow and production of oil, or their empire goes down the toilet. As peak oil becomes a reality, whomever controls the worlds oil production, will have enormous power and leverage — think Putin, turning off the UK's gas!) around the world.

    Dr. Bakkhtiari is Senior Expert attached to the Director's office in the Corporate Planning Directorate of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). His recent conclusion: the peak of global oil production has now been reached.

  • Randal

    "Mistake often made, but I'm not a socialist."

    Noted 🙂 Neither am I. The book is still recommended anyway.

    "There was no attempt made by the MOD to link the cars with potential bombs in briefing embedded journalists – or at least none was reported, and as it is a sexier angle I think we can presume it would have been."

    Fair enough.

    Call me a cynic, but allow me the suspicion that that would be the angle used were the matter ever to become an issue (truth not, obviously, being in the slightest relevant to whether HMG would make a particular claim).

  • Daniel

    "Dr. Bakkhtiari is Senior Expert attached to the Director's office in the Corporate Planning Directorate of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). His recent conclusion: the peak of global oil production has now been reached."

    This made me chuckle. NIOC is a state-owned Iranian company which has an interest in promoting such views as it is failing to attract the investment needed to boost oil field productivity. The failure to attract foreign investment in related to the peculiar way in which the Iranian oil industry operates, with buy-back agreements instead of production sharing contracts due to the Iranian Constitution's commitment to maintain resources of economic importance in state hands. A lack of innovative gas injection methods, etc, mean that Iran will stop exporting oil in a few years due to oil field depletion. So, Iran plays up the idea that peak oil has been reached, when in fact a part of the reason for the decline in oil output is due to the Iranian government's own policy failures.

  • Craig

    I think the basic thesis is right, whether "Peak oil" is yet reached or not (and I don't know, but it will be). Command of the World's key demand inelastic commodity is the driving force in all of this.

  • Rambabu48

    "Before leaving Iran, they received gifts given to them on Ahmadinejad's behalf including handicrafts, a vase and special Persian candy, Iran's state-run news agency, IRNA, reported"-NY Times.

    I wonder if the British P.M. advised the freed men and lone woman to FEDEX back all the gifts and their ill fitting suits to Ahmadinejad the moment after they landed on the British soil. In all likelyhood, they apologized to Ahmadinejad under duress, and thanked him under duress,and they inevitably accepted the gifts under duress.

  • Craig


    Plainly being held prisoner is duress. But I fail to see the point you are making. I haven't seem a posting suggesting they be thankful for their presents.

  • kazbel

    I'm concerned that as soon as the fifteen got out, Blair was back attacking Iran as though dreadfully disappointed by the outcome,,-6536…

    – it almost seems as though he has a schedule and freeing the fifteen didn't fit in. I hope I'm just being too suspicious. Is this normal in tricky negotiations?

  • larabraveheart


    "NIOC is a state-owned Iranian company which has an interest in promoting such views as it is failing to attract the investment needed to boost oil field productivity."

    Dr. Bakhtiari doesn't speak for NIOC, when he has spoken on the issue of Peak Oil. Neither NIOC, nor the Iranian gov. have in any way – to my knowledge – promoted the theory of Peak Oil whatsoever. In fact to the contrary, they – and others in the Middle East – have done anything and everything, from considering their 'reserves' to be 'state secrets', to hassling those who have spoken up about Peak Oil.

    Excerpt from Q & A with Dr. Bakhtiari at:


    Q: You are an eminent personality with NIOC. Since oil is nationalized in your country, this means you must have strong connections with your national leaders, and furthermore, they approve of your involvement with the Peak Oil debate. These are my questions:

    1) Why is the awareness of peak oil in the world placed primarily on your shoulders? Why do your leaders burden you singularly with this difficult task and then keep it from being discussed at large? If a warning about peak oil were to come from the leaders of one of the world's main oil producers [Iran], a respected member of OPEC, it would undoubtedly reverberate around the world. Why this silence?

    2) Why are you the only scientist (and eminent personality) from an OPEC country to speak about peak oil? Have you ever asked yourself this? I'm sure if you know about peak oil, then your colleagues in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela must be aware as well. Do you know why your country is the only one allowing one of its scientists to speak publicly about peak oil?

    Dr. Bakhtiari:

    Allow me to correct a misconception: I am not an eminent NIOC personality. The present company officials simply detest me (all of 'them') and are doing their utmost to have me quit (after 33 years of service, mainly not to pay me my final bonus and retirement); they certainly couldn't care less about 'peak oil' — and this is as far I can go in a public forum. I leave it to your imagination to envision the rest…

    1) I really don't know how it came about that I am the only OPEC (and Middle Eastern) expert on 'peak oil'. Certainly neither political leaders nor company officials ever guided or encouraged me unto this path (to the contrary). I kind of stumbled on Dr. Campbell's work in 1995 (his days at PetroConsultants) and since … I have come all this long way (thanks mainly to the Internet). I still have to take from my personal yearly leave of absence and find a sponsor in order to be able attend international conferences. I finance part of my research out of "Letter from Tehran" income.

    2) I really don't know why I am so singular within OPEC (although I am not a very common individual, with a eventful past). Maybe the others are told to shut up and do so for their own good (and benefits). I will always speak out.

    Well, I hope you were able to read between the lines, because although none of 'them' speaks or reads English, someone (among the Western puppet-masters) might call 'them' to attention. Now, the seemingly apparent contradictions might be beginning to make some sense…


    Secondly, I don't share your opinion that production sharing contracts are preferable for the country with the (oil) resource, to buy-back agreements. From what I have read about the matter, frankly it appears to me, that many of the production sharing contracts as negotiated by 'big oil' have been nothing more than daylight robbery, robbing the citizens and nations who in effect own the resource, for the profits of big oil. Which is why Putin recently embarked upon his 'environmental assessment' blackmail to re-negotiate/cancel the ludicrous thievery of the production sharing contracts which were 'negotiated' (stolen) from Russia at Sakhalin I and II, by Shell et al. The same thing – right now – appears to be happening to Iraqi Oil, thanks to Mr. Bremmer and the recently drafted – production sharing agreements suggestion for dealing with Iraq's oil.

    See, among others: >> The Rape of Iraq's Oil, Guardian, March 22, 2007 >> Blood and Oil: How the West will profit from Iraq's most profitable commodity, The Independent, 7 Jan 2007 >> Who's Oil is it Anyway?, New York Times, 13 March 2007 >> Al-Maliki tells aides US benchmark deadline is June 30 or his ouster possible, International Herald Tribune, March 13, 2007 >> Iraqi Oil Agreements Reveals True Winners in Iraq, Mother Jones, March 1, 2007 >> Is Big Oil Going to Control Iraq's Reserves, The Nation, March 6, 2007 >> Oily Truth Emerges in Iraq, New York Daily News, 23 Feb, 2007.

    Iran will stop exporting oil in a few years, whether or not they use 'innovative gas injection methods'. Gas injection methods only provide for a limited number of 'extra oil' which can be gotten from a field, most of which is heavy sulphur rich crude, not light sweet, and that little bit extra is something, but is not going to make much of a significant difference to peak oil. The world currently uses approximately 1 billion barrels of oil, every 11 ? days.

    To conclude. Iran has done absolutely nothing to play up the idea that peak oil has been reached, to the contrary. As for the reason for the decline in oil output being due to the Iranian gov's own policy failures: Saudi Arabia is doing everything it can under the sun, from hiring every rig available, to using 'innovative gas injection' et al? and it appears they simply cannot raise production anymore? their production is decreasing, no matter what they do, and that's allot – and neither are they playing up the idea that peak oil has reached; but in the end, I'd say production is declining for the simple reason that OIL IS A FINITE RESOURCE?. and this happens to be a significant problem for neoliberal economists to comprehend, who as Dr. K. Deffeyes says, 'Economists seem to think that if you pitch up at the cashiers office with enough money, God will put more oil in the ground.'

    For a better analysis, you may wish to read, ENERGETIC LIMITS TO GROWTH, by Jay Hanson, which succinctly explains why energy 'sources' must provide more energy than they consume, otherwise they are energy 'sinks', at:

    And subsequent to that… you may consider whether the west/capitalism idealists fundamentalists are as fanatically attached to their economic paradigm of 'economic growth', as 'Middle Eastern' 'terrorists' are attached to their particular interpretation of the Quran.

    The movie 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR described the 'Catch 22' dillema of politicians in our current scenario pretty well. Robert Redford (Turner) is a CIA researcher who discovers a secret plan by the CIA to invade the Middle East for it's oil. At the end of the movie the following discussion occurs between Redford and his superior handler (Higgins):


    Turner: "Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?"

    Higgins: "Are you crazy"

    T: Am I? ??..

    H: Look Turner?.

    T: Do we have plans?

    H: ?.. The plan was all right. The plan would have worked.

    T: What is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

    H: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years – food, plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?

    T: Ask them.

    H: Not now – then. Ask them when they're running out. Ask them when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who've never known hunger start going hungry. Do you want to know something? They won't want us to ask them. They'll just want us to get it for them.


    Simple (Energetic Limits to Growth) Economics, Daniel! 🙂

  • Rambabu48

    Re: My posting here at 8:45PM on 5th April 2007.

    I am sorry for my off-topic posting. I have been browsing British websites only in recent days, and picked wrong one to express my views. I must say that I have found your site very scholarly.

    Coming back to your suggstion to make my point of view clearer, I suggest you to read my posting at The Sun tabloid today:


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