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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-16-08 02:12 PM
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The "Energy Policy" We Don't Discuss
Edited on Thu Oct-16-08 03:00 PM by Dover
And yet it makes up the bulk of our policy both at home and abroad, costs huge sums in money and blood (ours), and operates almost like a shadow government, employing and rewarding government officials for labor and favors that are rarely made part of their public dialogue. Maybe we should learn more about it.

Just came across this book. I haven't read it yet, but it seems to insert a serious, on-the-ground, commentary about our policy in the Caspian Sea region of Eurasia into an otherwise humorous book that reads as a travelogue of sorts. Hmmmm.

Here's one reader's comments:


Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?
by Ted Rall

This book is a winner for both armchair travelers and those with a serious interest in international geopolitics. Intrepid journalist Ted Rall has become an expert on the obscure lands of Central Asia. This vast but little-covered area covers the five former Soviet republics known collectively as the "Stans," plus parts of Afghanistan and non-Chinese far-western China, all of which are strongly integrated in culture and history. Here Rall reports, with both journalistic insight and a brutally engaging writing style, about his extensive trips through the region. In an often rip-roaring read, we learn about the various horrors of traveling in Central Asia (the corruption and diarrhea there are both among the worst on Earth), while also gaining knowledge on the region's complex politics and infighting. Rall also provides enjoyable coverage of some of the region's offbeat personalities, locations, and culture - such as Turkmenistan's incompetent dictator Turkmenbashi, or a bizarre sport called buzkashi in which many meatheads die painfully for fun and glory.

Central Asia will soon be a world quagmire that will make the Middle East look like a hissy fit. Age-old ethnic tensions, corrupt dictators, irredentist meddling, and the hangover from Russian and Soviet brutalization will all soon combine with the worst of energy politics, as Central Asia's immense fossil fuel resources attract money and influence from power players. Ted Rall usefully clarifies what's really happening in Central Asia from the ground, and points out the geopolitical disaster that will occur if we merely view the region through the lenses of terrorism (i.e. everyone who disagrees with America is in league with Al Qaeda) or petropolitics (i.e. nations are given benefits or sanctions based merely on how much fossil fuel they can offer)....cont'd


http://www.amazon.com/dp/1561634549?tag=commondreams-20...

---

How can either candidate or party claim to advocate energy independence, as we forge ahead with pipeline projects, wheeling and dealing on current and established lines throughout Europe and Eurasia (along the Caspian Sea and even across Afghanistan), apparently following a policy outlined in a bill by Congress in 1999, called The Silk Road Strategy Act (updated in 2006)? We may reduce Middle Eastern supplies (although even that seems doubtful), but seem to only be shifting our foreign dependencies to another region.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...


Didn't Obama mention in last night's debate that Lugar is one of his advisors?
Lugar, Dodd, AND McCain all were part of the 1999 bill. So I wonder what real differences Obama and McCain have on this issue?

Obama: "Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. If I'm interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO."
http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2008d.html

It seems from its inception that this 'policy' was BIpartisan or nonpartisan, and the big money (big oil/gas) is shifting to Eurasia. So what's really new? Aren't all the candidates as well as our Congress still in the pocket of big oil and finance?


The 1999 Silk Road bill -
Mr. BROWNBACK (for himself, Mr. SMITH of Oregon, Mr. BYRD, Mr. HAGEL, Mr. DODD, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. KYL, Mr. HATCH, Mr. GRAMS, Mr. CHAFEE, Mr. HELMS, Mr. THOMAS, and Mr. MCCAIN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
http://www.eurasianet.org/resource/regional/silkroad.ht...


And just try to get the candidates to mention the "p" word...
although... in the first debate McCain did mention those pipelines in Georgia, while Obama talked all around them. Obama seemed to flinch when McCain brought them up.

We also don't hear about this when they talk about building up our military efforts again in Afghanistan.

The subject is completely off the table, and yet will make up a huge part of our foreign energy policy for years to come, requiring vast resources of money and military (even if they do build
a military pipeline protection force with members of those countries through which they will pass,
or by those who will profit).

----


U.S., China vie for oil, allies on new Silk Road (Chicago Tribune)

ATASU, Kazakhstan - The wind-raked scrub of this barren plateau reveals little hint of the revolution gurgling 9 feet beneath.

China's first international oil pipeline, buried in the Kazakh steppe, is a milestone for the world's newest empire--one forged not in the name of destiny or God, but in pursuit of the planet's most valuable resources.

From the Himalayas to the Yellow Sea, China's cities are exploding in size. Their factories are filling shelves around the globe. The country's brand-new middle class is buying cars so fast that China is on pace to have more vehicles than America in two decades.

China had enough oil to sustain itself just 15 years ago. Now it is one of the world's thirstiest oil addicts, importing 40 percent of what it needs. Only the U.S. consumes more.

Each new factory churning out goods made in China and each new car on Chinese highways adds to a ravenous appetite for raw materials, not only oil but timber, copper and soybeans. Satisfying that appetite has sent Chinese oil explorers around the world--first into the arms of America's enemies but increasingly to friends as well.

The 19th Century saw the British Empire and czarist Russia jockey for control of Central Asia in a Great Game of global strategy. Today the game is gathering again, this time between China and the U.S. as China makes its biggest push for influence in this oil-soaked region since the days of the Silk Road.

No nation is more in play than Kazakhstan, where China's new oil pipeline snakes for 620 miles and may one day reach the shores of the Caspian Sea....>

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0612...

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President of Azerbaijani-American Council meets senator Sam Brownback

According to Day.Az, the event involved president of the Azerbaijani-American Council Javid Huseynov, representing the Azerbaijani Diaspora, who also held an individual exchange of views with senator Brownback.

It should be reminded that before John McCain's win at presidential primary in spring of this year, Sam Brownback was among the presidential candidates from the Republican Party. In 1999 alongside with John McCain, Sam Brownback was a co-author of the draft law Silk Road Strategy Act, envisioning US support in strengthening the political and economic independence and democratization of the South Caucasus and Middle Asian states.

In his speech at the event senator Brownback especially discussed the situation in Georgia and noted that Russia's actions in this country are inadmissible for the United States and demonstrate Russia's return to hostile anti-western position of the USSR of the cold war times. The senator announced that he had recently had telephone calls regarding the situation in the South Caucasus with presidents of Georgia and Azerbaijan and said the United States will take all steps for restoration of Georgia and the regional security. The senator noted that to protect the region from the further aggressive actions of Russia. the soonest admission of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO became urgent and that the United States work with European partners in this direction...>

http://www.today.az/news/politics/47162.html

---------

Landrieu is the chair the Silk Road Congressional Caucus

The Silk Road refers to the ancient trade route through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan first explored by Marco Polo. The hope for the Silk Road Caucus is to help connect Central and South Asia and the Caucasus with the US, in an effort to encourage economic, cultural, and political exchange between our countries.

Why should Congress be interested in today's Silk Road?

-- Silk Road countries desire a deeper engagement with the US.

-- China and Russia have recently begun to project influence into the Silk Road region, in some cases at the expense of US interests.

-- Silk Road petroleum reserves have the potential of expanding world supply, resulting in better prices for U.S. consumers.

-- Some Silk Road nations possess weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. involvement is critical to curtailing WMD proliferation.

-- Extremist Islamic fundamentalism is attempting to disrupt and dominate politics in the region.


Countries of the Silk Road are seeking a well-conceived and proactive policy of engagement, which authorizes U.S. assistance to support their economic and political independence. After decades of Communist rule, these countries have faced a tough road toward economic development and prosperity, and the cultivation of a democratic society. It is important for Congress to provide and guide increased aid to support conflict resolution, humanitarian relief, economic and democratic reform, and respect for human rights in the region.

It is clear that the U.S. can no longer abide by its current policy toward the region--one that emphasizes a stand back and watch approach. Economic prosperity, the growth of democracy, and the establishment of the rule of law in the Silk Road states is essential for regional stability and US national security. The US must actively engage this region--both economically and politically.


http://www.ontheissues.org/International/Mary_Landrieu_...

--------


A surprisingly candid interview with Dem. Senator Mike Gravel (excerpt)---


Gravel: That is exactly what you saywhat you were taking about. This is not going to happen where the country is bankrupt. Here is the key to it. They buy into it and this is the tragedy of it and this is why Americans, because our culture has been totally militarized, they buy into this American culture that we are the greatest in the world, we are the most powerful in the world and when he says statements like "we have got to deter Iranwe have got to curb Russian aggression," I mean, these are codeword for whipping up the American people to think that there are problems out there that we have to fear. We have been stealing fear in the American people since the Second World War so that we could have the people accept the fact to spend all this money that we spend not on education, not on health care, not on all these other things that needs be done but on the fact that we spend more money on defense than all the rest of the world put together. The budget of Iran is infinitesimal compared to what we spend on this defense budget.

Press TV: Do you think they do not realize that a president Barak Obama would inherit a 9-trillion-dollar budget deficit?

Gravel: No they do not. They are too busy cheeringnot at alland what they don't realize is that he can make all these statements but he can not change a simple law. He can not vote in the Congress. This is the Congress that does that and the Congress is going to be a Democratic Congress. Even if McCain were to win there is no question, nobody, nobody expects that the Congress would go Republican. So now we are talking about a congress, and so you look at war in Iraq. That was as much a Democratic war as a Republican war. When you look at the threats to Iran that is as much a Democratic threat as a Republican threat. And now look at Lieberman II resolution giving George Bush the authority. I do not know if you are aware of the details of American foreign policy with respect to what we call the SRS, the Silk Road Strategy where the United States of America wants to militarize and control the transportation of gas and oil from China to the European community. This is American imperialism at its worst and, of course, all of the cost that would be involved in that did not this and, of course, the whole nuclear situation. I do not know if you are really aware of the fact that the United Stats trying to organize, under Bush, for the last two years and now that is hopefully falling apart with the Russians by trying to organize the expansion of nuclear energy production. I would hope that Iran will just walk away from this whole idiocy, because fortunately they are too locked into this sort of prestige level but the answer to energy is not oil and gas, in the meantime, Iran has got unbelievable quantities of natural gas it is enough of oil and non-polluting within a space of three or four years.


Press TV: Well, John McCain is now saying tonight Americans witness the misleading speech fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barak Obama. So, do you think well on personality issues rather than policy McCain would just hit him for the lack of experience.

Gravel: Barak Obama has the same position as McCain on Georgia with respect to Russia and they are both wrongthey are both wrong. What happened was the United States has no business selling arms to Georgia, has no business trying to get Georgia to join NATO. In fact NATO should be dissolved. There is no reason for that in the slightest and so Saakashvili, an elected official, who attacked another country that has an elected president that was guaranteed its autonomy by Russia. This is the sickest situation in the world and the American media and the American government has been complicit in this wholein misinforming the American people on this and the best way to get information is to go abroad and listen to Al-Jazeera and listen to many your case, your broadcast and a lot more informed about what the America people are getting from the American information system which is so biased in this regard. But the arms race is being initiated by Bush bought into by the Democrats and by the Republicans. And that is the saddest of it all. And what we hearwhat we see now is politics as usual in the United Statesall the hoopla...and it is very sad because you can get away with this so long. We are raising expectations so high with the hope of change and when change is not realized, and it will not be, it just will not be. Then, of course, comes the alternative which is going to be a very cynical population in this country.

Press TV: Mike Gravel, I suppose we should turn now to who will win the election, do you think George W. Bush's camp have cards under their sleeves, such as Vladimir Putin said, to try and ensure a victory for John McCain?

Gravel: Well you never know. They have got this whole theory of October surprise. And, of course, I think that would copy Saakashvili in his stupidity he was hoping that he could trigger. I have fears that something dumb would happen with respect to trying to incite something with Iran. And that is stupid. You know, the provocations getting out there and, thank God, the leadership of Iran has been more mature. This hardly could be expected during the Cold War. A lot of times, under Richard Nixon and others we had more mature judgment exercised by Soviet leaders than we did by the American presidents and let us hope that we can hang onto that at least until January because I think that Obama will continue American imperialism but I do not think he will be as irresponsible as George Bush has been or, what I feel, that McCain would be. McCain really really would be, in my mind, dangerous as a president and he shoots from the hip.

Press TV: Of course, Obama mentioned the Martin Luther King Junior's speech as was expected. Well, there is another dream. St Paul, the city of F. Scott Fitzgerald. and of the American dream. What should we expect from St Paul. Will we see Dick Cheney? Will we see McCain speak about no timetable about the withdrawal of troops from Iraq for instance?

Gravel: No, I think that he will be little cleverer than that, but you raised something about Martin Luther King which, of course, they have not really focused on what, in my mind, the most important speech about Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King came out against the Vietnam War aggressively. And that is when a lot of backers of the black movements, of the civil rights movements really pulled away from him. They thought that he should not have done that. Well, to me, that was the greatest thing that Martin Luther King was doing. He was really talking about the civil rights. Not only of the black Americans but of the southeastern Asians who were being repressed, murdered and killed by the Vietnam War. But it is interesting that they do not talk about that with Martin Luther King. They only talk about the interests of the civil rights move in this country and not the civil rights move that he thought was important in Southeast Asia. Now, with respect to the Republican convention, I think we are going to see the same old hoopla that we saw in this convention, you know, "everything they did was right." You are going to see more militarism. They are going to play more the military cardthe commander-in-chief. And this plays into the militarized culture that has been placed on the American people. This is a tragedy. Here we have the super power of the world and I do not mean just the military superpower. We are the economic super power.

We are going to be losing that over time. But right now we are the dangerous country in the world. We truly are and I do not know of any way to change that other than to empower the people to be able to become lawmakers. You'll never see the representative government correct itself from the inside. It is going to come from the outside....>

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=67913 ionid=3510302

Gravel (Wikipedia)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Gravel

-------

Anatomy of a Crisis

http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/inside/publications/...

---------

Not Much Of A Game: Security Dynamics in Central Asia

http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/docs/CEF/Quarterly/M...













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