Iran to the US:
"Go ahead, make our day."
That was the message yesterday from Iran's ambassador to the UN when asked if his country was worried that the Europeans and US would push for UN sanctions against Iran. He just smiled and said Iran had the right to pursue it's nuclear ambitions and that the west would be wise to just let it. But, he added darkly, should western nations pursue sanctions, Iran would retaliate.
And just how would little Iran retaliate against the combined power of western nations? Easy. They'd just cut us off, that's how. Of course I am talking oil here, not area rugs. And, as the world's second largest oil exporter, that threat carries weight.
Our position here reminds me of a conversation in the HBO Series, "Sex and The City," when the girls were talking about the pros and cons of oral sex. One felt it was demeaning to women. But one the other gals, let's call her "Iran," had a completely different take on it.
"Sure you might be on your knees, but you've got him by the balls." To which the Mullah's in Iran say, "Amen sister."
As US soldiers spend their days ducking and covering next door in Iraq, just a few miles away Iran is busily working towards it's own nuclear arsenal. Nice going George. What ya gonna do now, cowboy?
The answer to that question is that, considering Iran has our energy balls firmly in hand, nothing. In fact, we are already doing just that -- nothing -- as the Europeans, including the French, push for sanctions against Iran. What a switch-a-roo huh? Suddenly all those tough-talking Neo-cons around Bush have fallen silent while the French stand up to Iran. The Bush response? "If the Europeans want to take Iran to the UN, fine, but we are not taking the lead." What happened?
Well you sure won't find the answer by reading the front page stories about all this. Instead you find them buried in the business section. Here, look:
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil stayed within striking distance of Thursday's $65 record high after a top energy body said non-OPEC output was falling short of expectations. The International Energy Agency, adviser to 26 industrialized nations, also nudged up its world oil demand growth forecasts for this year and next, leaving already stretched OPEC to fill the supply void. (Full Story)
AP – August 10 -- While fliers haven't yet had to add that problem to the list of headaches associated with air travel, it may not be far away. Airports in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada recently came within a few days — and at times within hours — of running out of jet fuel... Because of supply bottlenecks, airlines were forced to fly in extra fuel from other markets and scramble for deliveries by truck. But these are expensive, short-term fixes that do not address what airline executives consider to be the underlying problem: with passenger traffic rising above pre-9/11 levels, the nation's aviation business is slowly outgrowing the infrastructure that fuels it....What started as routine supply tightness in these markets quickly snowballed following disruptive events that included a hurricane, a canceled fuel shipment and, ironically, the airlines' own efforts to prevent shortages, according to several airline executives. (Full Story)
Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil in New York jumped to a record $64.35 a barrel after the government reported U.S. gasoline inventories fell for the sixth straight week amid strengthening demand. Motor-fuel stockpiles dropped 2.1 million barrels to 203.1 million last week, the Energy Department reported. Gasoline demand was up 1.4 percent for the four weeks ended Aug. 5 compared with the same period a year earlier.
You get the point. If Iran pulls its 4 million barrels of oil a day off the market, even if only for just a matter of weeks, the oil-dependent West -- particularly the SUV capital of the world, America -- chaos would reign. I am old enough to remember the last time people in the Middle East decided to put the squeeze to our energy-balls. That was back in the 1970s. Cars lined up for gas and states imposed rationing in the form of "odd/even" license number days. We are many times more dependent today on that oil than we were forty years ago and we won't get off that easy this time around. Imagine jetliners lined up for fuel this time, and not getting it because it's not there.
With crude oil prices at historic highs, OPEC nations like Iran are awash in petrodollars. They have more money than they know what to do with. So, cutting us off for a few months wouldn't cause them to break a sweat. And there's not a thing we could do about it. If this were a chess game it would be, "Check," advantage, Iran.
Iran, you see, knew that Iraq was a bier patch built atop a tar pit. They lost a million men making the same mistake Bush made. Which is why Iran just pulled it s key chess pieces out of harms way and let the US charge into the Iraq trap. Now that the US is stuck in Iraq, as Iran knew it would be, they have moved it's pawns into action to make sure we stay stuck there. But it's oil that remains Iran's most power chess piece, and yesterday they moved it into play. Check.
( Excuse me, I need to vent: Stupid George. Stupid, stupid, stupid. You fell right into the trap and took the rest of us with you. You sir, are an imbecile, unquestionably the worst President ever – ever! Disagree? Go ahead, prove it isn't so. I dare you. I double-dare you. If your IQ dropped one more percentage point your internal organs would fail. - Whew, sorry, but I needed that.)
Of course you didn't hear mention of any of this during this week's energy bill signing at Bush's Texas ranch. Nor did you read anything like this in the reporting about it. The energy bill Bush signed might as well have been drafted in 1960 for all the current problems it addresses. It's just chuck full of same old, same old, like enormous tax breaks for big oil companies... which are reporting recording earnings.
Meanwhile Iran is holding our balls in a vice as it move ahead replacing it's exhaustible oil weapon with inexhaustible nuclear weapons. The Iranians figure they can make the switch over seamlessly now that the US can't do squat about it.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, North Korea is watching and learning, even as it provides Iran with some of the expertise and gear it needs to catch up with them. North Korea already has maybe a dozen nukes and long-range missiles capable of hitting Alaska, Hawaii and maybe LA and San Francisco as well. Iran just tested it's own long-range solid fuel missiles too. They can already hit Israel and, by the time the Iranians finish making a few dozen nuclear warheads of their own, they will be able to hit parts of Western Europe as well. Then what?
We Westerners like to think we are smarter than those dusky devils in Middle East and the starving North Koreans. But, while we were congratulating ourselves they were busy making shrewd chess moves of their own. The happiest day of their lives was the day they saw a swaggering, smirking George W. Bush grab his Knight and charge deep into the Iraqi side of the board.
So, is it just "check," or could it be "checkmate? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure. George W. Bush is no certainly no Garry Kasparov.
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