Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bush Tries to Block Iran Oil Deals

A trillion dollar war to remove Saddam Hussein from power only made sense if a stable Iraq followed. Instead we destabilized Iraq and chaos has ensued. Dealing with Iran over its nuclear program is one thing; destabilizing Iran may not make the Middle East a safer place and may put our energy future at risk.

Here's a story by Steven Mufson of The Washington Post (hat tip to The Oil Drum):
The Bush administration is warning European oil and gas companies against investing in Iran, trying to head off a push by Tehran to attract new investment by international petroleum giants.

In the past two weeks, the administration has met with European oil company executives about the Middle East, and during one session a senior State Department official cautioned that the situation with Iran was "hot and is going to get hotter," one executive said.


Oil company executives and consultants said any reluctance to invest in Iran ultimately has more to do with the stingy terms Iran offers than with arm-twisting by the U.S. government. Generally, Iranian contracts let foreign companies recoup costs and give them enough oil for them to make a small profit before control of the fields is turned over to National Iranian Oil.

"In effect, the Iranians have made our sanctions work better than we have," said Gary G. Sick, an expert on Iran at Columbia University.

One international executive said Iranians usually offer single-digit rates of return for investments in the oil sector, far less than what companies can make elsewhere.

Remember, our diplomatic efforts regarding Iran have been amateurish at best. The more I read about Iran, the more it becomes obvious that they're just as capable of making blunders as Bush. Good diplomats can turn blunders by the other side into opportunities to turn things around, but it takes work, something the Bush Administration has been reluctant to do. A proper diplomatic effort can deal with Iran.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Yessir, an angry, resentful, isolated, maybe frightened Iran with a declining economy and quite possibly a nuclear weapons program in the spawning stage are just what the Middle East and the world needs, all right.

Now, as for diplomacy, you don't waste that on bad people. It just makes them feel like big shots. No, at the very least you shun bad people. And if you think you can get away with it, you punish them. The pain of punishment is well known for making people more willing to meet you half way.

Except you don't want half way, you want it all. Which makes the notion of diplomatizing with bad guys all the more of a bad idea.

What's needed here is one of those catchy, brief neocon phrases that frames the issue. Maybe, oil's well that will end well.


Seriously, again, as worthwhile as the idea of diplomacy really is, it's not going to do us any good with Bush and his cronies in charge. They're too likely to sit down at a negotiating table unwilling to actually say or offer anything helpful to bargaining.

That's likely to be the case, first, because they don't want to bargain, and second, because they don't know how.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

S.W., I like 'Maybe, oil's well that will end well.' There's been talk about using nuclear weapons in Iran which reminds me of a little known series of nuclear tests, at least two of them in Colorado. The Colorado tests were designed to test the feasibility of releasing natural gas deposits in hard to get to geological pockets. It released the gas alright, radioactive natural gas!

As for diplomacy, there have been times in the past, and I seem to remember Reagan having to do this once or twice, where experienced envoys with real credibility and name recognition can be hired to deal with countries in the Middle East, including Iran. I don't expect much from the Bush team of course.

Congress has leverage but hasn't actually found it or used it yet. Nonbinding resolutions are nothing more than a place to start but given the timetable, Congress needs to move much more quickly if they're to head off a mess. We can avoid a mess, and the generals might balk again, but it's probably a good idea for people to keep their gas tanks full.

5:56 PM  

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