By John Helmer
Richard Cheney, the outgoing vice-president of the United States, is the modern version of Mime, second in command of the Niebelungs, the bad dwarfs of the mythical German underworld. It was Mime who forges a magical helmet to give his brother Alberich, the chief dwarf Niebelung, the power to change into anything he desires.
You don’t have to subscribe to pagan witchcraft; be a fan of Adolph Hitler; or enjoy Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle of operas, to know how badly the Niebelungs turn out, their thievery and thuggery bringing on the fiery destruction of themselves, and the gods who patronize them. But that’s only on stage. Having launched two wars the US is now losing in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney intends to launch the third, and most destructive of all, the war against Iran. To divert Americans from opposing this folly, Cheney is now denouncing Russia for the very disruption of global oil supply which Cheney and his Israeli friends intend to unleash themselves – in less than a year’s time.
Speaking recently to an assembly of states sharing a border with Russia, each of whom has accepted US election funding, and invited US military bases or covert US prisons, Cheney accused Russia of belligerence. “No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail”, Cheney hammered away, “either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation. And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements.”
A quick sketch of oil geography indicates that the principal chokepoint for Russian oil to reach market at present is controlled by the US-funded Turkish military regime at the Bosphorus Straits. It is unilaterally imposed Turkish restrictions to limit the movement of oil tankers into and out of the Black Sea – violating international treaties since the end of the Crimean wars and World War I – that have encouraged the US plan to fund the oil pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, on the Mediterranean. But even when that flow reaches capacity – unlikely until well after Cheney’s war on Iran – it will provide a drop in the bucket of global demand, and almost nothing in the emergency Cheney is planning within months.
More important than the US manipulation of Russian oil movement is the impact Cheney’s plan for war is likely to have on the movement of all Middle Eastern oil currently moving through the Strait of Hormuz, between the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Russian assessments of US and Israeli intentions currently regard their attack on Iran’s nuclear and military targets, and an Iranian counter-attack on the Hormuz passage, as equally inevitable. They differ on whether these will happen by September of this year, or by June of next year; the current consensus is earlier rather than later. Iranian assessments – confirmed by wargaming, military exercises, and other preparations – suggest the expectation that, in order to safeguard the Strait of Hormuz, the US will have to attack the shoreline with ground forces, and hold on to it.
The international market in oil futures has already begun calculating the price of oil after the disruption of Iran oilflow to the west. Very soon, the market will start figuring into the future delivery price the cost of the blockage of Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi and other Arab shipments through the Persian Gulf. And that isn’t counting what will happen to tanker rates, as vessels may be obliged to avoid, not only Gulf passage, but also the Suez Canal. To be sure, if Arab sympathizers were to put passage through the Suez at significant risk, the cost of Cheney’s little adventure grows far beyond anything the Iraq experience has taught.
In short, the fundamental reason for the rising risk premium in the market price of oil — and thus, of the linked price of natural gas – is American destruction, not Russian disruption. Naturally, when the market dictates a message as unpleasant as that, the free-marketeers in Washington must look for scapegoats.
In fact, as American oil and shipping companies like Chevron have recently begun to realize on visits to Moscow, with war approaching, there will be nothing like the benefit to be garnered for American oil producers, fleet operators, or construction companies that Cheney was able to deliver from his adventure in Iraq.
On the contrary, the world’s largest importers and consumers of energy in Europe and Asia must find a way to appeal to the one country that holds a dominant position in global oil export supply, and is capable, in an emergency, to direct, or redirect, oil supply through state-controlled pipelines, port loading terminals, and tanker fleets, to its friends and allies – without dependence on American-controlled supplies in the Middle East, or American-guarded seaways. That source of supply is Russia. All the hammering by Niebelungs like Vice-President Cheney cannot conceal that the new American war will end badly. The gods who endowed the underworld with oil and gas reserves appear to have greatly preferred Russia to the United States.