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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Connect the dots

On her Saturday Air America radio show, Laura Flanders challenges "Where's the journalism, people? It's deal cutting time". This in response to the Bush-Putin meeting. She goes on, paraphrasing:
Bush and Putin meet for an hour and a half. Were they talking about democracy for all that time? I don't think so. They were talking about oil.

  1. Before the Iraq war: "President Vladimir Putin has assured LUKoil, the nation's largest oil producer, that its valuable assets in Iraq will be protected whether or not Saddam Hussein is driven from power", LUKoil president Vagit Alekperov told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday. (link)

  2. February 18: "Conoco has just boosted its stake to 10 percent and continues to buy. I think they're going to close the transaction and increase the stake to 20 percent within a year," LUKOIL Vice President Leonid Fedun told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in London. (link)

  3. Press conference transcript: "We also discussed the issues relating to Russia-U.S. energy dialogue. We've had some progress in this area, some good progress. We're going to continue this dialogue. Some issues have been positively resolved in terms of expanding the operation of U.S. companies in Russian energy markets. ConocoPhilips, as you know, has bought a stake in Lukoil, one of the major Russian oil companies. It bought a stake that used to belong to the Russia state. This happened recently, and I'm confident that this will be a success story, both for Russian and U.S. partners." said George W. Bush. (link)

  4. Yesterday:"LUKoil is planning to initiate negotiations to confirm its participation in development of the West Qurna oil field in Iraq as soon as the country's government has been formed, Vaghit Alekperov, head of LUKoil, stated yesterday. LUKoil owns 68.5 percent of shares in the development project of one of the world's largest oil fields - West Qurna, with oil reserves estimated at 20bn barrels." (link)

Notice that Bush talked about Russian "energy markets". Remember: Russia's energy markets don't necessarily reside in Russia. As Noam Chomsky has remarked, when somebody says the words "world trade" or international partnerships it doesn't necessarily mean a straightforward transaction of goods or resources between two countries has occurred.
So, for example, Ford Motor Company will have components manufactured here in the US and then ship them for assembly to a plant in Mexico where the workers get much lower wages and where Ford doesn't have to worry about pollution, unions and all that nonsense. Then they ship the assembled part back here.

About half of what are called US exports to Mexico are intrafirm transfers of this sort. They don't enter the Mexican market, and there's no meaningful sense in which they're exports to Mexico. Still, that's called "trade."

So, if we connect the dots around Bush's elliptical ramblings, the US needs to get in on the action or risk losing control of an Iraq source of oil.

other bits
WFMU radio has an audio archive of Chomsky illustrating how to parse globalization new-speak from a Cambridge talk he gave last month.

Also, kudos to Los Angeles station KTLK 1150AM for carrying AirAmerica. On travel, I noted that one days programming consisted of Marc Maron/Mark Riley railing against Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil exploration in the morning, Thom Hartman (subbing for Randi Rhodes) spearing rethug callers who questioned climate change concerns in the afternoon, and Sam Sedar/Janeane interviewing Jared Diamond in the evening. Why would anyone even consider listening to NPR for important issues anymore?


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