Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tokyo Event Report: Juan Cole, Iraq as a Global Crisis

Dr Cole was just in Japan and giving a seminar to some folks and I begged asked him to do a short talk for us here in Tokyo. On Saturday 50 people got together for some brunch, a speech and some q&a.

His talk was only about 40 minutes, but it was chock full of information. He began by outlining the reasons for the invasion, oil. Describing the worlds over dependence on oil and how as a historian he understood the rise and fall of oil prices to be cyclical and once the U.S. left Iraq it would decline. After-all it was 15-16 dollars just a few years after Gulf War I. He has since come to understand that with factors such as oil production peaking which is now widely believed to have been achieved, China and India soon to become even larger consumers of oil than the United State, that we will never see oil as cheap ever again. He described Cheney's introduction to the dark side when he spent 5 years in Houston under the tutelage of the oil industry. Cheney now has a mission. He is an incredibly incompetent fuck so, its been a total disaster but, he is on a mission. Dr Cole thinks that the purpose behind sending the neocon-ette's to Baghdad was to attempt for oil companies to actually own oil fields again. Oil fields rumored to be as large as Saudi Arabia. Something they haven't been able to do for more than 30 years. Not since the fields were mostly nationalized. It's his belief that Cheney was trying to grab the oil before China and India cut the U.S. out.

He doesn't think that alternative energy will be able to fill that gap quickly enough. He quoted a Detroit engineer who say he didn't think that alternative energies would really account for more than 20-30% of energy needs even by 2030. Can't say as I agree, there are many ill-informed people on alternative energy many of them work for the car industry in Michigan. I would like to see us put a fraction of the trillion dollars we are and will continue to spend on Iraq on innovation in alternative energy, fuel cells, solar, hydrogen storage, etc. He and I also discussed how abysmally wrong he is on withdrawal ;) He believes a much slower withdrawal that keeps a large scale civil or regional war from happening is necessary. I tried to make it clear we can control the air without having to actually be in Baghdad and that his mother quite possibly wears combat boots. There was also large quantity of alcohol consumed. I am pretty sure he made it back to his hotel.

It was an excellent event and there were some great questions asked in the almost 40 minute q&a. There is video and when its done getting done whatever it is that those people do to it I will provide a link. Like I said after YearlyKos Dr. Cole is a very good speaker and I highly recommend getting him to speak at a local event for yourselves.

We also sold out of his book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East which again, I highly recommend. The parallels are very interesting.

Also read his piece in Salon -- The collapse of Bush's foreign policy.