Home > Roundup > Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Oil, war, torture, privatization, and politics

Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Oil, war, torture, privatization, and politics

Oil and the origins of the ‘War to make the world safe for Democracy’. At first almost unnoticed after 1850, then with significant intensity after the onset of the Great Depression of 1873 in Britain, the sun began to set on the British Empire. By the end of the 19th Century, though the City of London remained undisputed financier of the world, British industrial excellence was in terminal decline. The decline paralleled an equally dramatic rise of a new industrial Great Power on the European stage, the German Reich. Germany soon passed England in output of steel, in quality of machine tools, chemicals and electrical goods. Beginning the 1880’s a group of leading German industrialists and bankers around Deutsche Bank’s Georg von Siemens, recognized the urgent need for some form of colonial sources of raw materials as well as industrial export outlet. With Africa and Asia long since claimed by the other Great Powers, above all Great Britain, German policy set out to develop a special economic sphere in the imperial provinces of the debt-ridden Ottoman Empire. (F. William Engdahl, Geopolitics-Geoeconomics)

Even CATO libertarians say energy deregulation does not work. In an Op-Ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal last month (and is available in full to non-subscribers on CATO’s website) two CATO economists specialised in deregulation and energy markets provide a breath of fresh air in the debates on energy. Their point is to criticize the poorly thought out deregulation in various US States over the past 15 years, and they explain clearly how energy markets work (something which is rare enough in the mainstream media), and what the consequences of various bits of deregulation are on market behavior and thus on electricity prices. (Jerome A. Paris, The Oil Drum)

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says it supports Iraqi oil unions. The Iraqi Kurds’ oil minister, in contrast to the federal oil minister, says what’s best for Iraq is to embrace the oil unions. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has ordered the ministry’s companies and departments to cease dealings with the oil unions. “The trade unions in Iraq now are illegal till the new law is passed by the Parliament,” Shahristani told UPI, referring to a new labor law called for in the Constitution but that has not materialized. Ashti Hawrami, minister of natural resources for the Kurdistan Regional Government, told UPI his region’s law has incorporated local worker requirements, and unions are key to that. (Ben Lando, UPI)

Torture Endorsed, Torture Denied. Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson School of Law says that the Bush administration’s repeated insistence that it has not endorsed the torture of prisoners rings hollow in light of newly-disclosed US Department of Justice memos supporting the harshest techniques the CIA has ever used. (Marjorie Cohn, The Vineyard of the Saker)

Hizbollah and the Lebanese Crisis. The Lebanese crisis has receded from the headlines but has not gone away. Today, all eyes are on the presidential election, the latest arena in the ongoing struggle between pro- and anti-government forces. Yet even if a compromise candidate is found, none of the country’s underlying problems will have been addressed, chief among them the status of Hizbollah’s weapons. If the election is to be more than a mere prelude to the next showdown, all parties and their external allies need to move away from maximalist demands and agree on a package deal that accepts for now Hizbollah’s armed status while constraining the ways in which its weapons can be used. (International Crisis Group)

Indian Patents: Doing Just Fine. In early August, the Madras High Court dismissed Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis’ claim that a section of Indian patent law was unconstitutional. In the aftermath of the decision, one image stood out: the MNC pharmaceutical lobby, with its tropical agents in tow, raising a big stick to beat an errant country. In a situation rife with speculation, we should know that we have no reason to cower. (Chan Park & Achal Prabhala, Tehelka)

Book Review: Are Diplomats Necessary? Diplomacy is one of the world’s oldest professions, although diplomatic practice as we know it is a relatively recent development. Using ambassadors and envoys, often distinguished personalities of the time (Dante, Machiavelli, Peter Paul Rubens), was an accepted practice throughout recorded history. It was also regarded, in Europe at least, as “a kind of activity morally somewhat suspect and incapable of being brought under any system.” The establishment of the international rules of diplomacy, including the immunity of diplomats, began with the Congresses of Vienna (1815) and Aix-la-Chapelle (1818). The rules were a European creation gradually adopted in the rest of the world. Further international conventions update them from time to time. Diplomats have enjoyed a surprising degree of immunity from criticism for the often violent and disorderly state of international affairs. (Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books)

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