Mankind is addicted to Oil, and like any addiction, it is killing us.
In my last book, “A TRAGIC FATE: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation,” I explored the link between the unbridled competition by the US and Russia and how it contributed to the loss of Malaysian Flight 17, shot down by Russian-backed rebels over the Ukraine. The tentacles of the Oil and Gas monsters affect and corrupt every aspect of government, media, public discourse and international relations to such a degree that such interference and corruption alone should be enough to compel the divestment from oil and gas to clean and long term sustainable sources of energy.
In little more than a century the lust-fever pursuit of oil and gas drives or shadows virtually every aspect of geo-politics and a vast amount of domestic American politics. An over-simplification?
At the end of the last century and now into this one the control of global gas and oil reserves predicts and defines national, corporate and individual fortunes. The Saudi government would collapse without it. The West would divest itself of much of the Mideast, fomenting East Africa style poverty. Central Asian nations and former Soviet territories would collapse in turmoil. Of course, ISIS would lose a source of income. These are the symptoms of addiction, with the necessary withdrawals almost unthinkable.
What’s more, that oil is mixed with the blood of millions already killed in wars for oil, or murdered at the hands of oil rich regimes, or from pollution related health issues, or from ever strengthening climate change catastrophes, such as Hurricane Sandy, excessive heat waves, the gulf oil spill or Pacific mega-cyclones. That blood and oil stains the hands even of American presidents and haunts the 2016 election.
Take, for example, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline opened in July, 2006. The BTC pipeline transports crude oil more than a thousand miles from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. That oil is pumped from Azerbaijan towards Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to a port on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The BTC pipeline is the second longest oil pipeline in the world, second only to the Druzba pipeline between Russia to central Europe.
This story isn’t about the oil as much as the players, and those players include a current US presidential candidate. The Shah Deniz gas field is one of BP’s largest discoveries. It lies just offshore in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan’s territorial waters. The leader of that country is president Ilham Aliyev. Documents leaked from the Panamanian firm Mossack-Fonseco earlier this year detail a virtual looting of the Azerbaijan economy by Aliyev and his family, with numerous offshore accounts, luxury apartments in London, Paris and Dubai totally some $60 million USD, and much more. Aliyev’s 11 year old son, according to the Washington Post and UK’s Daily Mail owns 9 waterfront mansions. A US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks in 2010 described him as a mafia crime boss. According to Human Rights groups he has increased repression and possibly even murder against dissidents, political rivals and journalists.
So why is John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign connected to Aliyev? Podesta resume speaks volumes on just exactly what drives American policy. After serving as Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Podesta was reprised, this time in the roll of Counselor to Barack Obama. In 1988 be cofounded The Podesta Group, a Washington DC-based PR and lobbying firm with brother Tony. Clients include Bank of America, Wal-Mart, BP, Coal and Nuclear giant polluter-Duke Energy, Raytheon, the authoritarian regime in Albania, Sunoco and the country of Georgia. Since 2014, curiously corresponding to the war and US involvement there, including Joe Biden and John Kerry’s sons, ostensibly in competition with Russia over Oil and gas fields. They also receive some $60, 000 monthly to support the corrupt and oppressive regime of Aliyev in Azerbaijan.
Democrat? Hardly. The Podesta group plays both sides of the aisle. While the firm maintains close ties with the DNC and the current, and perhaps incoming, administration, its CEO, Kimberley Fritts is described as “a fixture in Republican politics.” Fritts worked for former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush in 1994, and continued fundraising and lobbying congress for him through his failed campaign in 2015.
In March the editor-in-chief of the opposition Monitor magazine, Elmar Huseynov, was assassinated. That followed the beating death of Azerbaijani journalist Rasim Aliyev last August. The Aliyev government denied any link to the murder, but journalists and human rights groups closely monitoring Azerbaijan’s political climate aren’t buying it. According to Eurasianet, “One of Azerbaijan’s best known dissident journalists, Huseynov had frequently tangled with authorities.”
The view that this was a political murder is supported by Human Rights Watch. The US embassy in Baku described Huseynov as “a dedicated champion of media freedom” and “a man who stood up for his beliefs and principles, even in the face of great adversity.” And yet the man possibly responsible for that assassination is doing business with a US lobbying firm with direct connections to the Obama Administration and with the Hillary Clinton Campaign.
It would seem, viewed through that lens, that Mrs. Clinton is merely continuing the same flawed and blood-soaked policies in the region as Obama. Certainly the relationship between Azerbaijan and neighboring Iran are a part of the equation, but then so are the rising military tensions between the US and Russia as the two compete bitterly oil and gas reserves and for regional power.that does not portend a positive future for the people or their prospects for democratic reforms. Such are the prices to be paid for addiction.
And so it seems that human rights and democracy are completely negotiable in the face of oil and gas, and geo-political positioning to the detriment of millions of lives, whether snuffed out for those resources or for those forced to endure brutal and oppressive regimes. in such a scenario it almost makes ISIS appear less as criminals as modern day Robin Hoods. Almost, but not quite.