This Week’s Winner

by Nathan Hamm on 6/26/2005 · 7 comments

First saw this at Blogrel and knew it was an instant winner in the ongoing, semi-regular chronicling of what happens when one gets too much oil on the brain. Really, it’s an absolute piece of work. It’s condescending and loaded with conspiracy-theories and factual errors from the first appearance of the word “if” to “miserably.”

Notice that even though the US sourced only 7% of oil imports from this region, Eurasia (comprised of a number of former Soviet republics) has about 35% of proved global gas reserves (in addition to significant proved oil reserves). So why is it that despite not importing significant quantities of gas or oil from Eurasia or Central Asia, the US still has military bases in Kyrgyzstan (landlocked country which borders China), Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; and has struck direct unspecified military cooperation agreements with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan?

You know what? I’m sorry. I try to have a clean mouth and all around here. Blame it on the heat or something, but give me a fucking break. Military bases in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan? Come on dude. You think that China’s so relevant, why not mention that two other countries hosting nonexistent bases are on China’s border?

“Unspecified military cooperation agreements.” Ooooooh… Scary. I guess that can be read as “I can’t break my know-it-all tone I’ve got going on here to actually look it up, but there are military agreements that sound very important if I cloak my ignorance as to what they are behind the suggestion that they are one big secret.” You want help? Try Caspian Guard, Partnership for Peace, and contribution of troops in Iraq (from some of these countries).

And yes, the above is not exactly related to oil. It is highly illustrative of just how little homework can be found in so many words.

What is the underlying strategic intent behind this unprecendented move into a region of zero historical connection and interest to the US?

Is it really in support of the so-called “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, as claimed by the Bush regime? Isn’t it a little odd that so much money is being spent on bases all around this region, to find one guy – Osama Bin Laden? And despite the enormous resources expended, they still can’t find this guy. Maybe they don’t want to find him. After all, if Bin Laden is found, what publicly acceptable reason is there for the US bases to remain in Central Asia?

Maybe it’s more than that? I know that’s a scary thought, and you might want to check with your mommy before reading on, but could it possibly be that the mission is more than to just find Bin Laden and move on? And that, shock of shocks, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the nation-building mission? I mean, for someone who is an implicit cheerleader for Vladimir Putin and Chinese Communist Party, I guess that’s a bad thing, but…

Besides that, there’s a fancy Latin name for this type of thinking. But I think there’s another point to be made. This kind of argument sounds world-weary, properly cynical, cold, hard, realistic… To people who don’t actually know too many facts anyway. It’s kind of cute actually… Like going to the zoo and having one of the monkey’s mimic your movements.

On the other hand, if these bases remain, direct or proxy control of these resource rich countries places a powerful choke hold on energy supplies to the neo-cons’ next big future enemy – China. Now there’s a really plausible reason for spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars…

Proxy control? Again, a fucking break, make with it. We can’t even keep NGO’s running in Uzbekistan, the oft-alleged “great ally” of the United States, and this guy wants you to believe that we stand a snowball’s chance in hell of controlling the place.

But then again, let me mention again that Uzbekistan doesn’t have a ridiculous amount of oil, and that if we’re only around to keep China from getting at some of the oil, we have already failed.

Kazakhstan, the country in Central Asia proper with a lot of oil is already working on increasing exports to China. “Team Neo-con” has apparently failed there too despite the having a base so secret none but the author under discussion knows it exists. But Kazakhstan has an interesting policy in regard to its oil exports. It exports all over the place and involves foreign corporations from all over the world in developing its fields.

Azerbaijan seems pretty committed to sending its oil to its closest markets–not China.

And really, that underlines the silliness of the entire grand conspiratorial vision here. “Europe and Eurasia” is enormous. And using the chart provided by the blogger at issue, here’s how the reserves break down.

So, let me get this straight… The US has two full-fledged bases in what I’m assuming Europe and Eurasia to be (Europe, the former USSR, and Mongolia). These bases are in countries next to a country with significant proved reserves that is committed to selling to many different markets–including through the newly-opened BTC pipeline. One of the countries hosting a base has chilly relations with the US right now, sits atop a stunningly enormous 0.1% of the world’s proved reserves, and has a deal to develop some fields with China.

Meanwhile, the US has a close military relationship with Azerbaijan, a country with not insignificant reserves. But also a country that looks like it will be sending all of its oil west.

And Russia holds well over half of the oil in the region, is wise to the “Team Neo-Con” game as evidenced by the prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and can sell to whomsoever it wishes without the US doing a single damned thing.

Not at all needlessly complex or obviously doomed to failure one bit. Makes total sense. Especially if you think like this guy.

(Joining the OTB Beltway Traffic Jam)


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 5 comments }

Will Franklin June 26, 2005 at 11:06 pm

Great post. I read that over at blogrel, too, and thought the exact thing you wrote.

Bertrand June 27, 2005 at 12:27 am

Sounds like Craig Murray in mufti.

Andy June 27, 2005 at 7:11 am

The US has military bases in both the United Kingdom and Norway, too. Looks like Europe can kiss goodbye to control of 15 billion barrels of North Sea Oil…

Btw – I know that the US did want to negotiate some kind of access use for Almaty airport in Kazakhstan, but it met with local opposition. Do you know what happened to that deal – are they still half-heartedly negotiating, or was the idea abandoned?

david_walther June 27, 2005 at 8:46 am

Wonderful use of the Latin. Seriously, great piece Nathan. Too bad this person is not going to listen to you, too bad all of these people aren’t listening… but I think it’s the magical simplicity of the arguement that draws people: it’s so easy to explain the foreign policy of the world’s only superpower and its relationship to the rest of the world with one word. It’s magical. People like that kind of thing. And plus, it makes it look like you know everything—like the SECRET bases.

You know, I think the problem here is that a few weeks ago a hell of a lot of people discovered that Central Asia exists, and they’re just extending their previous theories to fit this “new world” they had never heard of before. They probably figure they can say whatever they want, too, since obviously because they didn’t know about Central Asia before, nobody else knows anything about it either.

The sad thing is how true it is.

P.S., in case nobody else has noticed, nothing has blown up in Tashkent yet. I asked an Australian friend the other day if he knew why nothing had happened yet, he said, yeah, two words: “American Intelligence.”

I’m starting to get kind of mad. They get us all worked up and nervous, all kinds of people leave the country, even more cancel their trips, they evacuate the families of their own staff (they being the State Department) and then nothing happens. Am I totally fucked up that I am dissapointed by this? I guess I should be glad nothing has happened.

Somebody living in a sane country please slap me in the face.

Nathan June 27, 2005 at 9:19 am

Well, David, the summer is still young.

From what I’ve been told by certain folks, it sounds possible to me that the warning was due to a lot of chatter. There can be lots of that without an attack, but better safe than sorry, I suppose.

For what it’s worth, I’ve told people that if they have plans to go, they should still go.

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