||Issue No. 321||25 August 2006|
Interview: A Life And Death Matter
Unions: Fighting Back
Industrial: What Cowra Means
Environment: Scrambling for Energy Security
Politics: Page Turner
Economics: The State of Labour
International: Workers Blood For Oil
History: Liberty in Spain
Review: Go Roys, Make A Noise
The Locker Room
While Howard's partners in the Triad of the Trying have endured serious political damage from the Iraqi misadventure, the track-suited one strides through the quagmire unsoiled.
With the rationale for war exposed as a lie, an ongoing Civil War morphing into conflict across the region unifying Sunni and Shi-ite factions against the West, Howard has played a decisive role in making the world a more dangerous place.
Perhaps it is the absence of Australian body bags, apart from those that get lost; maybe a reaction to the previous Labor leader's over-blown anti-Americanism; or just a testament to Australia's increasingly insular self-absorption.
Now with the unrelenting upward spiral of petrol prices, surely the game must me up. But there he is shrugging his shoulders, saying petrol price are out of his hands and telling people to fill their boot with an LPG converter.
To his credit, Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd has begun taking on the PM on his Pontius Pilot act, drawing on the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who argues the Iraq war has significantly impacted on global oil prices.
First, it has added significantly to wider instability in the Middle East with a flow-on effect to the risks in investing in oil exploration, extraction and production in that region; and secondly, the fact that Iraq's oil production itself had dropped to less than half its output compared with pre-war production levels.
Academic John Matthews adds detail to this argument in a recent article in Online Opinion.
"Before the war, Iraq was pumping around 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. Before the war, US Vice President Dick Cheney predicted that Iraq's oil output would return to 3 million barrels per day by the end of 2003.
"It has never made it back to pre-war levels, and in January 2006 it was down to 1 million barrels per day, with constant attacks on pipelines and oil installations by the Iraqi resistance.
"A loss of 1 to 2 million barrels per day has not been made up by other oil-producing countries. OPEC is at full stretch, while producers such as Indonesia are falling behind in their race to remain oil independent. This is where the effect of peaking oil supplies may be felt - in the inability of OPEC countries to ramp up their oil supplies in the face of rising prices.
"The makers of the decision to invade Iraq and establish a "democratic regime" - to which John Howard made Australia a party as a member of the "Coalition of the Willing" - cannot escape the consequences of their actions.
"Apart from the debated aspects of this Iraq adventure, such as an increased risk of terrorist attacks (rather than their containment), there is one unambiguous and incontrovertible fact about the Iraq War - and that is the reduction in oil output that has led to rising oil prices."
That's one part of the mystery solved: the more glaring riddle is why the media allows the PM to keeps on walking, when his people can no longer afford to drive.
As industrial relations is the pathway of economic management to the kitchen table, so is petrol prices the way global politics gets a seat. It is a political opportunity that should not be squandered.
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