Shell, with unexpected Arctic drilling approval, looks like Obama’s kind of oil company

Backscratch-fest?

Shell-leased rig Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi Sea. (Image: Royal Dutch Shell via LAT)
Shell-leased rig Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi Sea. (Image: Royal Dutch Shell via LAT)

As noted earlier today, the Obama administration on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell “conditional approval” to drill an Arctic oil lease off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea – a move that has environmental groups in a tizzy.

Shell actually gave up on its hopes of drilling in the Arctic a little over a year ago after a setback in federal court, and at the time, environmental groups and the media were satisfied that the situation made sense, given the administration’s well-known posture on environmental issues and energy.

The mainstream media have been silent this week on why the Obama administration, with its pattern of uniform and ruthless hostility to the fossil fuels industry, has given this approval.  Even the New York Times, which is usually able to mouth a narrative planted by administration officials, has offered no explanation. Continue reading “Shell, with unexpected Arctic drilling approval, looks like Obama’s kind of oil company”

Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges

Memorial services for the Pax Americana will be held shortly.

“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” — Ronald Reagan

It made the most news when China did it a few days ago.  But it’s been building for a while, and it’s not just off China.  As the holidays settle in on us, probes of other nations’ sea and air space are in the air.  Is war coming tomorrow?  No.  But whether it comes after tomorrow will depend on more than gestures from that shapeless blob of geopolitical potential that we may now, in a post-superpower world, call the “status quo powers.”  It will depend on the outcomes the status quo powers can secure.

The China Challenge Continue reading “Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges”

Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey: Pax Americana crack-up watch

Here it comes.

If you want to know what it will look like for the status quo crack-up to actually happen, as the stabilizing influence of the Pax Americana fades in the rearview mirror, a recent legislative proposal in Egypt is a good place to start.

Elder of Ziyon caught this a few days ago.  According to regional media, the upper chamber of parliament, the Shura Council, last week approved a bill submitted by MP Khaled Adbel Qader Ouda to invalidate Egypt’s 2003 accord with Cyprus on the maritime demarcation of the two nations’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs).  Ouda’s pretext for doing this is reportedly that Egypt was not “present at the signing” of Cyprus’s later (2010) EEZ accord with Israel.

As Elder notes, it is questionable Continue reading “Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey: Pax Americana crack-up watch”

Sanctions on Iran: Ushering in the post-American world

Unintended consequences.

If you get your news from the mainstream media, you probably think that China – in spite of repeatedly opposing the Western sanctions on Iran – has effectively joined the sanctions effort by cutting oil orders with the Iranians.

In the context of Beijing’s deep involvement in the Iranian oil and gas industry, however, this media narrative is not just invalid, it’s wildly, grotesquely invalid.  China is investing heavily not just in oil and gas, but in other industries in Iran, including arms manufacturing and railway development.  The investment in the oil and gas industry is robust by itself, however.  It is also geographically interesting, and financially interesting. Continue reading “Sanctions on Iran: Ushering in the post-American world”

Seas without a sheriff

No sheriff in town.

Now, in 2011, would be the worst of times for the US Senate to ratify the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS; or, “Law of the Sea Treaty”: LOST).

Ratification would presuppose an internationally agreed maritime order into which the US was buying.  The nature of that order is tacitly supposed to be one of agreements, definitions, and legalities; in essence, the form of international order to which the United Nations was intended to give impetus.

Realities of maritime order

But no such order exists, nor has it ever.  There is no overarching order for the US to buy into: Continue reading “Seas without a sheriff”