When What Couldn’t Happen… Happened!

Rafe Mair (Canada)
Strategic Culture Foundation

Tuesday January 23, 2013.

Today, with the weather was cold and clear in Washington, D.C. as Barak Obama was sworn in for his second term after a landslide victory where he carried all but two states. He had capitalized on his stern warnings that the United States had to get, in American football parlance, into a “hurry up offence” to wean itself off its reliance on oil as offshore supplies were looking less and less reliable.

That very afternoon, reminiscent of the day Jimmy Carter heard on the day his hated rival Ronald Reagan was inaugurated that on Iran had released its American hostages, the new fundamentalist Peoples Islamic Republic of Arabia (formerly Saudi Arabia) announced it was reducing its oil exports to the US 10% each month until the US withdrew all support, financial and military, of Israel. Mr. Obama pointed out that while out of the 30 million barrels a day the US consumes (up since he first became president in spite of efforts to reduce consumption) Saudi Arabia supplied 1.5 million barrels slightly more than Venezuela and about the same as Mexico. That day oil traded just under $200 per barrel but instantly went up to $225 on the news from Arabia. The president, in warning about the crisis, took solace in the fact that its largest supplier at just under 3 million bbls, was their old and faithful friend, Canada...

Thursday, July 4, 2013, on the nations birthday, and as oil broke through the $300 mark. President Obama put the nation on a national emergency basis on the announcement by President Chavez of Venezuela that “in light of continuing Yankee interference with Latin American affairs, Venezuela will, in the absence of “improvement” by the US, cut off all oil supplies”. This, along with continuing unrest in Mexico, was, in the president’s words, “very grave news indeed.”

The New York Times in its lead editorial asked “What went wrong? What had happened to the will to reduce reliance on oil which had peaked back in 2009?”

The Canadian ambassador, in an op-ed article, pointed out that this was similar to the collapse of the cod fishery on the east coast of Canada in 2002 when fishermen demonstrated unto near riot in protest against the government closing the fishery, demanding the right to fish even though there were none left. “Human nature”, observed the ambassador, “has no end to its ability to go into denial.”

December 24, 2013. President Obama announced that earlier that day the 7th US airborne had landed in Northern Alberta, Canada, near the “tar sands” and had sent small contingents of troops into Edmonton and Victoria, the capitals of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia respectively. Mr. Obama, in a terse note to the Canadian ambassador said “no great nation, least of all the United States of America, can tolerate any country cutting off its oil supply. Once our imports from Canada are increased we will withdraw our forces leaving only a “token” presence.”

This was not, incidentally, the first time the US had invaded Canada. It did in 1775 and again in 1812 in the war known by that date. Each time they were sent packing but in those days Canada was a British colony and Britannia still ruled the waves.

How could this have happened?

In Northern Alberta there is a huge mud pie except the mud is caused by oil not water. As early as 1956 when I briefly worked for Imperial Oil the huge deposits of this goop were spoken about. (I left Edmonton upon learning that unlike Vancouver, my native city, Alberta has real winters).

The tar sands are prohibitively expensive to “mine” and besides, easy access oil in Alberta would never end. All this changed when oil went over $100 and almost overnight, the tar sands were the new “find”. Even though the oil was hugely difficult to extract and refine, and the largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the world, it was huckedly buck and away we go!

How did this lead to the US Canada border, called the longest undefended border in the world, being violated?

You must go back to the spring of 2010 and an item in the business news that China had invested $2 billion in these tar sands. A pipeline to the Pacific Coast was needed and this from the builder: “Enbridge envisages two parallel 1,170-kilometre pipelines between northern Alberta and Kitimat, B.C. One would carry 525,000 barrels a day of oil westward, largely from the oilsands. The eastward line would transport 193,000 barrels a day of imported condensate, used to thin heavy petroleum products moving by pipeline.”

There was hell to pay with aboriginal and environmental groups that protested, sometimes physically, not only because the pipeline encroached on wildlife grazing grounds but over the dangerously loaded tankers moving south along the treacherous British Columbia coast. It was only in August 2012 that the Supreme Court of Canada, in a rare move which caught everyone by surprise, turned aside Aboriginal complaints. This was immediately followed by the federal government ordering construction to begin.

Up until this time no one really foresaw that this would mean trouble. After all, all oil from the tar sands until the pipeline came went south of the border; what could go wrong!

China. Most of the oil through the pipeline was destined for China. The US government needed this oil and meant to get it. For two years Obama threatened dreadful things including high tariffs against Canadian goods notwithstanding NAFTA. Nothing worked.

As the short but devastating debate moved on, Canada asked China to intervene thinking that the huge US debt to that country would help. China reminded Canada of two things: it’s a hell of a long way from China to the oil sands and while China was the US banker, it had to be remembered that a bank’s largest asset is what is owed to it; that if China were to reduce the value of the US dollar it would be, so to speak, pooping in its own nest.

This it came to pass that for third time the US invaded Canada and there was no one there to help.


URL: http://www.a-w-i-p.com/index.php/2010/04/21/when-what-couldn-t-happen-happened


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