General discussion


Is Islam imploding just as the USSR did?

By jardinier ·
I lifted this link from the "Holocaust Denial" thread.

Irshad Manji:The Trouble with Islam: A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change (Random House) or her website

We know that there is a general move back to fundamentalism in parts of the Muslim world, paralled by a strong move back to fundamentalism in parts of the Christian world -- especially the USA.

An excerpt from a review in says the author is "striving to explore a culture and civilization whose inward collapse has given rise to a militant creed at war with the modern world."

So, is it possible that Islam will self-destruct before it does major damage to the rest of the world?

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I suspect, Jules,

by neilb@uk In reply to Is Islam imploding just a ...

that it might self-destruct after it has done major damage to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, they are sitting on most of the oil and unless (until? I don't think so) we in the West can wean ourselves off our reliance on oil, they have us - literally - over a barrel.


"May you live in interesting times". Old Chinese curse. Interesting times we all live in, aren't they?

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Interesting Times

by DMambo In reply to I suspect, Jules,

I had never heard that curse before, but it seems very appropriate. Many times I lament the routine in my life, but I appreciate it when I stop to consider that at this stage in my life, most major events tend to be bad news. Going another day with my kids home safe, when I do not learn of another friend with cancer, when I still have my job, etc is a GOOD day.

As far as Islam imploding, don't think it will happen in our lifetimes. 600 million people can't all be wrong (or can they?). It seems that Orwell's constant wars will be between religions rather than countries.

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Over a barrel? I don't think so.

by maxwell edison In reply to I suspect, Jules,

While I understand the sentiment of saying that the middle-east oil barons have us "over a barrel", I wouldn't be so sure of that, at least not to such an extreme degree. Of course, I'm speaking of the USA, not other nations that might be even MORE dependent on middle-east oil.

Them selling us oil is a win-win situation. We get their oil, and they get our money. To cut-off the flow of oil in one direction, would cut-off the flow of money in the other. They want (and need) our money just as much -- OR MORE -- than we want (and need) their oil.

The United States gets only about 20 percent of our oil from the middle-east, if my memory serves me correctly, the other 80 percent coming from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and that which is produced domestically. And while 20 percent is certainly a significant number, it's not one that would cut us at the jugular, so to speak.

If, by some chance, we (the rest of the world) were cut off from that particular supply of oil, one of two things (or both) would happen. In the USA, I'm sure we could increase our own production, open new fields and such, take drastic conservation measures, and put alternative fuel development on the fast-track. AND/OR, considering that most ALL major wars have been waged over territory or resources (or both), I'm sure we could collectively figure out a way to restore the flow of oil to the rest of the world.

Personally, I'd like to see us (the U.S.) cut ourselves off from buying any more middle-east oil, and I believe it could be done in a period of time that would not have to exceed ~20 years. Of course, I'm certainly no expert in that regard, and I'm just pulling those opinions out of my "oil well".

A national challenge, similar to the lofty lunar challenge issued by President Kennedy in 1961, is what we need. If a charismatic politician, from EITHER major party, were to seriously address the issue, and present a somewhat viable plan to advance the goal, instead of the usual silly rhetoric that we've been hearing for decades, it would be very well received. And after all, when President Kennedy issued that challenge in 1961, there were absolutely no plans to go to the moon, and nobody at NASA had any idea how they could pull it off. "We're gonna' do what?", was NASA's initial reaction. And combine the old adage that necessity is the mother of all invention with a burning desire to achieve a particular goal, anything can be made to happen -- even go to the moon! And we could do it without one drop of middle-east oil.

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We would need to start the process now

by Montgomery Gator In reply to Over a barrel? I don't th ...

There is a good bit of lead time to get new oil reserves developed, and time is wasting. For example, an estimate that is often quoted is that it would take 10 years from beginning the process to when the first oil would be flowing from ANWR (I think it could be cut to 5 years or less if enough effort is put to it). That means we need to get it developed immediately. Same with offshore reserves off the coasts of Florida, California, and other places currently not being developed due to restrictions and political concerns.

Efforts are already underway to develop the Alberta Oil Sands, to the benefit of both Canada and the United States.

At the same time, we do need to start developing alternative sources, such as oil shale, coal (both coal-fired power plants and coal conversion to distillates and natural gas), and nuclear to get away from conventional oil and natural gas. The United States has coal in abundance, more than any other country.

Hopefully we can get all this done before Iran goes nuclear or other troubles that might arise.

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You're right about one thing

by M_a_r_k In reply to Over a barrel? I don't th ...

The Middle East countries need our dollars as much as we need their oil. If they were to suddenly cut us off totally, they wouldn't be able to find buyers to replace the oil they had been selling to us. That will hurt them financially quite severely. Other countries won't suddenly shift oil purchases from their current sources to the Middle East just because there is an abundant supply of oversold oil there. Unless the Middle East countries drop prices to entice other buyers. That would put downward pressure, not upward, on global oil prices. The result would be that the Middle East countries would be selling the same amount of oil as before but with less revenue. A sudden loss of Middle East oil would create havoc for the U.S. for a while but we'd eventually find other sources.

The best and only long-term solution is for the entire world (not just the U.S.) to get their act together and figure out a solution to this dedendence on fossil fuel.

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Over a barrel?

by neilb@uk In reply to Over a barrel? I don't th ...

If the whole oil-producing Middle East were to go seriously pear-shaped in the next couple of decades or earlier - to the extent that the Saudis are involved - the effect on the world economy would be catastrophic. Your country - and mine - is in no way immune to this.

Actually, it wouldn't take that much, just a concerted effort by Al Qaeda, targeting foreign Saudi-based oil workers and vulnerable oil installations. Nigerian terrorists are on the brink of that sort of action right now and they supply a about 8% of your imports. We all know how good we are at catching terrorists.

Were Saudi production seriously cut back or lost completely the price of crude would immediately top $100pb and accelerate from there. The world economy would go into a tailspin.

I'm considerably less sure than you are about the ability of Western nations to easily deal with this sort of issue. I remember the 1973 oil crisis and, at that time, the US reliance on imports was far less than it is now. I remember the sudden, vicious inflation and rapid, deep economic recession. Both in 1973 and 1979, I don't remember a particularly successful action by your government or, and maybe you can prove me wrong, much concerted, organised effort from citizens to deal with the crisis. I know that in the UK, it was totally shambolic despite the fact that the Saudis didn't embargo oil exports to the UK.

A BBC report last year stated that British government documents from the 1970s reveal that the United States considered invading Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the crisis and seizing the oil fields in those countries. Is that what you'd do this time?

Your idea for a National Challenge is great. It would do very good things for the environment and have a knock-on effect in making we environmentalists happy with you (as if you cared), have a wonderful effect on your deficit and just be plain good news.

But sorry, Max. I'm not nearly so optimistic about the ability of the US to weather another oil crisis without serious social disruption and I fear that you'd do something as stupid as the invasion of Iraq. You won't be able to reduce consumption quickly and smoothly enough and I'm worried that you'd strike out from Iraq to "safeguard" supplies at which point China would feel threatened.


I'm also interested in your suggestion that this would be similar to Kennedy's idea to put a man on the Moon. God forbid that it would be so!

I'm an avid techno-junkie, especially regarding space, and yet I consider the American space programme - outside of wars - the biggest waste of money and resources since the Pyramids. To quote Larry Niven "If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we put a man on the moon?". It was a political stunt, nothing more. Although it succeeded, the most stupid means possible were employed to achieve the goal and everything that was used has been scrapped as useless. We couldn't put a man on the Moon now. How stupid is that?

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On the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo

by maxwell edison In reply to Over a barrel?

I remember that very well, at least the gasoline lines and such. But the factors that contributed to that crisis included more than just the oil embargo. Among other things, there were price freezes in place (thanks to President Nixon), so the dynamics of supply and demand were not allowed to work to help control the situation. Generally speaking, for example, when supplies are low, prices go up, as they (the gasoline prices) should have in 1973-74. But the prices, by law at that time, had to remain fixed, so the demand that would have surely fallen due to higher prices did not, thus the long lines. I had two vehicles at that time, a 1972 El Camino and a 1973 Honda motorcycle. Suffice it to say, I didn't drive that El Camino too much, and living in Arizona at the time, made me an easy rider on my motorcycle.

It would be interesting to read-up on the oil crisis of 1973-74, as other factors contributed as well, such as that little skirmish between Egypt and Israel. I might also add that the 1973 Arab oil embargo is what finally convinced our Congress to approve our Alaskan oil pipeline, something that was struggling to get approval. Perhaps another interruption similar to the one in 1973 might get them off their stupid butts and approve expansion into ANWR and other fields.

Nonetheless, I would have to think that we're better prepared to deal with that kind of threat today. For one thing, we have a relatively cozy relationship with the Saudis, something for which the Bush family, for some idiotic reason, has taken a lot of heat and criticism. (Well, it's not idiotic, but political. Okay, it is idiotic then.) And another thing, we have a pretty good foot-hold in the area right now (no thanks to our Canadian neighbors), so we can pretty much guarantee the free flow of oil to the entire world for years to come. (Although we should be taking steps to reduce world-wide demand, and yes, that includes in the USA.) But there would have to be a total political meltdown in the middle-east to cause such a situation again -- something like an Iran versus Israel nuclear bout. But Israel would kick their butts, so maybe it wouldn't be all bad.

But Neil, as I'm sure you know, I'm the eternal optimist. And regardless of the crisis, there will be (or should be) a clear and obvious path that presents itself. Problems are seldom real problems, but rather wake-up calls to shine the light onto something that's not been addressed and/or properly addressed, and/or opportunities to make positive change. And it's people like me who will get people like you through the next oil crisis, albeit inconvenienced a bit, totally unscathed. (If, of course, there ever is another one.) So not to worry, Neil. We'll take care of ya'll (yuk yuk yuk).

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by maxwell edison In reply to Over a barrel?

Catastrophic? Catastrophic? Catastrophic? Catastrophic?

I think you are embellishing just a bit, Neil. Painful and difficult, yes. Catastrophic, no way.

If another oil embargo would be "catastrophic", what would you call a simultaneous nuclear attack in a dozen world cities? What's worse than catastrophic?

That's why I suggest you're embellishing a bit.

Besides, I thought global warming cornered the market on catastrophic?

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No wait....

by faradhi In reply to Catastrophic?

Global warming may be catastrophic. It is not yet. It is just a really annoying right now to both sides of the debate.

The Pros are getting a little hot under the collar because the Con are stating there is no such thing.
And the Cons are a little hot because they worry Global Warming is just some Liberal, Commie, Dem, Pinko way to further Environmental reform.

I have no comment either way because it leaves me laugh at both sides. Life is sweet B-)

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Life is sweet

by neilb@uk In reply to No wait....

But only because you're a good long way above sea level!

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