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McCain, Oil Companies and Western Intervention in Libya
April 23rd, 2011
While the populous Arab uprising for the most part was civil in nature, the revolution in Libya took a different turn. The absence of militarized revolution in Tunisia and Egypt helped sustain the movement, eventually leading to the demise of two dictators.

But unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Libya is an oil producer. It ranks number 17 among the oil producing countries, number four in Africa and number 9 in the world’s proven oil reserve. Whilst Western powers interest in Egypt is strategic, in Libya it’s economic.

Following the Libyan crises, oil companies made up for the immediate shortage in the oil market from available capacities in larger oil producing countries such a Saudi Arabia. Notwithstanding, the oil companies advanced a hypothesis of market uncertainty to justify military intervention and propagating fear regarding the sustainability of oil supply. Hence, increasing oil prices to levels have not been seen since 2008. Making oil companies the ones reaping the most financial benefits from the ashes of war.

Meanwhile, creating an environment of insecurity to rationalize the use of Western ground forces to eventually control the new Libya. A plan manifested by the performance of the NATO military raids on Libya: using enough power to keep Qaddafi’s forces at bay, but not a complete defeat. Thus, forcing the opposition to allow limited form of ground intervention, called “Military Advisors” after rejecting similar offers for the last two months.

The same jargon was used in the late 50s when American military advisors were sent to South Vietnam to help against the North, perpetuating that country’s division and leading to a long painful war.  In Libya’s case, the geographical positioning was transmuted to East housing the opposition and West for the Qaddafi forces.

It took more than four years for full blown military intervention in Vietnam following the first advisors. How long will it be before the NATO military advisors are metamorphosed to full blown military intervention in Libya? I dare to say much less than four years, for the world’s market cannot tolerate higher oil prices for extended period and oil companies can’t wait that long before tapping on Libya’s oil potentials.

But one can also argue that there are consistent and unambiguous messages from NATO pundits, in both the USA and Europe, rejecting any military intervention with ground forces. Seemingly true, however since when military interventions have become overt public policies? George Bush kept denying the existing of plans to attack Iraq until short days before invading the country.

The question remains however, why? Even though the Libyan leader was tamed by American standards, the people’s revolt left Western’s powers with no option but to ride the wave of change in the Arab world. Case and point, John McCain a top recipients of oil donor money in the US senate advocates today stronger US intervention; in 2009 he was special guest at Qaddafi’s infamous tent calling, then, for stronger relations with the regime.

McCain then and now represented not the interest of his constituency, but that of the oil companies’ donors who bloated his campaign’s funds with cash. Likewise, broader ground force intervention becomes a necessity to maintain a firm leash on the new regime and to ensure oil supply; a good rationalization to justify wider intervention at the heel of the advanced “Military Advisors.”

The destruction of the oil industrial complex and public infrastructure creates new opportunities for oil companies to build new production centers, and compels Libya to increase the level of oil production to pay for the rebuilding efforts. Ostensibly win/win where oil companies finally succeed on tapping Libya’s proven oil reserves, resulting in a first classes return on the Oil Companies’ investment in the US campaign funds.