Oil & Food

The price of a barrel of crude oil is going up every day.  The wells are, odly enough, exactly in those places where social unrest and protest against authoritarian regimes is strongest. Coincidence? What becomes clear is that the so called civilized world has been shamelessly dealing with cronies from Bahrein to Tripoli and from Algiers to Caracas. (Is the Venezuelan street the next stage of violent protest? I wouldn’t be surprized.) We, the rich countries, have closed our eyes and are now forced to open them for a new reality. Bit slow, bit false, bit embarassing.

Isn’t it dreadful to see how Italy, Turkey and other nations that have invested trillions in Libya are more worried about the end of their priviliged relation with the Qaddafi-clan than about the fate of the Libyan people? Oil, the curse for civilized behaviour! How convenient to hide behind barrels instead of denouncing political incorrectness long before the locals in the oil producing countries stand up. From oil to dictatorship to protest to chaos to transparency at last?

In the meantime the price of food is going up in about the same pace as the price of black gold (and inflation). Civil unrest in oil producing countries thus creates huge economical problems all over the world, which can lead to more social unrest in countries like China, India, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil. Yes, the upcoming economies, in which we seem to trust. But make children hungry and the parents’ instinct will beat the ratio. The West is worried about the influx of refugees from North Africa? About the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood? We should be worried about the global street power and its huge impact. Keep the price of bread low, make sure the crops are good, feed the people everywhere if you want a bit pof peace left…That is the priority of the EU, the UN, the US. Wake up in your air conditioned offices! Sponsor farmers wherever you can instead of loosing precious time at  conferences on the health of pigs and the bonusses of bankers. Priority! Priority!

1 Reactie
  • Theodoor Bakker
    Geplaatst op 22:19h, 24 februari Beantwoorden

    Hi Mark

    Very interesting view and I agree with most of what you say, and certainly with where you are coming from. Two observations:

    – let’s not overrate the influence of the current turmoil in Lybia on the oil price. Lybia may serve 10% of Europe’s oil needs, but only 2% of world demand. The current rapid rise is probably caused by speculators. Once the Saudi’s are being called to task it is of course a different matter.

    – I’m not sure you should include Indonesia in your list of countries that might be affected or infected by this movement. First, Indonesia went through its own mild “durian revolution” in 1998 and is now considered democratic by most standards, and secondly, Indonesia, although now a net importer of oil, is self-supporting on most commodities. So civil unrest: not very likely caused by these events. Interestingly, several commentators suggest that the new leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain should have a look at how Indonesia went through the process of getting rid of a corrupt and undemocratic leader not so lng ago.

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