I wrote a post over two years ago outlining what I thought would happen as the easily accessible crude oil started to run out. If current events are anything to go by, I was optimistic with my 4-5 years to the crunch.
It could happen next week.
With crude oil recently pushing $150/barrel (up from $85/barrel 12 months ago), various parts of society started to groan under the pressure.
Even though crude has dropped to ~$120/barrel, essentials such as eggs, bread, milk and utilities (gas, electricity, water) haven’t gone down in price. Whilst the price of crude isn’t the only factor in these costs being high (booming demand from the Far East), it affects and motivates all areas of any society. Including the highest levels of government.
The recent invasion of Georgia by Russia could be a case in point. The worlds second longest oil pipeline runs through it (thanks Dermot at Idleworm). I mentioned securing oil being the main motivator for war; Russia knows that NATO’s members aren’t exactly in the strongest position (with America and Britain heavily committed in their own [STRIKEOUT:oil grab] “peace keeping” missions) and are not going to do much more than sabre rattle over its move into Georgia. Some pundits are expecting a new Cold War, but I strongly doubt that Moscow is going to back down because the US or the EU protest or posture; Russia knows it has the upper hand this time around and it looks like it wants to use it.
This could easily lead to escalation. The US is a major proponent of the Ukraine (who have warned Russia about its warships in the Black Sea) and Georgia (into whom the US have “invested” a lot of military kit) joining NATO before this conflict reached the boil. Whilst the US don’t have the manpower to goto Georgia immediately, it isn’t beyond Bush ‘n’ Co to whip the masses up about their old enemy the Commies.
It wouldn’t be that hard to frame the Russian invasion of Georgia (if it heads further south that the South Ossetia border) as an aggressive act against Turkey, a NATO member. This could indeed either mobilise or split NATO; Europe relies on gas and oil from Russia, so it is going to be hesitant about charging to Turkey’s or Georgia’s defence, especially if this conflict goes on into the autumn and winter months.
I seriously think Russia is toying with NATO. Moscow knows it has a lot of the European members by the proverbials and it wants to see how fair it can push before NATO reacts. Having Europe dependant on Russia is an ironic reversal when Russia was dependant on NATO states for money after the collapse of the Soviet government, and how Russia had to put up with the outside pressure because it needed the money.
I do wonder how much pressure NATO can withstand before it reacts or breaks. Neither is an appealing prospect.