Spanish Practices

September 16, 2007

Looks like the Spanish government expects a terror attack. From the UK and Ireland.

It started in July:

Holidaymakers travelling to Spain this summer have been warned to brace themselves for delays at airports as a result of the introduction of new security measures.

From June 13, Spanish authorities will be asking travellers to provide detailed information about themselves before they fly to the country…

Airlines have been told that the information needs to be supplied to Spanish customs authorities before anyone boards an aircraft…

That got delayed, and now appears to be restricted to travelers from the UK and Ireland (my ellipsis):

The Spanish Government has introduced new measures requiring airlines to provide, (before flight departure) the Passport or National ID data of all passengers on board flights departing from the UK and Republic of Ireland…

(The requirement is restricted to) passengers traveling to Spain…from the UK or Republic of Ireland from the 19th September 2007 onwards.

Hopefully the Spanish will extend their scheme to flights from Morocco, Algeria, and Syria.


Oil and Iraq

September 16, 2007

Alan Greenspan says the war in Iraq is, as lefties claim, All About Oil. That’s ignorant nonsense, and diminishes the man.

His claim:

America’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil…

“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says…

Britain and America have always insisted the war had nothing to do with oil. Bush said the aim was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddam’s support for terrorism.

“Everyone knows” isn’t quite the standard of proof one would expect from an elder statesman. Still, let’s ignore WMDs for the moment and look at how important Iraqi oil was in 2003 to the US and UK.

Iraqi oil was and is irrelevant to the UK, which until 2006 was an oil exporter, so would be nuts to spend blood and treasure invading a competitor. See OECD net oil imports 1992-2006.

So let’s consider the US, which since the year 2000 has had annual oil consumption of about 20 million barrels/day.

Iraqi oil exports in 2000 were 2.1 million barrels/day, and have since fallen to about 1.4 million barrels/day.

When the US launched the war, US oil imports came from the following sources according to Al Jazeera :

Country Million barrels/day in 2001
Canada 1.79
Saudi Arabia 1.66
Venezuela 1.54
Mexico 1.42
Nigeria 0.86
Iraq 0.78
Norway 0.33
Angola 0.32
United Kingdom 0.31
Total imports 9.0

(Table is total petroleum products and excludes all countries from which the US imported less than 300,000 bpd in 2001).

Why would the US go to the cost of invading a nation supplying under 8.6% of its imports?

Protecting the wells can’t have been a consideration – Saddam was nuts, but not enough to shut off his only source of revenue.

Perhaps Greenspan and friends think the US intended to occupy Iraq and take its oil for free. But in that case why not go for the Saudis? After all, they financed and carried out 9/11, Iraq and Saudi Arabia both have about 27 million people so should cost about the same to subdue (assuming the US suddenly became an evil imperialist power), and the US would steal almost 3 times more oil from Saudi Arabia.

That leaves the possibility that the US feared Saddam might have stopped shipping oil to it. But in that case, as an economist like Greenspan must know, Saddam would have to sell his oil to another customer, displacing their current supplier. Who would promptly have switched to supplying the US.

And if all else failed and the US lost Iraq as a supplier and failed to replace it, the US is surrounded by oil – Canada (170 gigabarrels), Mexico (maybe 100 gigabarrels) and of course the US itself (oil shale – 800 gigabarrels). That’s enough for a few centuries.

All this tells us the Greenspan isn’t a numbers man, which may explain the sub-prime disaster.