Isn’t it a fundamental transformation in the political economy of oil that explains how Vladimir Putin was enabled to be “the hero of capitalist markets”? (Business Comment, 17 September). Initially, in response to the Syrian crisis, oil prices spiked on global markets, but they fell back. This is because “oil dependency” has changed significantly over the years, in particular since the Iraq war.
The United States and Israel are fast becoming self-sufficient in oil and gas and huge finds are reported around the world, recently for example in Australia. Moreover, Iraq has stepped up output and a more moderate regime in Iran is no longer threatening a blockade of the Gulf.
Another significant factor is that Europe is no longer as dependent on the Middle East, but increasingly on Russia with its huge reserves of oil and gas. Hence, over the past decade, dependency has been shifting east as Japan, but also importantly China, with other emerging economies, make massive demands on Middle East oil.
What once were labelled as “resource wars” – to maintain uninterrupted oil supplies from the Middle East to the US and the West – are no longer pertinent. Arguably, it is the change in the political economy of oil, globally and in the Middle East, that casts Putin in the role of “capitalist markets’ hero”.
However, where would Putin stand if, from a moral point of view, the international community were obliged to intervene in Syria on humanitarian grounds?
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