From Senate Hearings with Army Secretary and Army Chief of Staff. Thursday Nov. 15, 2007. Broadcast on CSPAN2.
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV): General Casey, in your comments before the National Press Club in August and in your prepared testimony today, you suggest that increase in competition for oil resources, particularly with a growing demand in China and India, will be a source of international conflict in coming decade. You appear to be suggesting that a primary justification for developing an expanded military is to secure adequate oil supplies for the US. If so, is that not an unrealistic objective and would it not be prudent to accelerate investment in infrastructure and alternative energy and to ensure that market mechanisms operate smoothly?
Gen. George Casey: That was not what I was trying to suggest senator. I was just trying to point out the fact… that for example in India, the middle class population of India is burgeoning. It already exceeds the population of the United States. And the estimates that I have read about oil research and infrastructure improvements say that it’s not going to bridge the gap, we’re not going to have the oil resources that we need. As people try to shift to cleaner fuels, like natural gas… 60% of the world’s natural gas resources are in Russia, Iran and Qatar. We’re going to be drawn more to the Middle East rather than less. China, also has a burgeoning middle class. I believe the competition, not just oil but for water and other resources is going to generate global competition. Now whether it turns to conflict, it remains to be seen.
Sen. Robert Byrd: the International Energy Agency forecasts, contrary I believe to your estimate forecasts that OPEC will have little spare capacity left by 2012 and predict supply increases by other producers will start flagging as early as 2009. If this estimate is accurate, the competition that you suggest is already upon us. Specifically, what role do you see the military taking in this global struggle for energy resources?
Casey: I don’t see the military playing a direct role in it, Senator. What I highlighted those trends of which this is one, as trends that could exacerbate what is already likely to be a period of protracted competition. But I do not see the military as having a direct role in it.
Byrd: You do not!
Iran currently has a stable government and economy. As the second largest oil reserves globally with approximately 10% of the world’s oil. While the US does not directly import oil from Iran. The economies of Europe and Japan are dependent on Iranian oil production and export. Is a military conflict in Iran, a practical approach to addressing our differences in Iranian government? Is it a practical approach?
Casey: Sen. This is a policy question that I wouldn’t want to comment on.
Byrd: It sounds like a practical approach to oblivion, a military conflict in Iran. Gen. Casey, does the United States have the military depth to conduct combat operations in Iran. And could we be certain that a US strike would destroy all the Iranian nuclear facilities?
Casey: Sen. You’re asking hypothetical situations, that would have to have a lot of conditions before I could even give you a remote answer to that. I’d prefer not to address it.
Byrd: Well, hypothetical? I’m asking a question. I don’t think we are talking about a hypothetical situation. Does the United States have the military depth to conduct combat operations in Iran and could we be certain that a US strike would destroy all Iranian nuclear facilities.
Casey: The US military has the depth to conduct combat operations anywhere in the world. And on the second question, the track record for destroying targets entirely by air is not a 100%. So I would expect that any type of attack would not be a 100% successful. Again, this is a hypothetical situation.
If you listen carefully, a few things become clear. US rulers, both republican and democrat understand and fully accept that US will be in the Middle East for long term and that this presence is to secure oil and gas resources. They may have different ideas of tactics, but they all understand this is the game they must play.
And secondly on Iran, people like Byrd who are so old and established tha they have nothing to lose are not afraid of pushing the envelope on Bush Iran war plans. Of course, the Bush appointed General is not going to raise red flags before the war “product” is ready for public consumption. But Byrd did get him to admit that an aerial strike is useless to stop nuclear development.
But than again, the whole point, conceded by all sides, is that this is about OIL and GAS not NUKES.
This this is going down, on schedule.