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Manish Tewari ... wary of energy wars
2008-03-11
Meet warned against aggressive approachPublished: Tuesday, 11 March, 2008, 01:48 AM Doha Time

Staff Reporter

Manish Tewari ... wary of energy wars
GLOBALISATION of the energy markets has prompted strategic thinkers and policy makers to articulate their energy interests in the language of competition, and, of late, into a language of conflict, said Manish Tewari, spokesperson of the Indian National Congress (INC), which leads the ruling coalition in New Delhi.
Addressing a gathering at a session on ‘Integrating energy with foreign policy and security’, the leader and a lawyer at India’s highest court said the postulation of policy makers on energy stem from a zeal to lock supply sources amid depleting global reserves.
“The ostensibly hostile role that major hydro-carbon producers may play or do play in global polity and burgeoning demand for energy from virtually all developing economy also contributed to their concerns,” said Tewari.
“Do the emerging situations not impel the rising political and economic powers to start searching unstable regions for their own spheres of influence, positioning energy as the pivot to re-energise fossilised 19th century mindsets?” he asked.
Tewari also raised apprehensions as to whether the world should have to contend with further aggression and re-politicisation of energy flows between the developed and emerging players.
Terming energy as a prism that is referred to as the bane of peace, the speaker, who is considered to be part of the Congress think-thank on foreign policy, said the need of the hour is understanding between suppliers and buyers.
The leader said the sands of time are littered with conquests that have been waged in the name of God, glory, gold, black gold and, of late, gas. These have snowballed into a major issue among producers and buyers.
Tewari said the nations and entities, supported by powerful natural resources, had so far been successful in controlling their physical ownership, volumes of production, direction of trade and currency of exchange.
What is important at this stage is the question of how sagaciously one can perpetuate this synergy rather than allowing what is essentially an economic activity to de-link itself from the apron strings of state policy, he said.
Experiences and experiments over the years have showed that successive US presidents had enunciated security doctrines for guaranteed supplies of abundant and cheap sources of energy, he said.
Tewari recalled president Carter’s declaration in 1980 that access to Gulf oil was of vital interest to the US and it would be prepared to use military force to protect its interests.
The speaker said Carter’s Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force had over the years evolved into what is currently referred to as the powerful Central Command, with an area of operations spreading over West/Central Asian and Caspian Sea region.
President George W Bush’s recommending of strengthening ties with oil-rich countries in May 2001 was a step in the same direction, he said.
The speaker pointed out that the 2001 Quadrennial Defence Review identified overseas oil-producing regions as critical points and it spoke of the need for the US to retain ability to send forces to critical points around the globe.
Tewari said a school of thought championing the routing of oil through an expensive route was also going on.
“It is the clear sign of integrating energy into foreign policy and security and thus introducing a political element into it,” he said.
Speaking on Russia’s huge proven gas reserves, Tewari said that country feels sufficiently sanguine of being able to cancel production-sharing agreements with foreign entities and thus allowing re- nationalisation to take shape again.
“Russia may have lost the Cold War, but is not prepared to lose its vital energy sweepstakes,” he said.
The recent election of Dmitry Medvedev as the Russian president clearly demonstrates this point, the speaker added.
In the last eight years, president Putin has leveraged Russia’s energy resources as both strategic and tactical assets for endeavouring to regain Russia’s erstwhile pre- eminent position in the world, pointed out Tewari.

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