Friday, November 2, 2007
some writing on the wall about a holy grail
Oil and coal—hydrocarbon fuel—is waste of the Earth, which of course takes millions of years to accumulate, and it's not in the human interest to learn to fabricate it, due to greenhouse effects. Yet, we have learned to fabricate nuclear energy, but its waste is not practically disposable, unless we abandon a hundred-mile radius around nuclear waste dumps for about 25,000 years, as we've not yet discovered the holy grail of energy: hydrogen-fusion-produced energy that breeder reactors would generate. But that will happen this century (cost-effectiveness of hydrogen-fuel cells is already within sight); so, a dwindling politics of oil will leave the Arab region to whatever alternative resourcefulness that it has been able to develop in the meantime.
Iran needs to divert oil income from a welfare state to greater modernization while it can. Nuclear power will give it greater discretion with oil-based income in regional competition that traces back to Babylonian times.
But the name of the global game is technological infrastructure for self-governing employment of the holy grail of energy when it arrives. This is a game of political epistemology. In this game, Arab union, due to its Sunni openness to the West, is far ahead of the Persian campaign of fundamentalist Shi'ism. The Russian alliance with fundamentalist Iran is just a business opportunity, as they need all the clients they can win in the global technology market that the north Atlantic economies lead, as Russia amasses oil-based wealth that China can only envy, and the Earth writes its ultimate reality in the wind, Chinese, Russian, and otherwise.
Who will prevail in the global market for hydrogen-generated power (which, by the way, includes solar power, which is what breeder reactors would emulate)? Will it be a north Atlantic/Australasian alliance? the Russian orbit? Probably not the Chinese orbit; yet, the Pacific market and flourishing character of U.S./Australasian knowledge production seems to favor Chinese-U.S. relations over Chinese-Russian ones (generally favoring anchors in the evolution of knowledge over oil rigs). (It seems to me that accelerating Indian power is clearly within the north Atlantic/Australasian orbit.) But the great reality for Iranian isolation is a singular global ground of Russian-American, Russian-EU, Russian-Chinese, Euro-Arab, Asian-African, South American-Asian, etc., etc., evolution of knowledge that ultimately marginalizes Sunni-Shi'ite conflict.
A couple of days ago, an Arab consortium offered to provide Iran with enriched uranium for nuclear energy, and today, Russia balked. All the world's a theater. "Prince Saud said Iran was considering the offer. He said the enrichment plant should be in a neutral country, such as Switzerland" (Reuters, 11/2). To me, the tacit implication here is that Arab power buys the principle that provision of enriched uranium be "neutrally" controlled altogether, which is implicit in the idea of a U.N. IAEA regime of transparency that ensures non-proliferation—which Iran has been dismissing in its conflict with Sunni modernization. It's not news that Arab competition with Iran is "West"-leaning, subscribing to the U.N. order, which is so much a feature of global economics (mirrored by the WTO), so modernly contrary to the fundamentalist Shi'ite conception of power.
A few minutes ago (as of this writing), Iran transposed its resistance onto the consortium proposal by expressing that it "would be ready to join a body that would provide enriched uranium" (Reuters), rather than (as the Arab consortium suggests) be a client of that provision under neutral auspices (such a modern notion), and Iran even claims that the idea of the consortium originated with Iran.
In my view, the fundamentalist Shi'ite welfare state is nearing collapse. Arab economies have outstripped the dream of a new caliphate. Chinese alliance with Iran is a fragile opportunism, while pollution is quickly choking the Chinese economy. Green industry within the more healthy U.S. and EU economies is flourishing. Though the evolution of knowledge is broadly distributed within the ecology of leading political economies, it will be only the nations with high-tech infrastructure that will be able to manage hydrogen-based energy production, and it will be those nations that will be greatly advantaged in the energy-hungry future. Fundamentalist Shi'ism sees the writing on the wall and flails.
It is time for Iran to join the prevailing union of knowledge management and become full participants in the U.N.-accordant order. Iran will not flourish outside of this planetary union.
-- 2:13 PM