Stuck on Oil
Michael Ruppert on the messy decline of the oil age
BY KERA ABRAHAM
Michael Ruppert is a leading proponent of the theory that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, part of a scheme to control the world's dwindling oil supply. He publishes a newsletter called "From the Wilderness" from his base in L.A., and he explores the connections between oil and the military in his 2004 bestseller, Crossing the Rubicon: The decline of the American Empire at the end of the Age of Oil. Ruppert will speak at McDonald Theater at 7 pm May 31 about the politics of peak oil. For more information, visit
What is peak oil?
All oil production follows a bell curve. Peak oil is the moment in time when you are at the apex of the bell curve. No matter how much money, technology or effort you throw at it, you will never be able to increase oil production after that point. It will be in a steady, permanent decline.
How does peak oil relate to our military?
The United States has been aware of peak oil for quite a long time, and peak oil is on us now. The attacks of 9/11, which I have shown were facilitated by the U.S. government, and all subsequent U.S. military deployments have been engineered with one specific goal: to control the last remaining oil reserves on the planet.
Tell me what you think happened on 9/11.
It's very clear that the U.S. government, under the control of Vice President Richard Cheney, had scheduled five conflicting war games for the morning of Sept. 11, which moved a substantial number of the U.S. fighter response forces out of the region so that they could not respond. The so-called hijackers were, in effect, agents working for the U.S. government. Al Qaeda had been co-opted to perpetrate the attack, which then gave the U.S. government the pretext for all the military adventurism and occupation that has taken place since.
Why do you think the mainstream media parroted the Bush administration's version of events?
In some cases, the mainstream media did not, because there were many stories coming out of the mainstream media that flatly contradicted the Bush administration's line of events on 9-11. But the mainstream media failed to acknowledge, recognize, address or even pursue these glaring inconsistencies, and the same holds true for the so-called 9-11 Independent Commission report, which was nothing more than a cover-up, a fabrication, a packet full of very demonstrable lies.
Why does this administration cling so desperately to oil when alternative energy sources are available?
There is no replacement for what hydrocarbon energy does for human life on this planet. Until you change the way money works, you cannot change the way energy is used. We live in an economic paradigm that requires infinite economic growth, and all economic growth requires energy. So there are no solutions. And rather than address the problem sanely, the United States government has just taken a position of, 'We will take whatever we need to take, wherever we need to take it — damn the world, full speed ahead — to protect our way of life.' The U.S. has committed to a bitter, bloody war to the end to control oil. All over the planet, the world is in full revolt because where the U.S. takes oil, other economies suffer.
What would it take to shift this country toward more sustainable energy sources?
Again, nothing is going to change this country's path. We have passed the point of no return. It takes 30 years to change energy infrastructure. Even SAIC, Science Applied International Corporations, which does huge government intelligence contracts — they're the heart of the military-industrial complex — has a report that was leaked out that says very clearly, 'Listen, guys, we need to start something right now, but it may be too late to save everything.
Is the federal government interested in 'saving' anything?
No. I believe that the policies of the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve and the Bush administration — especially in regard to the foreign trade deficit, the U.S. budget deficit, the pricing of the dollar and the exportation of American manufacturing jobs — show one intent and one intent only, which is bankrupting the United States. I predict major economic collapse in this country.
Why would the U.S. government want to do that?
First of all, these people are not tied to the United States. Their money has all been moved offshore. People in the United States are saddled with mountains and mountains of debt. We have the highest per-capita debt level ever in U.S. history. We can't buy any more stuff on credit. The market here is saturated. The deal is to collapse this market and come back and foreclose on everything. China, however, is a vastly untapped market where the demands are very high. The rich elites in this country will be happy to shut this economy down. That serves two purposes. It allows them to foreclose on real estate property and jobs, but it also reduces demand for hydrocarbon energy.
How much time do we have before this major economic collapse?
I predict it will start this year, and we're certainly seeing some signs of that. GM and Ford bonds have been downgraded to junk status. United Airlines has just taken away all of its employees' pensions. There's a whole litany of things that are showing just how weak the U.S. economy is right now. As happened during the Great Depression, we will have large-scale domestic and economic upheavals. Now, this is not gonna happen overnight. It will happen progressively along with blackouts. By 2007, these blackouts are going to start becoming permanent simply because there's not enough oil.
Did you always have this worldview?
No, I most certainly did not. I'm an only child who was born into a conservative Republican family. My grandfather and my father were both veterans of the U.S. Army, and my mother was a senior cryptanalyst for the Army Security Agency during World War II. I was a Republican through college at UCLA for four years, a true believer. But when I was a police officer on the streets of South Central, around 1977, the CIA tried to recruit me. I discovered that the CIA was dealing drugs, laundering $600 billion a year in drug profits through the U.S. financial markets. I said, "I won't get involved in dealing drugs. I became a cop to stop drugs." Which resulted, ultimately, in the end of my career. People were trying to kill me.
Do you still feel threatened by the government?
The threats on me are not now so much physical, because that would cause too many problems. There have been severe and sustained efforts by the government to put me out of business. They've sabotaged records, things like that. That kind of pressure on me has been very intense, especially since the book came out.
Is the war on drugs connected to the war on terror?
Well, yes. It's primarily an economic connection. One of the most important things that happened after 9-11 — and boy, we predicted this — is that the Taliban had destroyed roughly 96 percent of all the opium grown in Afghanistan right before 9-11. That move took an estimated $200 billion in liquid cash, laundered money, out of Western banks. Since the U.S. occupied Afghanistan, which it did right after 9-11, Afghan opium production has exponentially grown. Afghanistan, under CIA control, now supplies more than 75 percent of all the heroin grown on the planet. That's to keep the drug money flowing through Western banks to keep the U.S. economy sustained.
If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be?
I would change the way money works. We are seeing in the human paradigm a collision between the requirement for infinite growth and finite energy. The economy paradigm places incentives on destruction and death. The energy companies and the banks are going to make more money by killing people on the way down the peak oil slope. That's how profits are made. Until you change the way money works, you can't change anything else.
Do we have to change capitalism before we can shift to a more sustainable society?
It is now a futile effort to try to change the government or the economy. Governments and economies move too slowly. My philosophy is to educate people on ways that they can save themselves, their communities and their neighbors. All we can do now is empower people, and that's what I see happening in the Pacific Northwest. All throughout the region, people are waking up. They're working local currencies, permaculture, everything else that needs to happen to help people survive. I happen to love the state of Oregon deeply, and I'm trying like heck to move there. I will be a resident of Oregon someday.
I've heard talk of the Pacific Northwest, from San Francisco to B.C., potentially breaking into a separate state. Do you see that happening?
Yes. I think that at some point, the U.S. government plans to divide the country into 10 regions. As the economy collapses and as the world situation grows tenser, the U.S. government won't be able to police the entire country. A civil war, at some point, is not out of the question, if for no other reason than because the draft is coming, and because the U.S. military is so over-extended right now that military families are being horribly abused. We can't sustain that. I'm aware of maybe 15 or 20 very great thinkers on the subject of peak oil and war who, if not already there, are moving into the Pacific Northwest region, and dammit, I'm doing it too.
You're describing an increasingly isolationist world that seems to contradict globalization.
Globalization is dead. Why are we flying strawberries from Chile to markets in Los Angeles? You know how much energy that takes? You cannot ship goods around the world anymore. Seventy percent of world's transportation is powered by oil. Fuel costs are rising; they're going through the roof. So globalization is totally dead.
The economy is killing globalization?
Exactly. Geography will determine everything. Korea and ultimately Japan will have to fold into China's sphere of influence. Britain will have to join Europe whether it wants to or not because the only natural gas it can get is from Russia, and it will come through the European Union. Latin America is unifying so rapidly from an economic standpoint you can't believe it. Even from a survival standpoint locally, it's gonna be what's in your neighborhood that's gonna save your life, not the government.
Does biology also play a factor?
If I were to sum up the problem facing mankind right now, I would use one word: overpopulation. Planet Earth before the oil age had a carrying capacity of roughly 2 billion people. There are 10 calories of hydrocarbon energy in every calorie of food consumed on the planet. You take away the oil and natural gas, you take away the food. When we hit our peak, we run into a situation called population overshoot. We see the mathematical shortfalls, and now the population cannot sustain itself and we reach a point of collapse. I do not have any plan, myself, to depopulate the planet. But what terrifies me is that I'm certain that Dick Cheney, the Rockefellers, the Bushes, the economic elite, do have a plan to depopulate the planet.
All of this is pretty disheartening.
[Laughs.] I know. I'm sorry to do that. But I and many others are very gratified to see that tens of thousands of people are making changes in their own personal lifestyles as a result of the information we're putting out. They are preparing themselves to survive. That's gratifying.
So it's not necessarily the end of humanity, just life as we know it?
One of the best quotes I've ever heard was from one of the premier spokesmen for peak oil, Colin Campbell, an eminently credible retired petroleum geologist who was the head of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. He said, "The species Homo Sapiens may not become extinct, but the sub-species of Petroleum Man most certainly will."