mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


The Oil Factor


Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco, and this
is Link TV’s investigative news program, presenting documentaries from
filmmakers and reporters around the world, telling stories usually missed
by American television.


This week our spotlight is on oil and U.S. foreign policy.

For the United States, oil is a matter of life and death. Without
oil, our economy would crash, our suburbs would become uninhabitable,
modern life itself would shudder to a halt. As Hurricane Katrina showed,
even minor supply disruptions can bring back the gas lines and price spikes
of the 1970s.

So it’s no surprise that oil has long been central to U.S. foreign
policy. The Bush administration, however, denies that oil was a factor in
its decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The documentary you’re about to
see challenges that assertion. And it goes further, suggesting that oil
was also at the heart of US policy in Afghanistan, both initially, with
Washington’s support for the Taliban, and later, with the Bush
administration’s 2001 invasion of the country.

We’ll be back afterwards with an update. For now, from the French
filmmakers Gerard Ungerman and Audry Brohy, here is, “The Oil Factor,” on
Link TV, your connection to the world.


Welcome back. You’re watching “Spotlight” on Link TV. I’m Mark

Reasonable people can disagree about whether oil was the driving force
behind the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. What cannot be denied
is that global oil supplies are under great stress and getting worse. As
China and other newly industrializing nations seek more oil and the US
continues its gas-guzzling ways, demand is outpacing supply, raising the
danger of shortages, price hikes, recession and war.

It used to be that only environmentalists warned about the world
running out of oil. Not anymore. Matthew Simmons is an industry insider,
a banker with thirty years experience advising the oil industry’s major
players, including briefings of president Bush and vice president Cheney.
In his book Twilight in the Desert, Simmons argues that the world is at or
near “peak oil”-that is, the point of the earth’s all time maximum
production. Simmons warns that unless alternative energy sources are
brought on line very, very soon, we face unparalleled catastrophe.

All of which casts a harsh light on the energy debate in Washington,
where lawmakers fulminate against $3 a gallon gas and pledge to end U.S.
dependence on foreign oil. If Simmons and other peak oil prophets are
right, $3 a gallon gas will soon sound cheap, and the real imperative is to
end our dependence on oil altogether.

If you want to find out more about these issues, check out the
resources listed at the end of this program. You can also find those
resources at our website,

Following those listings you’ll see a clip from next week’s program.
Until then, this is Mark Hertsgaard in San Francisco for “Spotlight.”
Thanks for joining us.



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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.