Well, the Yemenis are still saying it was an accident, but from the article in
the latest Economist, according to an eye witness ship's officer, and the
preliminary comments by some experts, it's going to be very difficult to show
that it was an accident. The ship's officer saw a small boat heading for them at
very high speed just before the explosion, the explosion was at the waterline --
and an accidental internal explosion would blow out the ship's weakest points,
which are not at the waterline, but at bulkheads, the deck's edge and places like
that. A Yemeni official said the metal plating was blow outwards, and indeed it
appears that way, but according to the bomb expert, that's because typically the
full force of the explosion is carried into the hull of the ship. Let me see if I
can illustrate, and this even assumes the small boat was just a zodiac, without
any hull-piercing capabilities, because in any case the ship was built to the
latest safety standards, including double hull. The explosion will start at the
instant the zodiac hits the hull, typically (they're often set off by dead man
switches, and the person holding the switch would have lost control at the moment
of impact, assuming "proper training" -- that is the discipline to wait, and not
let go of his own accord). That beginning of the explosion pierces the hull, but
the momentum of the zodiac carries it through the hole, by which time the
explosion, which is, after all, a rapid  but not instantaneous oxidation (strange
term, but the point is it's not instantaneous, although it may appear that way to
the human observer) is like a force vector which is moving in concert with the
zodiac, so its full power isn't present until after the zodiac is inside the

That's my speculation, and I'm not an expert -- I'm just thinking out loud. Does
it make sense, do you think?

Also, I think it was very clever of the terrorists to target a French ship, and
here's why. France, like the US is one of only a handful of countries that has a
permanent seat on the UN Security Council. France, Russia, and iirc, China, are
waffling in their support of Bush's Security Council strategy (that's separate
from whatever military strategy he may have, and separate from the process of
getting allies on board, although it feeds into that). France also has a more
acute security supply than the US does. Contrary, perhaps, to what most US think,
most of your oil no longer comes from the Middle East. In fact, in my letter that
appears in the same issue of The Economist, I listed the sources, and they are
(for crude alone), 1.Saudi Arabia, 2. Mexico, 3. Canada, and they aren't that far
apart (I think Canada supplies a bit under 500m barrels a year -- I'd have to
look at my own letter -- and Saudi a bit less than 600 m, with Mexico in the
middle. But when you include all petroleum, incl. natural gas and refined
petroleum, Canada is by far the US.'s largest single supplier. The US is, in
effect, paying a surcharge for the security of having a safe supplier (something
the author of the article I commented on failed to mention, which is why I wrote
the letter; the letter-writer after me makes a similar point).

So why is the US still paying the "military premium," the money to protect the
Middle Eastern source? I think there are a number of reasons, but they are
probably, in descending order of importance: 1) it feels an obligation to protect
allies' sources [EU, Australia and Japan primarily]; 2) the secure sources are in
place but not yet big enough players. Saudi is still #1 in crude, for instance,
so the US still needs more time to do things like figure out how to get more
Alaskan oil to the Lower 48, and tap into Venezuela's heavy oil as it already has
Alberta's. It makes sense, if you have a choice, to subsidize a close ally's
technological development of an otherwise uneconomical supply (like the Maracaibo
and Athabasca tar sands in Venezuela and Alberta, respectively; and the Mackenzie
Valley/Beaufort Sea/Alaska north shore supplies, which require expensive
pipelines), than to provide military protection in an area where, for your
efforts, you get bitten on the butt by locals who resent your very body odour, so
to speak, and you have to do odious things like prop up regimes like Iraq,
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

So I think putting pressure on France's supply forces France to waver in its UN
Security Council commitment to Bush's plan, and it also puts some pressure on the
US to maintain that military cordon a bit longer, which gives more time for the
local hatred to simmer and stew. Just another spanner into George III's crown,
that's all. That's what it's all about.

That's my take on it, fwiw.


> Marc Schindler:
> ... what made me think about this was the attack on the
> French supertanker that's spilled thousands of litres of oil
> into the waters of the coast of Yemen; almost certainly an
> act of deliberate terrorism. Why attack a French
> supertanker? Why not a U.S. one? Ah....interesting
> question. I don't think the target was picked at random....
> _______________
> What attack?  Has it been confirmed since this morning
> that it was not just an accident, albeit a serious one?
> The captain has given two conflicting stories about what
> happened.  And the attack theory is based on a crewman
> whose story has not been corroborated.
> Larry Jackson
> ________________________________________________________________
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Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and
falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
--Michelangelo Buonarroti

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the authorís employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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