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石油巨头的“新殖民”

  Well-Oiled Machine

  石油巨头的“新殖民”

  In the great reach for colonies that Europe began hundreds of years ago, at center stage were several curious entities that wielded more power than many governments. The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies (commonly known as the East India Company) and its counterpart, the Dutch East India Company, fielded their own warships and armies, coined money and ruled territory eventually taken over by Britain and the Netherlands. Later, the seizure of land by Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company also preceded the spread of British pink across the map.

  在几百年前欧洲人的大规模殖民扩张中,一些奇妙的企业成为中坚力量,其势力甚至超过许多政府。英国商人往“东印度贸易联合公司(”即通常所说的东印度公司)及其竞争对手“荷兰东印度公司”配备了自己的战舰和军队,铸造钱币,统治那些最终将被不列颠和尼德兰接管的地区。再后来,塞西尔·罗德斯(Cecil Rhodes)的不列颠南非公司掠夺来的土地,也为不列颠在世界版图上增添了几块粉色。

  Centuries from now, historians sweltering away on an overheated planet and looking back to our own times will surely see multinational oil companies as similar players. The way they’re reshaping today’s world, however, is not by carving out future colonies, but by searching for the oil and gas we’re so hungry for in ever more risky places: beneath oceans, in Canadian tar sands, in underground rock formations that require “fracking” and in the environmentally fragile Arctic waters newly accessible as the polar ice cap shrinks — thanks, of course, to our addiction to fossil fuels. That addiction is likely to change the very level of the seas the East India Company’s ships sailed in their hunt for cloth and spices, and the floods and droughts ahead may set in motion desperate migrations dwarfing those of colonial times.

  在几个世纪后的未来,当不堪高温逃离了这个星球的历史学家回头看我们这个时代的时候,他们一定会发现跨国石油企业正在发挥类似的作用。不过他们对今日之世界的塑造不是通过开拓殖民地,而是在一些空前危险的地带搜寻我们渴盼的石油和天然气:在海底,在加拿大沥青砂里,在需要“水力压裂”的地下岩层中,随着极地冰盖的收缩——这当然也是拜我们的矿物燃料依赖症所赐——生态环境弱不禁风的北极水域也不再是遥不可及的了。这种依赖症对海域的改变程度,不亚于东印度公司的船只东进寻找布匹与香料,而未来洪水与旱灾可能带来的人口迁徙,更会使得殖民时代的移民潮相形见绌。

  Steve Coll’s mammoth portrait of Exxon Mobil, “Private Empire,” abounds in empire-size figures. In the first half of last year alone, the company’s profits were $21.3 billion. When the chief executive Lee Raymond stepped down a few years ago, his retirement package was worth $398 million. If revenue were counted as gross domestic product, the corporation would rank among the top 30 countries. Unsurprisingly, Exxon Mobil runs one of Washington’s biggest lobbying operations, with not only a well-staffed office on K Street (where a Democratic director was smoothly brought in to replace a Republican after the 2008 elections) but some 20 additional former senators, representatives, legislative aides and others under contract.

  史蒂夫·科尔(Steve Coll) 在描绘埃克森美孚公司(Exxon Mobil)的宏篇画卷《私人帝国》(Private Empire)中,引用了大量数据。公司仅在去年上半年的盈利就达到213亿美元。几年前首席执行官李·雷蒙德(Lee Raymond)离职的时候,公司给他的退休方案价值3.98亿美元。如果把年收入当作国民生产总值,这家公司可以排进世界前30位。这样的公司自然在华盛顿进行着最大规模的游说活动,不但在K街设有规模不小的办事处(那里的主管原为共和党人,2008年大选后顺利地换成民主党人),还聘着20来个工作人员,当中包括前参议员、众议员、法律助理等。

  Yet this book isn’t so much a story of Exxon Mobil’s influence over the American government. Rather, it’s a picture of a corporation so large and powerful — operating in some 200 nations and territories — that it really has its own foreign policy.

  不过在埃克森美孚对美国政府的影响上,这本书并没有涉及太多。它更多地是在试图告诉读者,这个企业是何其庞大而强势——在200个左右的国家和地区从事经营活动——以至于对外交都有自己的一套政策。

  Coll quotes a 1999 cable from the United States Embassy in Chad noting that Exxon was ignoring American diplomats there. He then asks: “And why should it be other­wise? Exxon Mobil’s investments in the Chad-Cameroon oil project would amount to $4.2 billion. Annual aid to Chad from the United States was only about $3 million.”

  科尔引用了美国驻乍得大使馆在1999年发出的一份电报,电报中指出驻扎在那里的埃克森公司不把美国外交官放在眼里。然后他问道:“凭什么要放在眼里呢?埃克森美孚在乍得-喀麦隆石油项目上的资金投入达到42亿美元。美国政府每年给乍得的援助只有300万美元。”

  Exxon Mobil’s foreign policy, orchestrated by a political division including National Security Council and State Department alumni, sometimes coincides with that of the United States, and sometimes diverges. For example, the corporation had no enthusiasm for invading Iraq. Yes, Iraq has all that oil, but with most remaining reserves ever harder to get at, oil executives knew that whoever ran Iraq would ultimately depend on the technology and capital of the Exxon Mobils of the world. And yes, it might have been nice to own Iraqi oil wells outright, but long-term stability and security mattered more. Today, although the company has billions invested in tearing up wetlands and forests to extract oil from Alberta’s tar sands, it doesn’t much care whether an expanded pipeline system that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast gets the go-ahead from the Obama administration. If Exxon Mobil can’t send that oil to the United States, it can easily sell it to Japan or China.

  埃克森美孚的外交政策是由一个政策小组精心制定的,小组成员中包括前国家安全委员会和美国国务院官员。这个政策和美国的政策有时相合,有时相左。比如,埃克森对入侵伊拉克就没什么兴趣。是,伊拉克有不少油,但现存储备大多极难开采,石油高管们很清楚,无论谁执掌伊拉克,最终都要依赖埃克森美孚的技术和资金。如果能直接把伊拉克的油井掌握在自己手里那当然好,但长期的稳定和安全更要紧。为了从沥青砂里提取石油,公司目前已经花了几十亿来折腾加拿大亚伯达的湿地和丛林,至于奥巴马政府是否批准他们在加拿大和墨西哥湾岸区之间进行输油管道扩容,他们倒不是很在乎。不能把油送到美国,埃克森美孚大可以在日本或中国轻松找到买家。

  Just like the British South Africa Company, which pioneered the use of Hiram Maxim’s machine gun during the Matabele War, Exxon Mobil has its own armies — and, in these days of outsourcing, also hires those of others. In Chad, its 2,500 security men patrolled the countryside in white radio-equipped S.U.V.’s, watching for guerrillas as the company set up an intelligence operation bigger and better than the ­local C.I.A. station. In the war-racked Niger Delta, it gave boats to the Nigerian Navy, deployed its own vessels at sea to scout for pirates and “recruited, paid, supplied and managed sections of the Nigerian military and police.” On their uniforms, the ­Nigerian police sported Mobil’s familiar red flying horse. In Aceh, Indonesia, Mobil paid the salaries of Indonesian counterinsurgency forces who tortured and murdered prisoners on company property. Payments kept flowing even after the American government cut off aid to the Indonesian military because of such abuses.

  和在马塔贝列战争中最早使用马克沁机枪的不列颠南非公司一样,埃克森美孚也有自己的军队——在这个外包盛行的年代,他们还另外雇了不少人。公司在乍得安排了2500名保安,开着配备电台的白色SUV沿国境线巡逻,防备当地游击队的破坏,与此同时公司还拥有比当地的中央情报局工作站更大、更好的情报机构。在战事不断的尼日尔三角洲,它向尼日利亚海军提供船只,在海上布署了自己的巡逻舰艇侦察海盗活动,并“负责了尼日利亚军警单位的征募、薪酬、给养和管理工作。”尼日利亚警察的制服上佩戴着跟美孚公司标志差不多的红色飞马。在印度尼西亚的亚齐省,拿着美孚公司薪水的印尼平暴部队在公司名下的物业里折磨和杀害囚犯。甚至在美国政府因为印尼军方的虐囚行为而停止资金援助后,美孚的薪水还是照发不误。

纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com/

  Like other journalists before him, Coll points out that Exxon Mobil’s lobbying has not been confined to keeping oil and gas taxes low and regulations lax. It has also shaped what people think on the biggest issue of our time. For some years, the company claimed that human contributions to global warming were negligible and gave millions of dollars to organizations that churned out studies accordingly. In the last few years, the corporation has subtly, gradually pulled its head out of the sand on this issue, not admitting earlier errors but simply stressing that the world’s economies still demand huge amounts of oil and gas — which is, alas, true.

  正如此前一些记者已经指出的,科尔认为埃克森美孚的游说活动并不仅限于保障石油天然气的低税率和宽松的监管措施。它还影响着人民对当前一些重大问题的看法。多年来公司一直声称人类对全球气候变暖起到的作用是微乎其微的,并为各种研究机构赞助了数百万美元以便炮制相应的研究结论。在最近几年里,他们开始逐步地、悄悄地正视这个问题了,但没有承认之前有错,而是简单地强调世界经济还是需要大量的石油和天然气——很不幸,这是事实。

  Exxon Mobil executives care less about Americans’ belief in climate change, Coll suggests, than they do about Americans’ belief in punitive damages from lawsuits. After the next Exxon Valdez spill, or the next Jacksonville spill (in which an Exxon service station leaked 24,000 gallons of gasoline into a Maryland community’s water supply), what a jury decides could subtract billions from the bottom line. Small wonder that after the Valdez, a company representative quietly called a University of Wisconsin professor to offer money if he would write an article for a “respectable academic journal,” arguing against punitive damages. This man spoke up, but we don’t know how many other scholars received and may have acted on the same offer and said nothing.

  相比美国人在气候变化方面的信念,让埃克森美孚更担心的是美国人对诉讼中的惩罚性赔偿的信念。等到下次埃克森-瓦尔迪兹漏油事件,或下一次杰克逊维尔漏油事件(埃克森公司的一个服务站将2.4万加仑的汽油泄漏到了马里兰州一个社区供水系统里),陪审团的一个决议可能会从他们账面上抹去几十亿美元。因此我们毫不意外地得知,瓦尔迪兹事发后一位威斯康辛州立大学教授接到公司代表的电话,试图收买他写一篇文章发表在“受尊敬的学术期刊”上,论证惩罚性赔偿的弊端。这位教授把事情抖了出来,但是不是有学者收到了同样的邀约,然后把钱收下什么也没说呢?我们就不得而知了。

  “Private Empire” is not as original and absorbing as Coll’s excellent Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ghost Wars,” about the C.I.A.’s arrogant bungling in pre-2001 Afghanistan. Oil company executives trained and shielded by public relations staffers are inherently bland compared with the earlier volume’s C.I.A. cowboys and Afghan sheiks. Long a correspondent and editor at The Washington Post and now a staff writer for The New Yorker, Coll is a careful reporter but sometimes doesn’t know when to stop. “Private Empire” could easily afford to shed 150 of its nearly 700 pages. Do we really need to know where all the major Exxon Mobil figures grew up and went to college? Or do we really need half a page listing all the names and amounts involved when over a dozen executives gave to the campaign of an oil-friendly Texas congressman?

  比起为科尔赢得普利策奖的精彩大作《幽灵战争》(Ghost Wars)——讲得是2001年以前的中情局在阿富汗的种种拙劣行径——《私人帝国》没那么独特和有趣。在公关专业人员的训练和保护下,石油公司高管跟那些中情局牛仔和阿富汗酋长比起来肯定要呆板得多。在《华盛顿邮报》任职记者和编辑多年、如今在《纽约客》任撰稿人的科尔是个谨慎的记者,不过有时候有些收不住笔。要从将近700页的《私人帝国》里删掉个150页应该是挺轻松的。埃克森美孚的每一个重要人物,从童年到上大学的经历都要一五一十告诉我们,真的有这个必要吗?还有,十来个公司高管向亲石油企业的德州议员捐款助选,真的要拿出半页的版面把姓名、金额都给列出来吗?

  Despite these quibbles, the book assuredly does what it sets out to do: show the inner workings of one of the Western world’s most significant concentrations of unelected power. And just how that power is wielded matters enormously because oil companies play such a crucial role in the carbon economy to which we are so fatefully attached.

  除却这些瑕疵,本书无疑达到了它的目的:展示这个西方民间力量的强大集合体内部是如何运转的。了解这股力量非常有必要,因为在我们注定已经离不开的碳经济中,石油公司扮演着太过关键的角色。

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