Will BP go the way of Arthur Anderson?

If you hurt America someone, without doubt, will suffer for it. It may not be the guilty party, but someone will pay. Iraq paid the price for the crime committed in New York at the Twin Towers, even though it had no or little connection with the crime. Arthur Anderson, then the largest audit and accountancy firm, paid the price for Enron, although its culpability is not in doubt, it paid a price that was based on a thirst for revenge, rather than justice. Punishing someone or something disproportionately or unjustly diverts attention from some of the real issues.

BP has clearly committed a great crime against the environment. The greatest aspect of the crime is that it was committed, not in the lands of the Inuit people in Northern Canada, or in the Niger Delta, or on the coast of Cornwall or indeed in any part of the world other than on the doorstep of the United States.

Punishing BP works for The USA on two levels.

First, it provides a villain responsible for the crime. BP certainly had a responsibility for the crime, but not the sole responsibility. There were other parties that were responsible, including its partners in the Deepwater project.

Secondly, punishing BP diverts attention from the role of the Federal authorities in the environmental crime. They approved the project, granted the licences and permits to drill and approved the plan for drilling. The principle of drilling for oil so deeply where none had successfully drilled before needed proper appraisal, The first such project should have been approached from the view point of environmental safety, first and foremost, rather than on satisfying America’s greed for oil, profit and energy security.

So BP, not an innocent party but not the sole guilty party, has become a byword for Satan instead of being one of a number of conspirators who have managed to create a large environmental disaster. Precedents in these matters suggest that BP will be punished so harshly that it will cease to exist.

Other greater environmental crimes, like carbon emission in the United States that cause drought and famine elsewhere, will go unpunished.

One Response

  1. Hi Robert – American’s love this blame culture when it suits them; unfortunately it rarely includes any guilt or acceptance of it themselves!


    Respect and Peace!

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