Friday, June 19, 2015

Paul Barrett's Law of the Jungle

Paul M. Barrett's Law of the Jungle is an unsatisfying book. Barrett is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek, and wrote about the Chevron case in Ecuador. Given the tone of the book, he also took what seems to be an intense dislike to Steven Donziger, the lawyer who was leading the anti-Chevron side. I lost count of the snide remarks. That colors the entire book.

The case itself is treated superficially since the focus is generally on Donziger. The basic thrust is that what Donziger says/does is suspect, and that Chevron's actions often (though to be fair, not always) can be taken at face value or considered to be logical. Barrett clearly views Chevron with sympathy, believing that at a minimum they are not responsible for cleanup since Petroecuador also spilled oil. The story is framed as a corrupt shakedown orchestrated by an unlikable ego-maniac. Yes, people may be suffering, but that's not Chevron (or Texaco's before it was bought) problem.

It's instructive, though, to see this fairly cold, pro-Chevron side of things. From Barrett's perspective, this is really a problem for Ecuador. After all, past governments made money from the oil and could've spent some it on cleanup. But they're too corrupt. Chevron can blithely walk away without a care, and without a shred of guilt. With all its investments, it actually was a positive force.





1 comments:

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