One person's thoughts may change the world
In the illustration above, the exportation of oil is a crowded field. Lucrative, but very crowded. and each country has to maintain a certain amount of price point to keep this great fragile oil oligopoly going. It’s a matter of percentages, weather, politics, war, real estate, capacity, and illusion. As of this writing the price oil was around 32 dollars a barrel. Saudi Arabia is flooding the market with oil. So are the others. Iran is about to come online and change the game of oil pricing I think. Everyone is protecting their precious market share.
Two weeks ago I watched GPS, ( Global Public Square ), hosted by Freed Zakaria, and he did a very good and comprehensive analysis of the state of the Middle East, how the United States was drawn into the war on terror, and even his admittance that he though the invasion of Iraq was initially a good thing. He thought democratization of Iraq would be a model for the rest of the Middle East to follow.
Well, this (the Iraq war) is where a few starting points I’d like to address as to why we were/are there because the hour allotted for GPS was not enough to explain all of the reasons for the war. I will jump around a bit, by bringing up some historical facts and opinions (mostly mine), but hopefully, you will get the overall picture, and hopefully it will make sense. I have elaborated many of these points in previous blogs, but perhaps a more comprehensive approach will make this quagmire ( middle east war) make sense. But here are some of issues that the Middle East faces:
Dictatorships and Monarchies have dominated the Middle East landscape in the 20th century. These two labels are one in the same as far as I’m concerned. In the Middle East, or Arab world, this type of rule gives people no representation, unless, and the key word is “unless”, you have the same type of faith or religious the ruling party has. It also helps to be a relative, friend, or ally because we all know, there is “good lineage” and “bad lineage”, right? Monarchies were basically swept away after WWI in Europe for various reasons (war, treaties based upon family connections, human evolution, poor leadership of those “destined” to be the next king or queen, economics, the industrial revolution, etc…) which causes the country to slow its introduction into the modern age. This has far reaching implications because of the unsettled nature of the Islamic faith (Sunni vs Shia). Monarchies and dictatorships also have a negative effect on the public it abuses, poverty, exploitation, and despondence.
In some of these countries, such as Iraq, the minority Sunni was in leadership position, thus using oil money to bribe local factions, control, purchase weapons, etc. to strengthen their grip on leadership. If the United States, England, or other European powers wanted to obtain their allegiance, they would offer up weapons sales, treaties, humanitarian aid, infrastructure improvements, access to money, ( all for a price) to purchase their relationship. Now, these relationships initially grew out of access to other parts of the world, mainly India for England, and Indonesia and south East Asia for France. Then after the discovery of oil in the Middle East, the relationships grew more focused with countries like, Iran, what was to be Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Dictatorships and Monarchies strengths are that they know the landscape of their people, know how to manipulate them, and generally rule out of fear and oppression. The same can be said about their weaknesses. The manipulation creates resentment, fear and oppression become anger and resistance, and generally results in a very opposite swing in the pendulum when it comes for change in government, i.e…. civil war. Add the external influences such as the Cold War superpowers, it usually extends or shortens the ruling classes reign. Case in point, the Ottoman Empire was a very long running and semi-peaceful (internally) Sunni Muslim Empire, which benefitted from peaceful transition of leadership, although some Sultans were weaker than others, but, lagged behind in military technology and innovation as it moved towards the 20th century because of religious conservatism. The final blow to an already dying Monarchy was backing Germany in WWI. The winners’ divided up the spoils of war, which lead to the creation of Syria and Iraq.
Plainly put, modern dictatorships are a result of the “oil state”. These were former areas of nomadic groups who had semi autonomy over certain areas or regions. Once oil was found, the colonial power then aligned themselves with whom they thought were the prevailing powers. By giving that person support ( guns, ammo, loans, goods, etc. ), they bought their way into setting up contracts that virtually gave them most of the oil profit, and only a small portion, usually going to the person or persons they have supported. Thus, the exploitation of those “countries” began. Basically it’s 20th century servitude, sharecropping, or plainly put, slavery. Dictators are not elected by the people. They buy their influence, and kill anyone whom they see as a threat (i.e. “Night of the long knives”). Everyone else just gets the crumbs off the dictator’s table. So, countries drawn by lines that didn’t exist before the colonials came, tribal areas are split, land exploitations, and a dictator who keeps the thumb on the subjugated people in order to stay in power. Up until this point the “House of Saud”, has been exempt. It is a plausibility that they may be next.
Sunni vs Shia religious war. This is the Muslim equivalent of the Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier fight which has been going on too long. I am not going to elaborate on it, as well as try to explain it, I’m saving that for another blog, or dissertation, whichever comes first. It’s a matter of choice in ideologies of the religion, so either live with those choices and respect each other and live peacefully, or, have the knock down drag out fights of the millennium and settle it. Now, this will also determine what century you truly want to live in, the 21st century or the 7th. If it’s the 7th, you may die a similar death of the Ottoman Empire, but much more violent, just remember that.
The reason why Fareed Zakaria thought the invasion of Iraq would help the Middle East is that he thought it would finally break the cycle of the Sunni, Shia division, and move the Middle East into a democratized state, with Iraq being the shining example. He forgot one critical element that most people who were not born in this country make the mistake of: The form of Democracy in the United States is unique to its people here, and cannot be exported as a whole to other countries. It may seem that way to them because they see the diversity in this country, but they do not quite understand the United States cultureless value system is the root of its strengths. In many countries I have spoken of in this blog, their culture runs deep, and many times, stained in blood, and not settled.
Outside influences. Many leaders in the Middle East have been propped up by Cold War influences, which started at the very end of WWII. These agreements involved trade relations, government works projects, resource exploitation, and also the purchase of military weapons, in order to subjugate their constituents and promote regional power. The Shah of Iran purchased many of its military weapons from the United States before the revolution took place. But, these influences were there before and during WWI, with Germany wanting to build a railroad from Iraq to Germany to exploit Iraq’s new found oil reserves. This even has its roots in the Berlin Conference, which the European powers, in their mad rush to exploit Africa, decided to do it in a way which would not cause a war between them, and to spread Christianity to those poor lost souls of the dark continent of Africa. Not one African tribe was invited to this meeting. Those agreements served as a means of cooperation between the European powers, at least for the African continent, it didn’t serve them well for other means, mainly WWI. Let it be known, that the “mad rush to Africa”, was an abomination, which once again, raped, killed, and destroyed civilians and their societies. Africa was plundered once again, but this time it was for it natural resources.
Now you might not make that much of a distinction of any connections, but there is. The connection is European intervention and exploitation dividing up areas of land around the world based upon their notion of economic advantage. It worked at first because people really didn’t have the means to protest their subjugation. The Berlin Conference was one of the greatest atrocities of all time, with King Leopold II of Belgium leading the way. The cutting off of hands and feet, genocide, rape, and the destruction of a culture lies at his feet. From about 1885 to 1908 the Congo basin was owned by him alone. Belgium took over after 1908 until 1960. Ivory, minerals, and rubber. They achieved this by brutalizing the native inhabitance by kidnaping, murder, mutilation, and robbery. Leopold II may be responsible for over 10 million Congolese deaths. You don’t see this on the History Channel….
The Iraq invasion released the dragon of oil. “If you’re going to invade Iraq, you’re going to have to own it”, is a quote from Colin Powell, then Secretary of State of the United States, was his warning to George Bush as the United States invaded Iraq. I can remember an op-ed, criticizing Secretary of State Powell’s remark, saying it was too vague and not specifically directed at anything during the war. Too bad no one listened to Colin Powell. What he meant was, we were going to have to organize Iraq in a way that would keep sectarian violence to a minimum, keep the lights and plumbing on, guide them to a path of self-governance, keep their army intact as well as their police units, you know, all those wonderful things that keep a country running. Bush didn’t do that. He disbanded the army and police immediately, and the looting and lawlessness began. The war was based upon weapons of mass destruction, then after not finding any, walked it back to freedom for the Iraqi people, then walked it back to stop the violence to women and children, then stepped back to…. You get the picture, there was no real evidence, nor smoking gun, Saddam was already bottled up with the no fly zone over his country, it was just a matter of time that he would either implode, or, as tensions lowered with Iran, his position in the Middle East would have forced him to change his mind about his precarious position. We waited out Castro, Saddam would have been easy to wait out as well. Oh I forgot, he sits on the 5th largest oil reserve. The oil dragon wanted to be fed, and Iraq was an easy target for them. No bid contracts for Halliburton, same old oil contract to extract oil out of a country yet only allowing the upper echelon to enjoy the fruits of the wealth. All the old names appear here, Shell, Exxon, BP, AP, GAZPROM, and other have short and long term contract.
We have to remember what else we are dealing with in the Middle East. The “Seven Sisters” way of business if virtually over. Setting up contracts with fictitious countries, dictators and monarchies is over. At one time this conglomerate owned 85 percent of all oil reserves around the world. There is something out there called the “The New Seven Sisters”, which is a consortium of companies based upon state owned and OPEC influenced. Even though there are new influences in the oil industry, the game is the same, they try to manipulate oil not based upon need, but rather, “How they feel”, along with what they think the market can bear.
If there were no oil in the Middle East, there would still be violence in the world, but it would probably be elsewhere. Those tribes would be nomadic but realizing the need to further land acquisition and education, but this would be no more than a National Geographic special, nothing near what it is now.
OK I’m done, I’ll do a part three if I feel necessary, peace baby…