Monday, 3 November 2014

The Middle East Wars, Oil and the US. The Last Days of Rome?

This article is a very general summary of the wars in the Middle East and Arab resistance to the West over the last 50 years - in all its different forms. The piece started off as a response to a friend asking my opinion of a Robert Fisk interview (link below) with someone who argues that the various countries of the Middle East have been deliberately destroyed. I Agree that this has been the case, but disagree as to why this has been US policy. This is a very controversial idea - but it is the key idea that motives the 'Last Days of Rome Blog'. Lastly, the whole article is obviously a hugely simplified summary as it would take a 100,000 page house brick of a book (as well as a huge research team) to 'prove' this theory. To be honest, people can take it or leave it, but it is the understanding that i have developed over 10 years of amateur study of the region and its place in modern world history and politics.

Its very credible. Robert Fisk is one of the best journalists in the world and he has lived in the middle east - documenting each conflict - for over 30 years. Because his home is Lebanon, his extensive list of contacts means that he is one of the few people who has had enough trust to get access to Syrian generals and politicians over the last few years. He doesn't want to take the regimes side, rather he wants to let them tell their side of the story because no-one is doing that. (And because the Syrian government is so suspicious of western journalists - probably rightly so - its not letting anyone tell its side of the story except for the official government propaganda office.

So the journalism is very credible. But how credible are the ideas of the woman he's talking to? Well for that you have to see where she's coming from. She is a member of an almost extinct (or at least, dis empowered) Pan-Arab nationalist movement that grew up in the 50's and 60's. It was mostly defined by opposition to Israel and by a desire to united the Arab world into one state. Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya were the major players. All of them established secular semi-socialist dictatorships to push these two goals - oppose Israel and unite the Arabs. This movement was gradually weakened through the 70's and 80's as the West skillfully exploited the conflicts between these different countries and singled them out in different ways.

Their failure to be effective opponents of US imperialism in the middle east (and to liberate Palestine) meant that they weakened a lot in the 80's and 90's and have been all but wiped out in the last 15years. Syria was the last secular, Arabist regime standing after Iraq and Libya were destroyed and Egypt was bought off in the 80's. So over the last 30 years as this movement has grown weaker Islamic resistance has grown stronger. In the early phase this was Iranian Shia Islamism (inspired by the over-throwing of the pro-US dictatorship in Iran) and more recently Sunni Islamism (funded by Iran's rival, Saudi Arabia. The contradiction in this is that Sunni militancy and terrorism see's itself as fighting against the West, but because it is funded and supported by the pro-western Saudis, mostly ends up fighting the wests enemies (the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Syrian regime, the Iraqi regime, the Iranian regime, the Libyan regime.

So what we have now across the middle east is the two forms of Islamism going for each others throats. The traditionally anti-western Shai islamism led by Iran and the supposedly anti-western Sunni islamism whose foot soldiers believe they are fighting the West but mostly end up doing the Wests dirty work for it.

I personally don't feel all this is about protecting Israel. The fact that the US has been supporting both sides of this in different ways (Threatening Syria one year then fighting its enemies the next - calling Iran evil one year, then working with them to fight Isis the next) only go to persuade me more that the US is trying to destabilise and collapse Middle Eastern society altogether, an idea that few people (such as the woman in the interview) support because of its hugely scary consequences.

The US knows that it cannot control the middle east outright any more, and yet it needs to do so because most of the oil that the international economy runs off comes from that area. So if it doesn't control that area, it loses its control of the world economy as well.

But this presents a third option. Make it so that no-one can control the region. Destroy the fabric of the economy and society so badly that it will take generations to repair. Whilst this is unfolding, there is plenty of opportunity to pirate out lots of oil, but ultimately, it will mean that no-one controls the oil. In fact, Oil production needs a certain amount of stability as it is a complicated process, so there will soon not be much oil production to control.

This sounds like madness, because surely the US needs the regions oil as much as its Chinese, Russian, Indonesian and Indian rivals do? Not anymore it doesn't. The mad rush towards fracking, Canadian Tar sands and deep sea drilling in the gulf of Mexico - all horrible ways of getting oil - mean that the North American continent is very nearly oil self sufficient again. That is a very scary thought. US oil production has been declining since the 1970's, but in just this last few years it has started booming again.

This in effect means that the US has military control of the life blood that all of its rivals need to survive, but that it does not need this live blood itself. So when it feels its power waning because its rivals are all getting stronger, and it is no longer rich enough or powerful enough to fully hold down the middle eastern supplies, the coldly logical thing to do is a 'scorched earth' policy of destroying the area completely. (But also doing it slowly enough that it doesn't kick off a third world war).

If Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia eventually go for each others throats (instead of fighting proxy wars in Iraq and Syria) this will certainly have the effect of completely destroying the middle east - which is exactly the direction things seem to be going in.

I first became convinced of this idea ten years ago after the US invaded Iraq and was obviously destroying all the countries institutions - making the country uncontrollable to them and anyone else. But the flaw at the time was that the US needed the regions oil as much as anyone else did. Now however, 10 years into this destabilisation strategy, they are virtually independent in oil terms. Why do you think the other powers like China put up with so much bullshit from the US? The US has them by the balls. The Russians have enough oil and gas for themselves - with quite a bit to export - but they don't have nearly enough to share around all of the Asian powers, and without control of the seas they would have no way of delivering it against the US's wishes when push came to shove and trade sanctions would be applied.

We don't just use oil for heat and transport - everyone in the world literally eats oil these days as it requires 10 calories of Oil fuel to make 1 calorie of human food or human 'fuel'. All of these huge third world countries - who own the US's debt and theoretically have the power to bankrupt the US tomorrow if they wanted - would only survive a matter of weeks politically if the oil was cut off, and the famines would kick in violently within a year even if the political elites of these countries managed to survive the instability caused by power cuts and transport shutdowns of the early oil-less days.

All of this has the sound of the conspiracy theory about it because it is so far from the mainstream narrative that we are told through the media that it is unimaginable. But it does not require any vast conspiracy or grand plans. A small handful of neo-conservative politicians in the US, UK and Israel have managed to bring about this instability - whilst they have also encouraged corporations to explore the alternative oil sources like fracking, tar sands etc, most people on the left agree on that. Academics like chomsky have documented the fact thats these wars have been caused by a small group of neo-cons clearly and distinctly. And destroying a region is 10 times easier that trying to conquer it and hold it. To me, the idea promoted by most mainstream lefties - that the US is trying to conquer the middle east to hold it - is more conspiratorial because it would require much more planning, deceit and cooperation to build a direct old style colonial empire like that.

It is only very rarely in history that an imperial power finds itself in control of one small region that everyone in the world is dependent upon for their survival. Destroying the resources that your enemy needs in order to survive is really, really common, but this situation is quite unique. The vast majority of the third worlds population lives on a vast life support machine (created by modern agriculture's dependence on oil) that gets 60-70% of its power from the middle east. If the flow of power is shut off, the machine shuts down, the food stops being produced, people starve and governments fall.

Whenever i spell this argument out to people - they react negatively because it is so unthinkably horrible. But it makes a lot of cold sense, its explains the events in the middle east over the last ten years better than either the mainstream or the left wing narratives and it is only as genocidal as what the Nazi regime was about, or what the British Empire did to the native Americans and Aborigine's, or what the Spanish did to the South Americans. As soon as you drop this idea that we live in a period of history that is some how 'nicer' or 'more civilised' than all of the periods that have come before it, the logic of the argument becomes pretty clear. Our elite is desperate.

Its the Last days of Rome. The Anglo-Saxon dominance of the world economy - that has lasted for hundreds of years - is waning. And once that has gone they won't be able to afford the guns to stay in military control either. They are being out competed on the economy, the Western created industrial revolution is threatening to choke the planet and drown all of us and the third world population is booming out of control. The West is slipping. The established power elites in the west can see it slipping and they are not going to be first empire in history to NOT put up a fight on the way down if there is any hope they can save their own miserable arses. When seen in this light, this strategy is no more insanely genocidal than those used by other collapsing empires that have clung to power.

Cheers Cai for the inspiration to spill all this out in one place :-D

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