Thursday, October 04, 2012

the last oil war

Analyzing the meaning and historical context of the MidEast oil wars requires us to take a long and dispassionate view.

The ancient nation of Persia was welcomed into the modern, industrial age by England and Russia, during the 19th-century's "era of imperialism," when it was Europeans, not Americans who were screwing the world, and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (formed in 1908) was the ancestor of the modern British Petroleum (BP). The first oil war was fought there, and the last one will be also, when the U.S. war against Iran moves from its present low-intensity prelude stage to full invasion, in 2013 or 14.

The US got its foot in Persia's, now Iran's door as the British Empire was unravelling after World War II, when the CIA-run coup of 1953 overthrew the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh, who had kicked out the Brits and nationalized the country's oil industry. That stage of the oil wars was reversed 26 years later when the Iranian Revolution ended the American interlude, "with extreme prejudice" as CIA-types used to say during Vietnam.

In 1997, US neoconservatives, many of whom would serve in the Bush II administration, formed a think tank, the Project for a New American Century, and began laying plans for increased American global dominance in the wake of the Soviet collapse. Their most important policy paper, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," centered on the Persian Gulf region, citing its "special and commercial interests" there as vital to US global hegemony.

This policy statement established the neocon master plan for invading Iraq, overthrowing its Baathist regime, and establishing an American protectorate. However, its authors were ignorant of the Gulf's sectarian and ethnic divisions, so that when the Bush/Cheney administration blundered its way into that country in the aftermath of 9/11 and eliminated the Sunni Baathists, the result was a Shia-dominated government allied with the Iranian government next door. Iran won the Iraq War without lifting a finger!

This brings us up to the present, and our perceived necessity of war with Iran, which now dominates the northern part of the Gulf region from its Afghan and Pakistan borders on the east through Iraq and Syria, and on into Lebanon through the agency of the Shia militia Hezbollah. Our leaders, fixated on the phony "Iranian nuclear threat," appear as unaware of their true motivation for launching the upcoming war as an animal in rut. Imaginary Iranian nukes are an instant replay of Saddam's imaginary weapons of mass destruction, but we can't just say we're in it to grab the grease, and are obligated to concoct a cover story.

All of our wars and intervention in that region, including the Afghan war, in a country where there is no oil, are oil wars. They aren't necessarily fought for oil per se, but for political and strategic control of the region the oil comes from.

Relatively few US troops will be used in the war with Iran, which will mostly be fought with naval vessels offshore, and drone aircraft and tanks. The US may succeed in subduing the Iranian government and occupying the country, at which point the war will simply shift to Viet-Cong-style resistance and war of attrition. Eventually the US will abandon the struggle and leave, because the Iranians live there and we don't.

The southern part of the Gulf region, the Arabian Peninsula with its US-dependent House of Saud, will most likely stay with us, and we with them, despite its being the source of most of the belligerence we call "terrorism."

What all this means is that the US has now become a state incapable of acting in its own self interest, as it semi-consciously and reflexively pursues goals that are no longer viable, in a world undergoing transition from petroleum-based economies to new forms of energy. The oil wars are twentieth-century responses to a changing, twenty-first century globe, and can only make us weaker.

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