The snake-oil salesman advises; “If your political ratings are low, find, or create, a villain, infuse your military might, and the hawks will lead the press to idolize you.” Yes, it does work - for a while.
We live in the Age of Information, so are daily bombarded with truths, alternate truths, and outright lies. We also live in the Age of Materialism where all members of a family feel compelled to pursue whatever currency their society embraces, often to the detriment of the environment, but to the benefit of scam artists. This leaves little time to sort out the truth to feed open minds, and the responsibility of researching and extracting the truth even though, like absolute zero in temperature, we can never achieve it.
I know that, as I compose this short blog, my own views will change as I contemplate, some for the umpteenth time, a tiny fraction of facts all mixed up in a mountain too large to see or understand.
Is there no solution, short of a new French Revolution, to halt the man-made sufferings of millions of innocents in the Middle East and elsewhere? Actually, it is easy to uncover many culprits if we care to filter through the mountains of evidence and recall history. But, who really is to blame for the Syrian mess? WWI, the French, Assad, his father, Syrians themselves, or outsiders including Israel, the CIA, and us? The puzzling release of Sarin and chlorine gas that caused such pain and death to a hundred sleeping civilians in Khan Sheikhoun is a perfect excuse to mislay the blame and invade Syria to divert its oil (to add to the huge new find in the stolen Golan Heights that Israel is fortifying even more) to the Haifa pipeline to enrich further a few billionaires who have no concern for the millions of humans they have already sacrificed to Greed. Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya have been left quarreling serfs, and except for Yugoslavia, used to flow their once locally-owned oil into ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron profits. The long history of manufactured atrocities to justify this leaves us highly suspicious of the current one. Trump, who refuses to help Syrian refugees, or shed a tear for the hundreds of innocents killed in US air strikes, lost little time in ordering the conveniently-off-the-Syrian-shore USS Porter and Ross to rain 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Syrian Shayrat air base, an act of war against Assad for a crime he may not have committed. The evidence, manufactured?, does point in his direction but makes no sense. Why would he harm himself? And the horrible loss of life was much less than so many other atrocities we ignore or shrug off or never hear about. But what is sadly evident is, like so many politicians, slipping in home popularity, Trump resorted to war to unite the country’s press and numerous hawks behind him. The scary fear is that he will use more war to augment his popularity.
Also disillusioning is the Qatar Petroleum-Rosneft lucrative deal set up in the tax haven of the Bahamas. Russia and Qatar proxies are killing each other in Syria but that is of little concern to oil giants.
Oil was innocent enough in the beginning. The world’s first commercial oil field was in SW Ontario founded by James Williams in 1858, followed in Pennsylvania in 1859 by Edwin Drake who stole the publicity for being the first. Actually, the Baku, Azerbaijan, oil field used in the 900s predates them, and Marco Polo reported it to us in the 1260s.
The first Middle East oil discovery was in 1908 at Masjed Soleiman, Persia, financed by London’s William D’Arcy who in 1901 paid the Shah £20,000 for a 60-year lease to explore most of Persia with a promise of 16% of any profits. He hired geologist George Reynolds who, after 7 years of fruitless efforts, was ordered to quit but dallied just long enough to strike oil. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, (APOC that became BP in 1954), was formed and a refinery built at Abadan which for 50 years was to be the world’s largest producer. In 1913 Winston Churchill, an early stock holder, to avoid reliance on Royal Dutch Shell and Standard Oil, infused a large UK investment and converted the Royal Navy from British coal to more efficient cheap Persian oil.
After the 1919 breakup of the relatively-benign Ottoman Empire with its ethnic equality, Abadan was followed by finds in Georgia by the Turkish Petroleum Company. In 1920 APOC acquired a 50% interest in it, then, in 1923, an immense oil field was found in Kirkuk - the main reason for the current destruction of Iraq.
Our further search for the real culprits goes back to the 1919 Ottoman Empire break-up which needed a little help, starting in the 1700s. The British agent, whose code name was Hempher, pretended to be Muslim. He befriended Sheik Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-92), gradually convincing him to create a breakaway, extreme form of Islam, now known as Wahhabism thus upsetting Islamic unity. When he began teaching this he was evicted from his home town, so, with Hempher’s help, went elsewhere, recruited, with British financial help, a Bedouin army, and allied with Sheik Mohammad al-Saud. They brutally conquered most of Arabia.
In 1818, the Ottoman Caliph in Constantinople ordered his Egyptian army to crush them which it did and beheaded al-Saud. In Bahrain, then part of the British Empire, the Saud house sought, and got, an alliance with Britain. In 1891, Turkey supported al-Rasheed who attacked Riyadh, defeating the Saudi-Wahhabi clan who fled to Kuwait to rebuild, again with British help. In 1902, they recaptured Riyadh, burning to death 1,300 people. They brutally created Saudi Arabia and murdered 6,000 Hejazi. Imam Abdulazizi destroyed all opposition and many holy Islamic sites, had 300 wives, owned hundreds of slaves, caused over 400,000 deaths including 40,000 public executions and forced over a million to flee the country. He died in 1953. His 4 sons, Saud, Faisal, Khaid, and Fahad, all became brutal dictators.
To gain a US foothold in the Middle East, FDR in 1945 befriended King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud to form a lasting Saudi-US friendship, taking over the British role. Today the Saudis are the world largest importer of arms and the top deniers of human rights. The US, UK, and Canadian arms industries all have blood on their hands as they continue to put Greed ahead of Humanity.
The current ruler, since 2015, is King Salman Abdulazzi al-Saud with a net worth of $17 billion. In Yemen the Saudis lead a 9-nation Sunni war against the Shiite Houthi (anti al Qaida and supported by Iran).
But, to get back to Syria: Having made basket cases out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, but failed to do so in Iran for its oil, our predators turned on Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
Syria was the most tolerant and well-informed society in the Middle East. Tourists claimed it was the safest. Its sin was to retain control over its own oil rather than participating in the pipeline that skirted Russia and led to the Haifa refinery that supplied Europe. To rectify this our oil manipulators chose the border town a Derra with a population of 150,000 to inject ‘freedom fighters’ to assist those opposed to Assad. These imports were made up of CIA-recruited-and-paid Al-Qaida, armed with weapons seized from Libya. They also injected enough ISIS to seize Raqqa. How baffling! Having used Al-Qaedda and IS-ISIL-ISIS-Daesh to destabilize Syria, we now fight them, or at least pretend to.
Even Syrian refugees are confused. Many blame all the fighting on imported thugs while some do blame Assad. Also baffing are the wars for oil when its profits are now dwindling, leaving only dominance and empire the goals. Who else benefits? Netanyahu, a major world criminal, uses Syrian instability as one of his excuses to fight Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran while fostering an apartheid state and the theft of Palestinian land, shamefully using US-supplied arms and money.
Most dangerous of all is the fact that continued instability fills the pockets of those who rely on the arms industry. This encourages them to continue to induce instability.
Greed does lurk in most of us but Much wants More. The majority of humans can control it. Too often they have been controlled by those who cannot thus causing much suffering and bloodshed. The inadequately fed, clothed, housed, and armed Russian soldiers in WWI, being slaughtered in their millions, finally forced Russia to abandon the war. Marx, Engels, Lenin, et al developed a communism of equality that frightened the capitalistic West so much they invaded with armies and an air force led by a Canadian, William Barker, with 52 victories. The Red-White war crippled the promises of communism and led to the Stalin atrocities. Fear of communism led to McCarthyism in the USA and US aggression in Vietnam.
Manufactured fear remains a disease in the US. It also contributes to a world of instability in which Leagues of Nations, United Nations, European Unions, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) encounter problems in achieving a peaceful world. Of no help is the US military dominance and its adding $54 billion to an already-bloated military budget. Devoting a further $1 trillion to nuclear upgrading is to guarantee human extinction. We need, instead, organic farming to rectify the abuses that create poverty and all of those ‘terrorist’ groups.
So, humanity is still faced with the age-old problem of the majority being controlled by the greedy. Surely, we are now capable of solving the problem of escaping this, shy of another Revolution of the Masses.
This is one world and each of us is part of a cosmic whole. Your atoms and mine will last as long as our universe does, yet they are destined to soon merge in a vast sea of atoms seeking different associations. Let us leave with the satisfaction that our current atoms have achieved something worthy of having been associated, even if so briefly. As my RCAF motto tells me: Per Ardua ad Astra (Through Difficulties to the Stars).
Ye Olde Scribe