It’s all abbout OIL!

While writing my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” I had many “meaningful discussions” with my editor Ed Plaisance (we are much too good friends to argue) because I insisted that politics in The Arabian/Persian Gulf – and the Mid-East generally – is all about Oil.

I insisted that the tag-line for the book reads:

It’s all about oil. If there was no oil the only expatriates in The Gulf would be a few archaelogists and biblical scholars . . . OIL is the new Great Game, a game made serious by millions of petrodollars – and blood.”

Given the complexity of the politics, tribal loyalties and religious biogotry of that region I must confess even I began to think that my analysis was simplistic. But I have been saved by reading that Bradley Manning (he of the massive Wikileaks fiasco) came to exactly the same conclusion. He says that mid-East politics is all about oil – and he was better placed and has a lot more information than me.

It is a fact that when American troops arrived in Baghdad to depose Saddam they imediately, as a priority, threw a tight cordon around the Ministry of Petroleum while leaving the Ministry of Antiquities and their museums and priceless artifacts from the dawn of our civilization completely unprotected. The antiquities were of course heavily looted.

Whatever happened to those out-of-date 2D seismic tapes from the MinPet that loosely defined Iraq’s proven and potential oil reserves?

It is now known that Iraq has enormous potential reserves – maybe rivaling Saudi Arabia – if they can overcome the tribal and religious divides. Unfortunately for the central government most of the oil potential lies in the Shia South and the Kurdish North.

And ironically, for all the trillions of dollars and young soldiers’ lives that America threw into replacing Saddam with a neo-democratic government they have little involvment in the development of the Iraq oil industry. Contracts have been awarded to a wide ranging number of oil companies from Russia, China, Korea, Malaysia etc.

International Oil is the new Great Game. A game made serious by trillions of petrodollars = and the unending flow of blood. Think ISIS.

If you want insights into The West’s relationship with the Middle East and its complexity from the weird and wonderfull perspective of the expatriates who wash up there, preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

How ya gonna keep’em down on the Farm (after they’ve seen Paree)?

The song with the above title was written in 1919 shortly after the end of WWI. Intended to be a cheerful little upbeat number, in fact it subconsciously tapped into deep underlying concerns in America – as so many popular songs do.

Even before the cataclysmic 1914-18 conflict young people were leaving the farms of the mid-West for the bright lights and perceived glamour of city life in LA, Chicago and New York. After the war the returning soldiers had enormous problems settling into plain and simple rural America after the sophistication of Europe – and, let’s face it, the excitement, cameraderie and terror of trench warfare where under the threat of violent death they experienced life more fully in one day than most people live in a lifetime. And so they became the “Lost Generation”.

Nowhere was this more manifest than in the incredible fevered artistic scene in Paris after WWI, where artists like Picasso, Braque and Miro, and musicians like Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Manuel de Falla were joined by American expatriate writers like Gertrude Stein, John dos Passos, Henry Miller and Ezra Pound.

The most outstanding example of this lost generation was of course my hero, Ernest Hemingway. Let’s face it, although his father was a suburban doctor, Hemingway was a naïve Kansas backwoodsman until at 19 he volunteered as an ambulance driver, was badly wounded on the Italian front, and found it impossible to settle back into the USA. He spent his struggling indigent and most fruitful artistic formative years in Paris – and that city was his only true love.

Perhaps it was because of his simple and innocent mid-American background that Hemingway was able to see with fresh and childlike eyes the breadth, the depth and the beauty of European culture?

In these more scientific times we diagnose soldiers returning from Afghanistan and the Gulf Wars as suffering from PTSD and feed them antidepressants to block out their experiences, instead of letting them work through the culture shock of being exposed to a violent and elemental tribal life far removed from the synthetic Big Mac/CocaCola lifestyle they have been force fed all their young and innocent lives. And who knows how many Hemingways we have lost in the process – although ironically it was depression that forced Hemingway to take his ownlife?

In the story “Ya Hear what Ah’m Saying” in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” I deal with the struggles of a traumatized soldier returning from the Viet Nam War – the second of America’s post WWII disastrous attempts to impose their one-size-fits-all free market so-called democracy on the world (think Korea and watch MASH). Like many Viet Nam vets he found it impossible to settle back into the USA after exposure to the brutality of American foreign policy and the subtle charms of Asia. Read Graham Greene’s THE QUIET AMERICAN for insights into the Viet Nam conflict.

If you want insights into the disease that afflicts The West’s relationship with the Middle East and its complexity from an expatriate perspective, preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.