The Middle East Crisis

It’s not often I comment on global politics. But these are what the Chinese might refer to as “interesting times”. When looking at the world situation, you have to remember that international politics is amoral. It is seldom, if ever, anything to do with right or wrong. It is simply about what will benefit the particular nations interests most. In my case, this refers to the UK and, more generally the West.

Of course, wrapping up actions in the cloak of moral or religious imperative is a great way to sell policies to the electorate, but that isn’t the root cause.

For example, the Falklands War was partly because the islands give us a claim on a large area of the South Atlantic where there is potential for oil production plus the damage done to our International prestige if we allowed Argentina to simply kick us out.

None of this is new. If you should doubt this, study history. And read Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, which was always intended to be a practical manual of statecraft. Nothing has changed.

There are two perceived threats to the West from a Middle Eastern crisis. One is that some of the Islamic nations are being controlled by religious leaders who appear to be daft enough, or fanatical enough, to launch a full scale war against Western Nations if they ever get their hands on sufficient advanced weapons. Actually, I suspect this is much less likely than we are led to believe, but some do seem to be actively fermenting terrorist activity in the West.

The other is oil. If not actual ownership and control of oil, at least ensuring that an adequate supply is available to the industrialised nations. It’s not all that long ago that the dependancy on Middle Eastern Oil was critical. With American oil running out, many believed that, if the oilfields in Iran and, more especially, Iraq were to be in “the wrong hands” the West would be open to economic meltdown. Now that we have the ability to make use of shale oil (by fracking) this is seen as much less of a problem. Indeed, the boot is on the other foot - reducing our demand for Middle Eastern oil causes the suppliers a headache.

So, where is all this leading? Well, when Sadam Hussein was a well-behaved Western ally, it made good sense to support hime. We had a regular supply of oil, we could sell him arms, and the Iran-Iraq war kept Iran occupied in it’s own back yard. What better way to keep them quiet? Naturally, once this changed and the two nations made peace, there was the spectre of them both holding the West to ransom. Wasn’t it lucky that 9/11 could be used as an excuse for an invasion, even though Iraq had nothing to do with it. Actually, there appears to be a closer link with Saudi, but they have been much better behaved from our point of view.

Now, of course, the supply of oil from this region is much less of an issue. Our interests lie in letting Sunni and Shia Muslims fight each other and, if possible, supplying weapons to throw a little more fuel on the fire. It is of no interest whatsoever to us how the boundaries of Iraq end up, although we would obviously prefer the winners to look more favourably on the West than the more “radical” factions.

So don’t expect the West to intervene. It’s good news for us. We’re much better off letting Iran get involved instead. It’’s keep them quiet for a while. Also, the more it can be seen that the conflict is one religious sect versus another or, at least, one set of Muslims killing another, the more it takes the political/religious heat off the West.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are keeping pretty well out of it. They play the long game, and are not going to risk doing anything that would make them enemies. They’ll wait till it all quietens down, then move in to provide infrastructure reconstruction in return for supplies of oil. They’re already doing this quite successfully in Africa.