As we all know, the slightest slip up or misinterpretation on the Twitters can lead to some serious upset. I have made many twitter boo boo’s but in my top ten all time stinkers was a mention on the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre of the link between the attack and our dependence on oil.
This really upset people, I got a lot of very angry tweets, yet again surprising myself with my naivety and possibly stupidity. Many American’s admonished me for daring to make a connection. ‘It had nothing to do with oil, it was to do with terrorism and religion.’
I backed down pretty fast, what can you say to explain your position in 140 characters. Not much.
If you have more than 140 characters to play with it may be a little easier.
The developed world needs a lot of oil, the Middle East has a lot of oil. Yes, there’s political and military interference, there’s Israel, yes there’s funda-mentalism, but behind much of this strife there is oil. I’m not saying it’s the only reason, or even the primary one, but it’s a pretty damn chunky part of the problem.
I won’t bore you with figures but we send a lot of money into the Middle East to buy oil, really a lot, let’s just agree that it’s billions of dollars every week.
I don’t think anyone of any political outlook can deny that the Western world has meddled in a very serious way for many decades with the internal affairs of these countries.
We have either supported despots, bullies and screaming buffoons who have played along with us and sold us the back gold, or we have invaded them, killed hundreds of thousands of them and toppled the thugs we’ve spent the previous twenty years supporting and, ahem, clears throat just to hammer home the point, ‘installed democratic regimes.’
Like most people in the UK, I only have the faintest grasp of the incredible events currently taking place in the Middle East. I’m not going to pretend I have any special knowledge, I’m trying to take a broad, objective view of what is going on.
Essentially the despots we have been supporting, and when I say we I mean the UK and US governments chiefly, these brutal thugs have slowly lost their grip over the people they oppress with our direct military, technical and financial help.
They sell us oil, we sell them guns, tear gas, ammunition and any other tools they might need to maintain their grip on power. Last year alone we (the UK) sold Libya £33,899,335 worth of military equipment. I didn’t make that figure up, it comes from the UK governments own Export Control Organisation that gives licenses to manufacturers of such equipment in this country. The bullets and teargas, the rifles, machine guns and night sticks being used to kill and beat the people of Libya are made in factories in this green and pleasant land. I don’t know about you, but I’m not proud of that fact.
Of course, as any drug dealer will tell you, if we didn’t supply them, someone else would, but the simple fact is, we did supply them, just like we supplied Mubarak and of course, our old favourite, Saddam Hussein.
Our governments are under enormous pressure to make deals with people even they would probably rather not have to deal with because of one simple fact. We are massively dependent on what lies deep beneath the Middle East. We need their oil, simple as that, and we have to do anything and everything in order to secure that supply. If it destroys the country we get it from, that’s the price we, and obviously they have to pay. If the despots and power crazed loons we support cause such oppression and misery and some people turn to fundamentalist religion as an alternative, so be it. We must have the oil. Nothing else matters.
Did the endless flow of oil money help fund the fundamentalist fanatics? What do you think? Which incredibly powerful, mind numbingly rich family is old Osama a member of? Weirdly enough the same hyper rich family the Bush family have done business with for donkeys years. The jolly old Bin Laden’s.
They are not all terrorists, far from it, but loony Uncle Osama is. He’s exactly the same age as me by the way, spooky.
No one planned this ugly situation, no one is truly at fault, it’s just the way it’s happened. History has lead us here and we have to deal with it.
So when I said that the West’s need for oil had something to do with the 9/11 attacks I’m not citing some weird conspiracy theory, the history of the Middle East over the last 100 years has been at the same time empowered and destroyed by our addiction.
Surely one solution to this seemingly never ending distress is to wean ourselves off the stuff. If we stopped buying it, the result would be catastrophic, not for us, not for the general populations of the Middle East, but for the rulers. The mass of people there derive little or no benefit from the billions we send there every day, in fact most of the time they derive palpable harm from that money. It has created a brutal, bloated, ruthless ruling elite who will, as we have seen, do anything to cling to power.
And if, as we have seen with Mubarak, they are eventually toppled and they flee with billions in Swiss banks, how long will any new, democratic leadership last with the corrupting power and wealth of the oil corporations having lunch with them? Not long I fear.
I don’t blame the oil corporations, they are under enormous pressure from us to keep the sweet crude flowing. There is only one tap that can turn this off, that’s us. If we stop buying it, they will stop supplying it.
How can we stop buying it? Only by making an amazing effort and changing the way we live, travel and consume. I’m not saying it will be easy or cheap, but I am saying it is possible.
So, the factors behind the upheavals in the Middle East are many and complex, the factors behind the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks likewise, but however you look at it, oil is part of the equation.