Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I am indebted to Mr Bagehot's excellent publication for drawing my attention to an interesting book by a Mr Kenneth Pollack. Mr Pollack was at some point on the National Security Council of the United States. His book is entitled A Path Out of the Desert but of equal interest is his description of the path into the desert.

Mr Pollack is frank where others have dissimulated. I am aware of controversy both sides of the Atlantic about the source of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is an undoubted fact that the public and legislators of both nations were assured that the nation of Iraq possessed what were termed as "weapons of mass destruction". In time it became clear that these weapons did not exist and there was no reasonable evidence at the time that they might exist. The invasion was therefore a fraud.

However it is my recollection that when, occasionally, challenged on the matter the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States would affirm that they did not regret the invasion as, on the one part, the leader of Iraq was an evil person and, on the second part, that the insurgents associated with Al Qaeeda had somehow established a foothold in this nation. The title of Mr Pollack's tome epitomises the problem that then arose: that the allies were unable to pacify Afghanistan as they had diverted forces to Iraq; that whether or not Al Qaeeda had a base in Iraq prior to invasion it became established ten times over following invasion; that there is little gratitude to invaders who promise "liberation".

Mr Pollack, as I stated, is frank. The title of his first chapter is simply OIL.

And that is the nub of the matter. Mr Pollack argues that the western powers were right to secure their "strategic" interest in oil in the Middle East and that they were right to act out of "self interest". His publishers have posted his first chapter for all to read at no cost.

If anyone doubted that there was a kind of secret diplomacy lying behind the outrage of the 2003 invasion, the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents, this is evidence indeed. Undoubtedly Britain and the USA conspired to conduct a war for commercial purposes solely.

As I have stated repeatedly over many decades, commerce and warfare should not be bedfellows. When Palmerston terrorised China over opium imports, he was wrong, morally and strategically. These are mistakes that return with interest ten-fold, undermining international relations for generations.

Civilised nations now stand on the brink of a precipice as the price of this oil rises relentlessly. There is a forgetfulness that oil is not the only lubricant of commerce and industry. The world has come to rely upon it; but that is a mistake the world has made. Variations in price have signalled many times, I suspect, that oil is expendable, that it is limited. The world economy will now have to adjust as best it can. And the invasion of Iraq in 2003 will not have made the slightest difference to the risks posed by a continued over-reliance on oil.


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

My Dear Gladstone -

As You have seen fit to continue Your interest in My Humble Web Log, I thought it only Fitting and Proper that I return the favor.

I remain, as always, most graciously and humbly yours -
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford

WEG said...

My dear Kruse-Safford

May I thank you for your kind reciprocation. It is most heartening to have an audience in your great nation.

I have read with interest and great concern your present commentary. I fear it lends some considerable support to my preceding argument about the deceit and dissimulation that surrounds modern statesmanship and international events this century.

With your permission I will attach a permanent link to it here:

The Anthrax Suspect

Geoffrey Hussein Kruse-Safford said...

My Dear Gladstone -

During your first full tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer and your second premiership, you showed a highly experimental quality, both in regards to fiscal policy and as regards administrative decentralization (your administration, I do believe, passed a major piece of legislation on Parish councils, giving far more local control over decision-making).

The world has changed drastically in terms of quality in the century and a half since then, but the solutions, it seems, remain the same - an openness to inventiveness and a realistic assessment not only of alternatives but of political options. It seems that both are lacking, at least in my own Great Republic. I would hope that a person of your qualities might emerge, either in Britain or the United States, who would have the courage and foresight to manage our affairs with your deft hand, without, perhaps, your penchant for self-righteousness.

As always, your American friend,
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford

Geoffrey Hussein Kruse-Safford said...

Mr Dear Gladstone -

In reference to a post a bit further down, while I hesitate to reveal my ignorance of the party politics of the United Kingdom, some clarification might help. Are the Liberal Democrats the heirs of your party? Is there an organized party of (anti-monarchist) Republicans in your political system? I do hope this last question is not considered presumptuous.


WEG said...

Indeed, so far as I can ascertain, it is Mr Clegg and his Liberal Democrats, who carry the banner bequeathed by the great Liberal party. They continue to govern in many shires and municipalities, including my own beloved city of Liverpool, although somewhat diminished at Westminster. There appears to be no major party that is concerned about the removal of the monarchy and, I am sure, so long as her gracious majesty remains in post, this will continue to be the case.

Regarding your previous dispatch, I will hesitate to make prescriptions for your great land although it does seem to me that the elevation of Mr Obama would be bold and far-sighted, restoring moral authority to your nation. I would only wish he had the opportunity to gain experience in some other higher office before taking the greatest place. Please be assured that in my time I learnt many lessons from your magnificent constitution and your system of federated states.
Yours ever