Sunday, September 28, 2014

an empire if you can buy it


A common complaint amongst Commonwealth troops ( or, at least, amongst the governments who had sent them ) was that they were stuck in the muddy trenches in Europe while English troops were being squandered in pointless fighting or occupation in the middle east.  Indeed, how was one to defeat the Hun if you were looking for him in the wrong places?  From the point of view of folks that thought ending an entire generation for the glory of overthrowing a few monarchs and instilling democratic governments ( hint, cough, hint, Woodrow Bankers Asswhore Wilson ) was a super wonderful idea, it just seemed like one more bonehead move the Limey’s were so keen at.  Ah, but even back when the Brits had been barely doing more than dipping their big toe into the waters of the Oil Age, they knew how vital the stuff was.  Vital enough to place their treasury in jeopardy and go to war over it ( it wasn’t just an obscure archduke being assassinated but WHERE he was knocked off- a critical junction at the soon to be constructed Berlin-Bagdad railroad which would have given Germany middle eastern petroleum supplies [ at that time in the Syrian area, which also concerned the French ] ).  But their victory was for the most part Pyrrhic.  Being bankrupted from the conflict to the point they couldn’t keep their possessions, or keep them out of the United States hands, British control of oil was a fleeting thing.


The UK for all intents and purposes controlled the middle east.  And could not hold on to it.  Just because you capture the prize does not mean you can keep it.  Which seems to be the situation the US is in today.  It would seem, at first glance and without the clear hindsight of looking back at history, our economic collapse is denuding our ability to hold militarily.  We are e-printing money like mad as country after country is oh so carefully sliding away from our currency as a trading chit in oil.  Rather than being an either/or, an on or an off, it would seem that just the slight loss of control we have already seen is enough to have tipped us over the edge of control ability.  ISIS taking back Iraq would therefore not be just an embarrassing blunder on the part of the most embarrassing President of this soon to be defunct Republic but a harbinger of more things to come.  If the center can not hold, what do you get?  This proclamation of the end of military mastery will of course be met with derisive catcalls of jingoistic fervor, as is to be expected.  And this might just be a false alarm.  But if you don’t expect Black Swan events, that bird usually takes a big crap on your head before slamming into your torso and self-destructing in a fiery fireball.  Just saying.

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  1. "Ah, but even when the Brits had been barely doing more than dipping their big toe into the waters of the Oil Age, they knew how vital the stuff was."

    "...but when we won, it was charged against me that the British petrol royalties in Mesopotamia were become dubious, and that the French Colonial policy ruined int he Levant.

    I am afraid that I hope so. We pay for these things too much in honour and in innocent lives. I went up the Tigris with one hundred Devon Territorials, young, clean, delightful fellows, full of the power of happiness and of making woman and children glad. By them one saw vividly how great it was to be their kin, and English. And we were casting them by thousands into the fire to the worst of deaths, not to win the war but that the corn and rice and oil of Mesoppotamia might be ours."

    Introductory Chapter.
    "Seven Pillars of Wisdom"
    T.E. Lawrence

    1. I think I know now why I haven't read his book yet. A bit too flowery.

  2. Ordered it long ago but haven't gotten to it yet ( it is on loan to a minion ). One of these days.