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Ferdinand E. Banks

Ferdinand E. Banks

Ferdinand E. Banks, Uppsala University (Sweden), performed his undergraduate studies at Illinois Institute of Technology (electrical engineering) and Roosevelt University (Chicago), graduating with honors in…

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More about Libya

Many years ago in Chicago, a man that I knew and heartily disliked, married to a beautiful actress and dancer, abandoned his bed in the middle of the night, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, put on his clothes, and left his apartment for the purpose of making  a ‘citizen’s arrest’. Exactly why he regarded that nuthouse behaviour as meaningful is something that I never found out, nor was I interested in finding out, nor was I interested in where he went to carry out this sacred mission, although I knew where he did not go. He did not go to the neighbourhood where the first sergeant of G Company in my infantry regiment was raised, and where Sergeant P. had learned to treat men like animals. That neighbourhood  was often called Dodge City. Nor did he accost the young lads  in  front of the Four-Thirty Club, a few blocks from where I lived, nor did he make his way to Drexel Square, because if he had that might have been the last that anyone saw of him.

Decades later a French president gets out of bed, rubs the sleep from his eyes, and announces to the world at large that the time has come to protect some civilians. He was not talking about the Ivory Coast, which once was a quasi-protectorate of France, and where the defeated president declared that he is not ready to leave office, and anyone in his country who thinks otherwise  is asking for trouble. Nor did he mean one of the ‘suburbs’ falling under his jurisdiction. I’m thinking of course of Grenoble, where I received my first professorship in energy economics, and particularly  La cité Mistral, commonly known as ‘le dépotoir de Grenoble’ (or ‘the dump of Grenoble’). I can mention though that in this regard I always cite a judgement passed  by a young lady residing in Clos-Gauthier – one of the localities ‘trés chauds’ in the charming metropolis of  Orléans – who seemed to be obsessed with finding some protection: “On ne peut pas imaginer notre vie ici…” (= “you can’t imagine our life here”…) she said.

I can imagine it Mademoiselle, because I escaped that kind of life thanks to the Cold War and the War in Korea. Something else I not only can imagine but almost guarantee is that the foolishness in Libya is happening because of the oil in that country. There might be some oil off the coast of the Cote de Ivoire, but there is none in the Mistral or Clos-Gauthier, which is why the ignorant prime minister of the UK endorsed the goofy position of Mr Sarkozy, and told his colleagues in the British government that when the people of a country want to get rid of a dictator, then good men and women will come to their aid. What about getting rid of liars, fools and hypocrites who started or approved of another war for oil. I mean Iraq, where the pretence for that destructive exercise was not protecting civilians, but a lie about weapons of mass destruction.

The common denominator where oil is concerned is that governments who correctly judge the importance of that commodity are prepared to do anything to obtain it. As Len Gould said in a comment in the forum EnergyPulse, at some point in the future voters will be fully prepared to go to war to obtain oil, however their political masters have been prepared for a long time.  One of the big mistakes in my life was to lose track of a map that came into my possession, and which showed landing zones in the Gulf for marines and paratroopers if the oil price went into orbit. According to Professor Douglas Reynolds of the University of Alaska, this option was discussed openly by Henry Kissenger, and mentioned in one of the weekly news magazine in the United States. At the same time I should perhaps mention that I eventually became convinced that the map in question was not ‘the real deal’  but was intended as a warning – something like the simulated firing exercise carried out in Germany for which I made the calculations, and had the nuclear projectile that was involved been real instead of simulated, would have removed the eastern suburbs of Nuremberg.

Someone who has a problem with my reasoning is Karel Beckman, editor of the European Energy Review. He thinks that Colonel Gaddafi has been tolerated long enough. From a scientific point of view, the European Energy Review is hardly worth holding in front of the Colonel’s nose if he desired to empty his nostrils. It is a half- baked product of bloggomania, which is A-OK with me, because the last chapter in my new energy economics textbook (2011) was able to draw on many excellent articles and comments in several net forums.  However my present grievance with the good editor Beckman is not about being denied exposure in his mail-out.  Instead, it pains me to know that the ignorance about energy matters that I have attempted to help cure is as pervasive as ever.

Mr Beckman was evidently concerned with whether the Swedes have joined in this Libyan thing. Well Karel, yes they have. The gorgeous disco and bar life in the Mediterranean, the sun, sea, beaches and wine will soon be at the disposal of the gentlemen dispatched to that wonderful part of the world.  Americans are also in action, which is to be expected, because as you and the ignoramuses who contribute to your publication probably do not know, we are the only country in the world that has participated in a war every generation since the founding of the Republic, and it is difficult for me – as smart as I am – to imagine a future generation unable to enjoy that privilege.

In an article published in the New York Times, and reproduced in The Observer (2011), Erhard Stackl described Colonel Qaddafi shaking hands and hugging such high and mighty paragons of the European political scene as Nicolas Sarkozy, Tony Blair and – with “special affection” – Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. This probably happened, although the video in which it was depicted was likely a silly  pastiche of some sort, because in the background was the tune “Save Your Kisses for Me”, performed by a former  British winner of the European Song Contest. Quite naturally though, Herr Stackl lacked the education to comprehend the quintessential logic of the Libyan ‘fling’, because since 1973, where oil is concerned, military responses or thoughts of military responses are virtually a reflex action, and so regardless of how hot and bothered the above three gentlemen were when they were clinching with the colonel, he had to be spurned.    

I have received many comments on this version of my Libyan ‘project’, which has been published in several versions in a number of ‘forums’. I have come to believe however that this issue can be greatly simplified. Can anyone really and truly be dumb enough to believe that it would have been possible to form a coalition of the gullible to go to Libya had that country not possessed the largest  reserves of crude oil in Africa (and also natural gas)?

According to Max Hastings, President Sarkozy once appeared hostile to ‘rebels’ in Tunisia and Egypt, and so his present indignation with Colonel Gaddafi impresses no one. I regard Hastings as the leading military historian in the world, but he is wrong here. Sarkozy’s posturing and courting attention has impressed all sorts of people, as is inevitably the case when they think that despite the evidence,  ‘boy-scout’ behaviour can be carried out on the cheap. 

By. Professor Ferdinand E. Banks


Banks, Ferdinand E. (2011). Energy and Economic Theory. Singapore, London and New
         York: World Scientific (forthcoming).
Stackl, Erhard (2011). ‘Lessons from a Dictator’. Published in the New York Times, and
          reproduced in The Observer (UK).

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  • Anonymous on April 09 2011 said:
    Come on professor Banks, give it a rest.Weapons of mass distruction were generally unchallenged by the free world, due in part by MR. Heuseins own comments.That aside, if Iraq was indeed all about oil, how is it that we seem to be getting no special consideration when it comes to supply and prices.Get with the program and dump the liberal jargon.
  • Anonymous on April 10 2011 said:
    Liberal Jargon. I wonder what my wife would say about that. The man who said that the war in Iraq was about oil was the former boss of the Federal Reserve System, Alan Greenspan, AND HE SHOULD KNOW. And in case you have forgotten, Mr Greenspan was NOT a liberal.But, for you information, I too believe that the war was about oil, but NOT in the 'snatch and grab' sense. It was much more sophisticated than that.As for Libya, I don't use the word dumb if I can avoid it, but I hope you dont believe that a Coalition of the Gullible could be mobilized if the issue was not oil, So you get with the program, Jay. Anyway, nice try.
  • Anonymous on April 10 2011 said:
    Dear JayIts because the idiots in DC who 'planned' (read fantasised) about PNAC (Project for a New American Century; heard of it?) and included regime change in the scenario, fondly imagined they'd waltz into Iraq, (Iran?), Syria, N.Korea etc. in a 'repeat' of Paris 1944/Berlin 1945, be greeted by the french Iraqis and the German Iranians as 'liberators', and then have all the oil in those areas given to them by populations of the grateful liberated...With the likes of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Pearl creating imaginary Hollywood scensrios to change the world with, oil fantasies were high on the 'to do list', after imsginary WMDs, (and Moslems who really wanted to be walMarted Americans...)Oil is at the root of all military foolishness right now and drives fantasies galore. And Fred Banks is (mostly)correct in his observations.
  • Anonymous on April 10 2011 said:
    Mostly correct, Philip. When it comes to oil and nuclear, mostly correct applies to someone else. I am ALWAYS correct...most of the time.The liars, fools and hypocrites got it wrong this time, completely wrong. The macroeconomic damage could turn out to be enormous. The global economy can't handle these oil prices. I believe that you are aware of that fact, but unfortunately you are one of the few people who know.

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