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).