A retrospective of the Great War of 2007-2011, and how it might have been avoided has been written by one Niall Ferguson, a Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. His quasi-fictional historical accounting speaks to some of the errors made in the world’s failure to “pre-empt” Iran’s nuclear ambitions in 1979. He postulates that historical events since then have led to an effort to rectify that mistake, albeit in hindsight. He writes in a narrative fashion, and as an historian, almost as he might be speaking to students of World History at Harvard in the not so distant future. Quite interesting – and unsettling.
Here is an excerpt from Prof. Ferguson’s interesting piece:
With every passing year after the turn of the century, the instability of the Gulf region grew. By the beginning of 2006, nearly all the combustible ingredients for a conflict – far bigger in its scale and scope than the wars of 1991 or 2003 – were in place.
The first underlying cause of the war was the increase in the region’s relative importance as a source of petroleum. On the one hand, the rest of the world’s oil reserves were being rapidly exhausted. On the other, the breakneck growth of the Asian economies had caused a huge surge in global demand for energy. It is hard to believe today, but for most of the 1990s the price of oil had averaged less than $20 a barrel.
A second precondition of war was demographic. While European fertility had fallen below the natural replacement rate in the 1970s, the decline in the Islamic world had been much slower. By the late 1990s the fertility rate in the eight Muslim countries to the south and east of the European Union was two and half times higher than the European figure…
This tendency was especially pronounced in Iran, where the social conservatism of the 1979 Revolution – which had lowered the age of marriage and prohibited contraception – combined with the high mortality of the Iran-Iraq War and the subsequent baby boom to produce, by the first decade of the new century, a quite extraordinary surplus of young men. More than two fifths of the population of Iran in 1995 had been aged 14 or younger. This was the generation that was ready to fight in 2007.
He goes on further to make an unsettling comparison from the past pointing to some of the recent cultural changes in Europe and the amount of leadership change in the Middle Eastern region.
Prof. Ferguson weaves together a very thought provoking piece and puts forth a premise that pre-emptive action may indeed have been a policy that missed it’s mark by 25 years. It is an interesting read, and touches upon the shifting geo-politcal balances in a world which remains a slave to massive energy consumption.
However I don’t believe that all of history is destined to repeat itself. For one thing the events leading up to WW II saw the world coming out of a major economic depression. That is not the case today. In fact one might argue the opposite. With oil as a fungible commodity, Iran only hurts itself by cutting back its production as the laws of supply and demand will shift world dollars to other oil producing economies, ironically to the detriment of Iran. In addition the Iranian factor is already beginning to be priced into crude prices. For Iran’s threat to have teeth, it would have to convince at least one other major oil producing nation to cut back supply or at least maintain their present output. Not likely when oil prices rise, and don’t forget the Iraqi factor. Iran will try and play Asia against the west knowing how dependent they are for their oil directly, especially China. What the world might actually experiance is an unravelling of OPEC as we know it, as greed sets in. In the end the laws of supply and demand may prove stronger than Iran’s desire to use oil as a “weapon”.
The real weapon of course is the use of a nuclear device against a neighbor, or providing such capability to a extremist organization in the name of Islam. (Don’t rule out the “dirty bomb” either, where the radiation is spread with conventional explosives and human life is taken by exposure to the enriched uranium or plutonium radiation. Not as dramatic but just as deadly in a smaller physical area with the calculated terror factor to go along with the act.) There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Iran must be kept under the eye of a watchdog organization at all times such as the IAEA and the Security Council nations. Sanctions are necessary to indicate that the world won’t be hijacked by one nation. For the sanctions to work, all nations must participate however inspections of their program will be mandatory. We’ll find out what John Bolton is made of very soon and whether or not the U.N. can get it right this time.
Iran was always the greater threat in the region, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. After reading Prof. Ferguson’s piece, ask yourself what you think of his premise. Do you see something deeper in this “quasi-historical”, thought provoking accounting of fictional history? It’s worth the read.
ZZ Bachman / ZardozZ News & Satire Portal