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The Great War of 2007: A Retrospective

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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

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  • sfc ski

    The article was pretty good, and history has proven that failure to act often leads to greater tragedy.

  • ZZ,

    I return to my thesis that I have made before. If you want to be a great power, you have to act like a great power. That, at times, means being terribly brutal. You and others have been ringing the “Iran bell” for quite some time – not without cause. On Blog Critics, I have seen at least 4 or 5 pieces devoted to the sayings of the great Persian saviour in Teheran and to the threat of a Persian bomb. Finally people are recognizing that you can’t hide the problem behind the Persian rug hanging on the wall.


    Your country is stuck in a war in Iraq when it should be tightening the straps around the testicles of the Wahhabi thugs in Riyadh. So far as spreading Islamic terrorism, that is the address to call on. Everybody else is getting his marching orders from there.

    The way to deal with the problem is to nuke Riyadh. Leave it as a nuclear pit for the Russians, the Persians and the rest of the world to see.

    It’s one hell of a message, ZZ. After the handwringers, moralizers and other crapdoodles of the world have their initial say, the other gangsters – the EU, the Russians, the other Arabs AND the Persians will get the message sent when the Yanks use the ultimate (human) weapon – like they have done twice before.

    Back off or die.

  • sfc ski

    “If you want to be a great power, you have to act like a great power. That, at times, means being terribly brutal.” Interesting idea.

  • Ruvy…. I often wonder how much of what is happening now in the Middle East is almost a result of a self fullfiling prophecy. The world knows deep down it needs to take action, and SHOULD HAVE taken action a whole lot sooner to attack and preempt the issue of Islamic extremism head on.

    Ironically it almost seems that the very ideals and underpinnings of democracy, and it’s honerable tolerance of diversity, creates a vulnerability that is being exploited by Wahhabism.

    As you say, the Saudi balls not only need to be tightened, they need to be cut off. Fear over the oil is an illusion. Moderate political leaders in the region who have no courage lest they be cast in the light of the “great Satan GWB” is the real fear. Most want clear evidence before taking risk. Lack of courage to take action lest they loose their politcal dominance within their own countries. The problem is lack of COURAGE and LEADERSHIP in our leaders everwhere to tighten the noose where it needs to be tightened in hte face of un popular sentiment. Perhaps the Iranian crisis will bring out that courage and sorely needed leadership not only in BOTH parties in the U.S. but in all nations including Israel.

  • ZZ, what is going on in the Middle East is not self-fulfilling prophecy. It is Biblical prophecy. If you are lucky, you will live to see the day when “the tribes fo Kedar” (the Arabs) will bring bulls to sacrifice in Jerusalem – in other eords, they will have reconciled themselves to being B’nei Noah and will recognize the Torah as the true source of law. But before they do, “Damascus will be a heap”.

  • The New Testament, Apocalypse is not that far off the mark either. That same religious thought went through my mind as well when the prophecy word popped into my head when typing my response to you. How unsettling is that?

  • Roberto

    The problem is there is no way to diffuse the situation now. A nuclear standoff ending peacefully between the worlds two theocracies (Israel and Iran) is very unlikely to end in peace.

    It is undisputable that the intention of harming israel exists. The weapons do not yet exist (in the hands of Iran), but they are being produced. Israel knows this, US knows this and UK knows this.

    The decision will be, act now with conventional weapons and relatively limited death and destruction or be driven to a scenario that results in tens of millions of deaths?

    I was recently listening to Henry Kissinger (I know not liked everywhere, but brilliant) at my University, he said that Iran with Nuclear Weapons was the greatest threat the world could concievably get. I agree. very scary.