An Oily Deal With the Devil
an essay by Joe Boudreault
When the last Industrial Revolution rumbled across Western Europe and England two centuries ago, the fuel that lit the economy back then was coal. Nations like France, Germany and Great Britain had large reserves of coal at home and they spared no efforts to mine them and exploit them to the fullest in order to grow as manufacturing giants. Healthy competition resulted and many of the early-twentieth century advancements owe their might to the relative peace and security of these home-based resources. England did not have to exploit Germany or Poland for their coal fields or water, and the combined ingenuity of these countries provided a healthier rise in wealth from factories and mills because they didn’t for the most part have to war with each for extra resources. But with the advent of new industry worldwide in the 20th century, a few shifts in the displacement of industries vs base resources were a cause for new kinds of international trade and development. Early in this century, petroleum fuels fast replaced coal and wood as the chief firepower behind industry, transportation and lifestyles. The explosion of the automobile industry alone crated a huge demand for fuels, a demand that could not possibly be met in the traditional ways.
At first, the auto empire, which sent forth its loudest economic sound waves in North America, was supported domestically and there was no great concern about looking elsewhere for the magic of gasoline. But in the post-WW2 years, this thirst became insatiable and the USA in particular began looking overseas for more petroleum. It is important to remember that the technology for finding and developing oil fields was for the most part a North American technology, springing out of the Oklahoma, Texas and Alberta frontiers. So it was that oil-hungry industries sent their prospectors out into the world shopping for cheap fuel deposits.
The economy of Europe was booming as well and places like Germany, France and England were just as thirsty for petroleum. So was Russia but they were locked up in the Soviet block and communism had produced isolationism, Russia would soon discover its own huge gas deposits, but the Europeans and Americans were cruising for foreign oil fields even during WW2. Large oil deposits were basically non-existent in Europe at that time, so the most likely scenario was the Persian Gulf region. Geologists had been prodding around there for a few decades and had seen promising signs.
In the year 1931, American businesman Charles Crane had managed to persuade Abdul Aziz, the ruling sheik of the new kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to let him sent a geologist to poke around in their sand dunes. The Saudis were suspicious of westerners but they were desperately cash-strapped and agreed to let the foreigners look around. Crane, who had already made millions with bathroom fixtures, sent Karl Twitchell along. Aziz was hedging his bets and invited interest from other countries. The British sent Lloyd Hamilton to the deserts. The Russians sent a representative and $30,000 worth of Russian oil to impress the Saudi king. Twitchell found promising signs of oil not far inland from the coast near Bahrain, where oil had been discovered. As further inducement, the Americans promised a very profitable deal with royalties on anything found. It turned out to be the deal of the century for both countries. Standard Oil of California sent along Frank Holmes. By late 1932, the promising signs of oil got better, and by 1939, the famous Dammam Dome began producing the first of the equally famous Saudi oil. It certainly helped that the Standard Oil accepted a deal to pay £50,000 just for exploration rights.
In the early 1940s, drilling rigs in the eastern deserts began hitting gushers that made Texas look like a child’s picnic. Top grade crude oil spurted into the Arabian skies in amounts that made geologists everywhere drool. The deposits proved to be the richest in the world, about a quarter of all known reserves. And they were extremely easy to mine, refine, and export. America had a foreign fuel tap beyond its wildest dreams and Abdul Aziz had a cash cow (or cask camel) beyond his most optimistic expectations. Aramco, the Arabian American Oil Company was formed, and soon tanker ships were lining up in the Persian Gulf. To further warm relations, Franklin Roosevelt invited Aziz to camp out on the deck of the USS Quincy and have a family chat. That was in February 1945, and the Americans needed a lot of oil to finish a nasty world war.
While America had enough domestic petroleum from its own fields to supply its market at home for decades to come, a good business tycoon knows how to hedge his bets and make good on even better deals elsewhere. Arabian crude, though quite a distance away, was far cheaper and plentiful – why burn the home fuel when the foreign fuel is better? Oil went for less than $2 a barrel in 1960 and new monsters prowled the seas between the Mid-east and America. And in less than one generation, the Saudi royal family blossomed into thousands of members, and every one of them multi-millionaires. But this fantastic deal was to have its own gigantic long-term headaches.
The enormous distance between the Persian Gulf and America was more than the geographic distance across seas and oceans. Both America and Saudi Arabia were about as different as two countries could be, and each knew very little about the other. In fact, they had home-grown myths about each other which have not been clarified to a very great extent even to this day. One was an agrarian and modern industrialist nation with a strong Christian background; the other was a nomadic desert society with a strong Islamic background. If ever the twain should meet, it would be over the sale of oil. And oh did the Saudis sell! Of course, there were objections to this kind of foreign deal right from the start in the homeland of Islam, from radical Muslims who saw no need to empower the Crusader west with economic lubrication which was derived from a useless liquid buried beneath the sacred sands of the Prophet’s homeland. But the allure of mega-wealth overcame, for a time, the protests from 7th century-minded imams and fanatics. And those automobiles and homes in the Christian west could drink up Arabian petroleum just as easily as they could slurp their own crude, and at a better price.
Cultures as diverse as they two are would have equally diverse politics and world views, resulting in very different priorities on the both the world stage and the home front. With the unprecedented oil boom in its back yard, Saudi Arabia became a fast learner about the power of megabucks. They were now a nation to contend with in the developed world, and with that kind of influence, they often held the upper hand when it came to making deals with the infidel West. Also in this region, the other Islamic nations of Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq and Qatar were suddenly in a league of billionaires, because the magical oil and gas was under all those other sand dunes as well. Now stupendous wealth for the Arab League was getting ready for a symbolic showdown with the stupendous thirst of the West, and the main catalyst was the tint nation of Israel.
Perhaps it is by the hand of God that Israel was to find itself surrounded by a host of hostile nations with new-found wealth and hence new-found animosity. It is no secret that the Arab nations hate the existence of a Jewish nation in their midst. It is also no secret that the world’s most powerful nation, the USA, is one of the few friends and the closest friend that Israel has. So it is that this very odd mixture of politics and cultures and economics was to make for the weirdest and most volatile situations seen anywhere during the past century. Front and foremost was the fact that America had made its deal with the devil of Arabia but was also dealing every kind of aid to the angels of the Jewish state, mostly out of sympathy for support of the familiar flavor of democracy that lived there.
In regards to the Mid-East, the British were also in for a penny and in for a pound, but they didn’t have the same thirst for oil because they didn’t have the enormous industrial economy which the USA was trying to maintain. However, the British were and still are close allies with America and they share the same backgrounds and world view. While the British let the Jews go their own way in 1948, the Americans picked up the pieces and took Israel hand-in-hand and have force-fed them ever since on western values and technology. The modern state of Israel exists in large part because of the efforts of these two leading nations from the West, and the Arabs know this. While the Saudis were quick to gobble up western money for oil, and the rest of the Arab league followed suit, they held on to ancient resentments against the west in general. The anti-Crusader mentality has never gone away, and in fact is being revived via the fanatical and militant wings of Islam everywhere.
It is quite easy to point fingers at western greed for mid-eastern oil and say it is the root of all of these tensions and internecine wars, but it is not that simple. Excessively cheap materials and the money it generates is a root of many kinds of evil, but evil springs not from a particular culture or religion but from the heart and mind of every man and woman. So there is some blame to be placed on every side of this international formula. Arrogant and one-sided business policies (if you so chose to believe that they actually exist in the first place) which may be implemented by greedy western concerns against gullible eastern sheikdoms are perhaps a reason for animosities between the G-8 quarter and the general Arab quarter of our planet. Surely there is mud on the hands and deceit in the heart on both sides. There always is when there are gadzillions of dollars on the table. Power corrupts, but so does a blatantly erroneous theology. That’s where the modern war on terrorism enters in, and it involves all of the factors of world economy and trade and all of the differences between the East and the West as we now know them to be.
Islamic fundamentalism has never had much to do with modern contrivances of civilization, at least not until this recent generation. The creeds of the Muslim world do not preach very much on material wealth, and while this has its honorable attributes, it also has some detrimental qualities. Not all material wealth or conveniences are evil or worthless, in spite of what some sheikhs say, and they usually say it from some pretty elaborate and cozy palaces. Then again, the creeds of fundamental Christianity also do not emphasize material wealth. But the fanatics on both sides are the trouble-makers, and the policies that drag us all down into those internecine wars are the policies made in the heavens and hells of both sides and we are all expected to pay the respective prices. The materialistic West wants their baubles and the stone-age East (ie fanatical Islam) wants their harems in their tents, so to speak. Muhammad would never have shaken the hand of Jesus. I am slightly exaggerating to make a point here, and if I offend, I offend both sides. When the majority moderates get caught in the middle, we end up with Islamic militancy doing jihad with Judeo-Christian crusaders. Or, to put it more bluntly, we have Usama bin Laden gunning for Bush and Blair, and maybe Harper. It is almost impossible to stop this slaughter. It is really a case of the irresistible force (western Christianity) meeting the immovable object (fundamental Islam), and God only knows what the end will be. I mean, God only knows, and He has prophesied such an end ages ago.
For the moment, let’s go back to that little nation at the center of it all, Israel. It is my strong conviction that those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed, and vice versa. This is a Biblical principal beyond dispute, and it has been proven throughout history. It also follows that if you bless your friends, you earn for your reward the same enemies as they have. Now think: Israel, the USA, and the Arab quarter. The USA carries out a solid friendship with the Israelis and a very shaky friendship with just a few of the Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Now if they please the Saudis they get cheap oil, and if they please the Israelis they get the chance to promote their world view (ie democracy) in the region. The Arabs don’t want their world view but they want their petro-dollars; the Israelis want their support so they can keep the Arabs off their backs. And it so happens that the Israelis believe in the same views as do the Americans, but must live among the Arabs. The predicament for the oil-hungry West immediately presents itself: ask the Arabs for cheap oil while you pat the Israelis on the back and cheer them. As soon as those encouraging moves toward the Israelis are picked up in the Arab quarter, the price of that oil takes on a whole new meaning.
As I have written elsewhere, the Arabs have been trying to destroy the Jewish nation from day one, and it is still their intention. It is part of the constitution or charter of almost every Muslim organization. I believe God’s hand is still resting favorably on the Israelis because every time the Arabs attacked the Jews, the attacks failed miserably. While we Christians see this as miracles, the world sees it as a series of flukes, and so the Arabs keep on trying. When one of their major tries failed again in 1973, they gave world oil its whole new meaning. The West was blackmailed into he price increases. Perhaps it was a good thing – it made the west pull up their bootstraps and look elsewhere and do more fruitful energy things. But the addiction of megabuck petrodollars had the Arabs on a seesaw of international policy-making. We paid a price, but we could still get the oil fairly cheaply. And the west (at least North America) still backed Israel.
The pattern since that famous oil embargo (which also started the OPEC cartel) has been that the Americans walk gently in the Mid-East even though they carry the big stick. If they buy the oil and sell some nice goodies in return, the Saudi seesaw tips in their direction. If they pat the Israelis on the back too hard, the seesaw tips the other way. It may well be true that the Saudis themselves are moderate enough to let things continue like this, but not all Saudis are moderates, nor are all Arabs. If ever those fanatic militants get their fingers around the reins of power, the world would change beyond anything the west could tolerate, and both sides know it. In his book **, author ** introduces a very scary scenario about what would happen if even one major Saudi oil field was taken over by terrorists. In the case of a shut-down or the destruction of an oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia, the output of world oil production would feel the pinch. And even a ten percent reduction is enough to impact the economy of the world. Consider if the Saudi government fell in a coup: oil production in the world’s largest fields would be brought to a halt and the world’s economy would be held to ransom. Drastic increases in world oil prices is all that is needed to drastically increase the costs of almost all the goods the world buys. Worldwide inflation on an unprecedented scale would result. This may very well happen yet. The western powers are poorly prepared to supply their own demands at current consumption levels if that supply is from domestic sources or other friendly sources. The fanatical elements of Islam would plunge the world back into the tenth century and they know it, and this is the way it can be done.
Considering what the stakes are for the world’s economy, is it any wonder that wars are plotted and given serious consideration over Big Oil? Bin Laden, for example, makes no bones over the fact that he and his many followers and imitators are quite willing to pay this price for instituting their devilish world view upon the rest of us. If you want to live in the Stone Age, vote for bin Laden. If not, try voting for the people who, like those freedom fighters in Iraq, are struggling to establish a modicum of democratic sensibilities in the region so that we don’t have to shed blood for oil or anything else. Every time I hear Mid-East news stories about controversial foreign policy behavior from the USA, I can’t help but think about that delicate seesaw with the Arabs.
I must presume that God has arranged all of this in preparation for the end times. It sounds like doom and gloom because it is the prelude to doom and gloom. If the Muslims would leave the Jews alone and truly try to understand the real Christians of the world, a lot more peace would prevail. There is an Armageddon coming and the Bible prophecy that points at it tells about many armies marching against Israel and it even includes a two hundred million-man army from the East. All for the sake of crushing little Israel and stealing her wealth. As if history has not stolen enough wealth and lives from the Jews already. However, in this coming event, Israel prevails, because in His promises to the Jews, God always prevails too.
To conclude by saying that a deal with the Devil for oil, or for anything else, is the way things have to be, is not looking at all the possibilities. The Devil is defeated only when he is ignored and rejected. If Mid-East oil becomes too expensive, for whatever reason and whatever factor, there should be alternatives for liquid energy. In a recent G-8 summit meeting, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reminded other European leaders, and the Russian leader, that Canada can provide an even larger supply of crude oil than the Arabs, at current world prices – and from a much more stable political environment. This should take the sting out of the American deal with the Saudi kingpins.