Oil is a filthy vicious sludge. War is a filthy vicious game with deadly consequences. And oil doesn’t make sense like war doesn’t make sense, writes Giovanni Barbieri.
Oil and war seem to go together like those two guys you know who are best friends and who never grew up or left hometown. They’re not really anyone’s favorite guys and they don’t have any real friends, just a bunch of users. They’ve been together long past the time when they should have gone their separate ways and made something of themselves besides the same old same old, which in the case of oil and war is death, destruction and cynicism.
But maybe I’m being too harsh. Oil isn’t all bad. After all, look at all that we’ve accomplished as a country and in the world. Look at how much we’ve built, how far we can travel, not to mention the ironic beauty of western decadence that’s been fueled by our insatiable desire for more of everything, or as John Stewart put it last week on his hilarious return to the Daily Show, he was never so happy to see a dildo store next to a school after his months long hiatus in the Middle East.
So what if the talk of war means hedge funds and “money managers” are putting “bullish bets on Brent” last week—and so what if in all this talk of war bets on Brent Crude, a sweet North Sea oil, are expected to rise and already reached their “highest in more than two years, according to Bloomberg News. Money managers are making those bets on oil with fortunes that make the Powerball seem small. So what.
The bottom line on oil is that it’s a filthy vicious sludge that we pump, suck or blow our way into getting any way we can from every deep dirty hole we can drill and funnily enough it’s described in terms of lightness and sweetness, as if it were fruit punch or a very nice wine. It doesn’t make sense like war doesn’t make sense but it makes an awful lot of money.
Indeed. Maybe that’s all last week’s news but anyone who ever enjoyed playing a team sport, scoring a winning goal, or just playing a competitive game, knows the thrill you get when you win. Politics is the just a game with a lot more deadly consequences. For team USA, oil has been a factor in strategy, a vital national interest and an addiction that we’re trying to break free from and yet it seemed just last week that it was a foregone conclusion that we’d be in a battle with another Middle East dictator accused of gassing his own people by now. But what’s this? Dogged by the fans at home and not playing well overseas, team USA changes up its game plan.
Rather than giving Syria a few good hard bombings and sending its dictator to hide in a dusty hole until he’s flushed out by angry rebels bent on putting his humiliation on YouTube, maybe we’re watching what might be the last few months of a dictator’s life before an undeserved comfortable exile.
Is Syria going to be a negotiated surrender that gives Assad a way to survive—and maybe even come back and stand for election in a few years in a “New Syria” when the people start to long for the “good old days,” forgetting the fear of living with the threat of the secret police keeping everyone on their best behavior, or else?
Whatever happens and whatever the justification or excuse or reason if we do go to war in the end, like always, the end of war comes down to politics and the art of compromise and people using their indoor voices and their words instead of lashing out and hitting each other with bombs or gas like a sovereign versions of out of control toddlers.
No matter what people have been fighting for in any age, land, oil, gold, or the hearts and minds of the people still alive after they’ve been bombed, we reach a point where we settle our differences with words. And this time, it seems a little bit like maybe we won’t have the President making a late night appearance on TV explaining all the reasons for why we’re going to war once again and all those bets on Brent might just turn out to be losers. What a shame.
Photo: paddling / flickr. Caption on photo: My Dad served in the Pacific on an S class submarine, Sleuth. He only had a few photos and this he said was one of 600 ton oil tanker burning. This brought aircraft to the scene. Twelve 4 inch shells caused this. 1944/45