Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Monday, August 20, 2012

Violence, repression and the perils of black gold

A few decades ago, Luis Martinez writes in this timely and troubling study, much of the Middle East regarded black gold as "the weapon of mass destruction" that was capable of overcoming the interrelated bogeymen of underdevelopment, imperialism and Zionism.

For the Algerian president Houari Boumediene it was "the people's blood", for Libya's Muammar Qaddafi the "fuel of the revolution" and for Iraq's Saddam Hussein the energy needed to become a regional power.

Just how catastrophic the political and economic leadership has been in some of the more notable oil autocracies and dictatorships of the world can be gauged by the fact that many in these countries now regard oil as a curse, not a blessing.

In Algeria, Libya and Iraq hopes for widespread prosperity have been so comprehensively shattered in the past 40 years that they now lie in tatters. In almost a decade since the fall of Hussein, the embryonic democratic leadership in Iraq has amply demonstrated that it is both venal and sectarian. It has also exhibited ominously authoritarian tendencies, including a willingness to countenance levels of violence against the opposition that, although deeply disturbing, are grimly familiar to anyone with a working knowledge of Iraq's blood-soaked history. Read More