Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Michael Klare: The Road to Hell in the Middle East

Energy historian Michael Klare, whose work I follow closely, has a new essay at Tomdispatch where he analyzes the dyanmics of an imminent war in the Middle East.

Unlike the first two Gulf wars, which were all about oil (and oil pipelines), Klare argues the current tensions are organized by a battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the region and control over all the region's treasures (oil, water, etc):
Michael Klare (2018, May 13). Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Road to Hell in the Middle East. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176422/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_the_road_to_hell_in_the_middle_east/
A Third Gulf War would distinguish itself from recent Middle Eastern conflicts by the geographic span of the fighting and the number of major actors that might become involved. In all likelihood, the field of battle would stretch from the shores of the Mediterranean, where Lebanon abuts Israel, to the Strait of Hormuz, where the Persian Gulf empties into the Indian Ocean. Participants could include, on one side, Iran, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and assorted Shia militias in Iraq and Yemen; and, on the other, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). If the fighting in Syria were to get out of hand, Russian forces could even become involved. All of these forces have been equipping themselves with massive arrays of modern weaponry in recent years, ensuring that any fighting will be intense, bloody, and horrifically destructive.
The momentum for war is strong, a wave that could easily build to epic proportions.

The trigger for the wave to coming crashing down in chaos and destruction could be anything, perhaps including yesterday's wrongful, lethal assault against Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces.

Although the demonstrations were not directly linked to tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia (being triggered by Trump's decision to move the US embassy), events under such conditions of stress have a way of taking on meanings beyond their immediate significations.

I've been  privileged to know many people from the Middle East including students and faculty from Iran,  Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Iraq,  Egypt, etc. The people that I know and knew had far more in common than the differences that divide the wonderful people from these nations.

What are the conditions of possibility for this seemingly imminent war? I know the history of European and American colonialism set the stage for today's conflicts but the inexorable inevitability of the rising conflict makes me wonder who/what stands to gain?

What organizations and authorities benefit from such a war?

What strategies of government underpin this imminent war?

The logic of death and destruction is not the logic that defines the people of the Middle East so I wonder who and what are benefiting from policies that could destroy the region and perhaps us all?

Here is a list of 10 companies profiting from war https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/20-companies-profiting-the-most-from-war/ar-AAmTAzm

Defense contractors in the US are benefiting directly from Trump's heedless pursuit of war in the Middle East (see http://www.businessinsider.com/lockheed-martin-stock-price-profits-forecast-defense-spending-2018-1).

Who and what else stand to gain?

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