Vir Cantium

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Category Archives: Middle East

Why Shouldn't We Admit That The #Libya Intervention Has Something To Do With Oil?

So as the bombs fall on Gadaffi, we hear the familiar cry: “it’s all about oil”, often delivered with an Agatha Christie-esque everyone-in-the-drawing-room air of conclusive revelation.

Well, obviously oil has a fair amount to do with it, but what’s the big deal with that? Oil isn’t just about driving your car, it’s about the very infrastructure of every civilised nation, the supply lines and products, from basic foodstuffs to sophisticated medical equipment, and not forgetting the materials for which oil is the raw ingredient. When it is said that it’s about our way of life, it’s not just the fortnights in Tuscany but the very essentials – like it or not – of everyday existence. Not such a trivial reason for action after all really, is it?

More to the point, it’s certainly a justifiable reason for taking a potentially unhealthy interest in those regions of the planet where the wretched stuff comes out of the ground.

It’s not just about consumption either. The Left will generally tug at the heartstrings by ranting about “oil company profits”, profit being nothing but a dirty word of course, made filthier when married with the evil o-word. Back in the real world, profit means economic activity, tax revenues, job security and, in macroeconomic terms, international trade meaning the benefits accrue on both sides of the deal. (In any case, if oil company profits are the problem, presumably the anti-war lobby would be happy if the oil companies had been nationalised before the various middle east adventures began?)

Nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France

Nuclear power: Make fission not war

Given all this, is it unreasonable to consider it undesirable that such power should be in the hands of people who would use such power against us? Just ask Ukraine how it feels when you can’t do anything about the nutcase who controls the tap on your prime energy supplies. Oil has more than a little to do with it, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it.

It surely is no more ignoble an aim than regime change; that other silent objective whose admission could have made, for Tony Blair, the Iraq War simpler to justify (if still not successfully) than the contortions necessitated by the distracting claims of WMD.

In the case of Libya, these considerable and justifiable interests coincide with factors of urgent humanitarian need practicality and timing.

All this doesn’t mean the whole business isn’t ugly and deadly and would be better avoided if possible. Given that a substantial part of our dependence on oil relates to our energy needs, and that however well advanced green technology gets over the next few decades, there is an inescapable solution that will bring about the disengagement from the oil-driven adventures in the middle east that we all – Greens included – desire: nuclear power.

And there’s a thought: against all the wildly inflated figures of how many people die from nuclear accidents, how many lives could be saved by the wars for oil that need not be fought?


Imagine Britain is fighting a military campaign on a foreign continent, part of a wider conflict. We are operating alongside the US and other allies. We are fighting a brutal regime – brutality that is in little doubt except among, perhaps, a minority in this country, who would rather we had kept out of the whole thing.

In this campaign we and our allies have suffered losses approaching 250,000.

“Surely this can’t go on”, you might think. “We should get out of there. What’s it got to do with us anyway?” Liberal commentators might opine: “We know the other lot are nasty pieces of work, but maybe if we left them alone they wouldn’t keep picking on us.”

Well, such a reaction might be understandable, given the partial picture I have painted. What I omitted to say was that, in return for our losses of nearly 250,000, the other side lost 650,000. Granted, it would have been preferable had those 900,000 not had to die, but unfortunately Herr Hitler had other ideas, and was not going to stop picking on us, even if we hadn’t fought (and won) the North African campaign in World War 2. Had a snapshot been taken before El Alamein, when things were looking particularly grim, I’m sure it would have looked far worse.

So today we have a poll which shows that a majority of those questioned think we should get out of Afghanistan. Surprised? We have a constant diet of headlines that readily focus on the growing death toll among our own forces. Of course, we should know about these casualties and pay tribute, but without the context (e.g. the successes that the troops have had against the Taliban) it is unsurprising that the general populace feel that we be better off cutting our losses and running. There are occasional special reports from embedded journalists from the big news outlets, but inevitably it’s the regular headlines that set the scene.

This would therefore seem an appropriate moment to plug again the excellent work of Michael Yon, an independent journalist, from a military background, who has embedded himself with both his compatriot US forces and our own. Michael, as an independent, does not come from an institutionally biased media organisation, nor does his output have to pass through any agenda-driven editorial process. He tells as as he – and his camera – sees it. This is a good piece for starters (though make sure you have some time to spare – it is worth it).