11th And all That

Spinwatch on Robert Newman’s History of Oil– Firstly, he traces the history of nearly a century of Iraq policy. He tells the astonishing statistic that in the 95 years since oil was discovered in Iraq and a telegram was sent to the Glasgow office of Burma Oil saying “see psalm 104 verse 15 line 3” (“that He may bring forth out of the earth, oil, to make a cheerful countenance”) the United Kingdom has been at war with or occupying that particular country for 45 of them.

His contention that World War 1 should be taught in our schools as an invasion of Iraq seems outlandish at first but he is extremely convincing.

“I am sure many of you, like me, have never been entirely satisfied with the standard explanation we were given at secondary school for the causes and origins of WW1… the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand…I mean, NO ONE is that popular…The war breaks out, and remember it’s a war to defend plucky Belgian neutrality while the Belgians are pluckily defending Congolese rubber and ivory. The FIRST British regiment to be deployed in the First World War, the Dorset regiment, goes to….Basra, 1914, where it is joined by 51 other British divisions.

“Therefore I think we can conclude that had Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon fought by the Tigris or the Euphrates instead of the Somme we would never have heard of them.

‘They could have sent truckloads to the front, full of nothing but poets, if they had fought in Iraq during the first world war we would not know of a single man jack of them. There could even have been a First special poets battalion but had it fought in Iraq we would never have known of its existence, although…one can’t help feeling that the first special poets battalion would have been wiped out quite early on in the hostilities.”

One of the possible reasons for this was that just before WW1 the Germans were constructing the Berlin-Baghdad railway (part of which is now known as the Orient Express). This was at a time that the British and German Navies were switching from coal to oil. The British Navy at that time was probably the most powerful military force in the world so access (and denying access) to the newly discovered oil fields was vital. Also, the British government knew that people would simply not accept the Sarajevo to Basra replacement bus service.

It’s all over the web to watch if you haven’t seen it but in many versions the a/v sync is out, this one seems ok (Real Player link).

Posted in Media. Tags: , , . 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “11th And all That”

  1. Seán Says:

    Remember seeing him about four years ago and his contention that the First World War should be re-taught as the invasion of Iraq struck me sharply.

    The man has a very original take on the world.

  2. RickB Says:

    Hey Seán, he has and at times manages to be funny too which helps. Yeah I think looking at WW1 through the archduke lens misses the huge tectonic conflicts of empires that all came to a head and the emerging war for oil narrative. Especially worth remembering is the Brits bombing of Iraq which was merciless.


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