Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Read "Crude World" by Peter Maass

News about the oil business, campaigns against it's foul play, news about pollution incidents, academic studies dealing with the many implications of the importance of oil and similar reports are not infrequent. Quite a few entries at this present blog deals with oil. But how about a first hand account of visits to the oil business hotspots of the world? From an acknowledged journalist with a critical approach and an open mind. About 220 pages telling the stories of the people living from or in the shadow of oil extraction... that's Crude World.

Chances are you'll gobble it up like a SUV does gasoline but there's plenty in its ten creatively titled chapters to digest more thoroughly. Scarcity, introducing with the stories of a poster-boy whistleblower from inside the number one consuming nation, USA; Plunder, about the disturbingly overlooked textbook case of Equatorial Guinea; Rot, taking us down the polluted rivers of the Niger Delta; Contamination, continues with stories from the misery of the Ecuadorean jungle; Fear, dives into the psychology of the oil business and the ignorance and innocence of its workers; Greed, is composed of a handful of stories about the callousness of the oil business even when operating inside the West; Desire, is a bit of the impossible to ignore story of the Gulf Wars; Alienation, has the perhaps most scary story of the ghost country called Saudi Arabia; Empire, is a peek below the surface of the apparently feel-good story of Russia; and Mirage ends off the book with a similarly critical look at the naive story of the Boliviarians in Venezuela.

Around the world indeed. Plenty of facts but served in dishes of true stories. Warmly recommended.

Can't help quoting a few good quotes about the US relation to the Middle East:

“Let our position be absolutely clear. An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
- US President Jimmy Carter, 1980

“Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states in the area are vital to US national security. The United States remains committed to defending its vital interests in the region, if necessary through the use of military force, against any power with interests inimical to our own.”
- US President George Bush in “National Security Directive 54”

“Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop ten percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten America's friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail.”
- Dick Cheney, August 2002

Democracy Now! interviewed Peter Maass during the BP oil "spill" in the Mexican Gulf:

Also, he's talking for hours on YouTube! About the book in general...

...about Russia...

...about Nigeria...

...about Iraq...

...and about related subjects in many more recordings.

Regarding the Iraq War... was it about oil then? To Maass it turns out it's not whether the war was about oil - it's how it was about oil.

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