Author: U.S. will stay in Iraq until oil addiction ends

ADRIAN -- Until the West frees itself of its dependency on oil, a presence in the Middle East will continue, the author of a book on Iraq's history said Wednesday.

Edwin Black, who spoke at Dawson Auditorium at Adrian College, is promoting his new book, "Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit and Conflict."

When asked if the U.S. can succeed in Iraq, he said, "The short answer is 'No.' "

Author Edwin Black shown standing behind a podium marked with the Adrian College seal, dressed in black with a light tie, caught in a candid image, fingers spread and hands apart as if holding an invisible shoulder width water mellon.
Author Edwin Black addresses Adrian College faculty and students as well as community members on Wednesday at Dawson Auditorium about his new book, "Banking on Baghdad." -- Telegram photo by Sandy Miller

Black said Iraq has only two attractions to the West: geography and geology.

"It is a true, tragic story of what they have inflicted or have had inflicted upon them," he told the audience. "Nothing has changed in the violence in that land in the last 7,000 years."

His comments summarized contents of the book, tracing the region's history from the tribal regions up through the geopolitical creation of the Middle East, and on to today, as the United States struggles to help bring democracy to a carved-out country that calls Americans infidels.

Black's research concludes that the people of Iraq don't want America's form of government.

"We should understand that the people of Iraq don't need democracy," he said.

"If they wanted it, they don't need a permission slip from the U.S. They could bring it themselves. We went into their face to impose ourselves (on them)."

Because of our growing dependence on the oil, the country of Iraq was created by western interests after World War I by combining three tribal regions, Black said. Petroleum had not even been detected in the region until the mid-19th century, even then, the European powers set up the situation as it is now, and it will not stabilize until we leave, he added.

"We will get out in five to 10 years, once we get off the oil," he commented. "We are running out of oil. Oil is not replenishable. When the world no longer has the prize of oil to fight over, the people in the Middle East will be able to solve their problems."

Black pinpointed the date when Islamic Jihad began. It was July 24, 1920, when the League of Nations issued its decree following months of backstabbing negotiations.

"Britain would get Iraq and Palestine, the Jewish people would get their homeland, the French would get Syria, and the Arabs got zip," he said.

He explained that the Arab tribes had been led to believe that if they threw off the yoke of the Ottoman Empire, they would have a place at the peace table next to Britain and France. Instead, Black said, everybody was double dealing.

Under the League of Nations ruling, Britain would get the oil fields in Iraq and a pipeline through Palestine. France would get a pipeline through Syria.

"The Arabs call that day 'The Year of the Catastrophe,' the year the Arabs lost everything," he said. "They wanted national structure. They didn't want Palestine, but would welcome a Zionist state. They didn't want Iraq. They wanted Syria."

Black noted that the major oil companies already have started their work on developing alternative energy sources. But it remains to be seen how soon they will be put into practical use.

"The question is, will we be dragged kicking and screaming toward this end?" he said. "It will need a complete leapfrog into alternative, clean and efficient energy sources."

"Banking on Baghdad" is available online at Black has also written two other books, "IBM and the Holocaust," which detailed that company's dealings with the Nazis, and "War Against the Weak," which looks at philanthropy and the way some treat those who need help.

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