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February 10, 2006

This Beautiful Ring Makes Me All Powerful! [pause] OH PLEASE NO

Here's more interesting stuff from All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror: in 1917, Winston Churchill referred to Iran's oil as "a prize from fairyland beyond our wildest dreams."

This strikes me in two ways.

First, there's the obvious one: the hilarious/horrifying shamelessness of Churchill's slavering imperialism. (Soon after Churchill said this, according to All the Shah's Men, England "assumed control over Iran's army, treasury, transport system, and communications network. To secure their new power, they imposed martial law and began ruling by fiat.")

Second, events since 1917 make me think Churchill was RIGHTER THAN HE KNEW. That is, oil has turned out to be like "a prize from fairyland" a fairytale in which malevolent fairies give greedy villagers a gift which at first seems like a great treasure, but eventually destroys them.

Posted at February 10, 2006 03:23 PM | TrackBack

Here's something from closer to home and closer in time (end of WWII):

"...a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history"

From a State Department memo of 1945 referring to Arabian oilfields. Needless to say, any resemblance to Churchill's flowery language and imperialist conceit is purely co-incidental...

Posted by: sk at February 11, 2006 01:13 AM

Prize from fairyland...more like the diamonds of that appropriately Imperialist pulp, "King Solomon's Mines". Where the witch Gagool says:
"Here are your diamonds! Eat of them, drink of them!"

Of course, in that novel the gang arrives home fabulously rich as a result of a plot contrivance, but whether contrivances do pop up in real life...

Posted by: En Ming Hee at February 11, 2006 04:57 AM on! (I think that's the right phrase.)

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Posted by: Darryl Pearce at February 11, 2006 08:23 PM