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Web Letter

As welcoming as prospects of Iraq adding several millions of barrels per day to the world's oil flow, there are some things to think about. As another writer to this subject put it, Iraq is a natural home for Murphy's Law.

Divisive religious and political currents shall almost assure the oil wealth will be misused. Ability to apply oil income with equanimity across the country, with benefit to the general population is remote. A hopeful methodology might be speedy development of national goals--projects of size and importance, so as to grasp the collective imagination and maintain national support.

Engineering works, water and irrigation infrastructure are naturals. Added transportation features are important as the agricultural and manufacturing potential is expanded. This assumes internal prejudice and tribal jealousies can be muted for common good. Unfortunately, regional history shows inevitable rise of a strong man to direct national enterprise, which would bring Iraq and the rest of the world back to square one, this time with vast flow of petrowealth.

An overarching regional project, might be something that could allay the divisive tendencies. Homer Jastrow's 1917 book: The War and the Bagdad [sic] Railway mentions a system of railway lines for the purpose of creating an apolitical transport artery leading down from Turkey, coursing through Iraq, ultimately reaching the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Other connecting lines, were in the vicinity, some notable ones being the Gaza railway from Alexandria up to Lebanon and Jerusalem. These "pilgrim" railway links were built and destroyed circa the First World War, demolished by "Lawrence of Arabia," and rebuilt in part after the Great War.

In later years, Gaza segments of the railway, also called the "Hejaz" railway, were taken up, the Israelis using rails for roofs of bunkers along the Gaza theater. Now, reconstruction of the Gaza railway is being discussed by Tony Blair and other participants in talks attempting to enable secure transport links for the Gaza and West Bank pieces of the Palestinian "nation." Again, including the Jerusalem and Lebanon/Syrian link.

An unwritten observation of anyone looking at the plight of the Palestinians is the abject poverty they endure, with massive vanity cities jutting into the skylines of habitations of fellow Muslims. This situation is one of the wonders of modern times, but not a fact to boast about. Israel is not the only party in the game here. In fact,Israel turned over a substantial number of working greenhouse and associated irrigation systems at time of the Gaza pullback, and the improvements were instantly destroyed by the elements in Gaza interested in violence, not solutions.

The test as Iraq enters the Muslim oil brotherhood, shall be how resolute they are when it comes to assisting their Palestinian brethren. That is, resolute in looking away, to their own interest, or looking toward actually sharing some of the oil income for water and other infrastructure for fellow Muslims in Gaza, especially. To whom much is given, much is expected. Will regional peace solutions trump a massive vanity city at Babylon?

All the Muslims of the region, countries around the world in fact, can support use of a modern, demilitarized passenger and freight railway system as a regional unifier. "Pilgrim railway" corridor segments would, at particular junctions, enable establishment of a number of significant stand-alone settlements. These new settlements would allow some Lebensraum for lessening demographic pressure in the Gaza Strip.

King Abdullah of Jordan, possibly a railroad fan, has quietly made some overtures in the past regarding reconstruction of the entire railway line. Would his railway interest include enroute settlement sponsorship in Jordan?

There are some issues that look for solutions outside of normal political or even military approaches. A civil engineering transport (railway) project, upgraded with electric propulsion and that supplied by renewable energy sources, would give decades of working time to diplomats working on other facets of this regional timebomb. Iraq is not exempt from partnership in solution: historical enmity with the state of Israel, including as a combatant, now requires a positive role in this infrastructure methodology.

The website articles 374 and 1037, found in ASPO Newsletters 42 and 89, respectively, offer some policy outline. Highest and best use of renewable in transport is application to railways. As Michael Klare has said, oil is to fight over. Iraqi oil is more likely to lead to more war over time than to down-home benefits for individual Iraqi citizens. If Iraqi oil income can assist in peaceful regional solutions, face-saving participation from other nearby oilpatch nations must be forthcoming.

Christopher C. Swan writes in Electric Water of renewability as the key element in local energy and mobility solutions. Certainly this apolitical compendium should prove of interest to the Palestinian leadership, needing face-saving ways and means to move past the war toy phase of nation-building. Shall Iranian mullahs follow this wise course in time?

Gunnar Henrioulle

Tahoe Valley Lines<br />Colfax, CA

Aug 12 2009 - 2:05am

Web Letter

How do you say Murphy's Law in Iraq?

If ever a place has earned the application of Murphy's Law, it is Iraq and its people. I see no real change as it applies to Iraq, unless they create three semi-independent, autonomous, regions within the "nation" euphemistically called Iraq. Kurds in the North, Sunnis in the middle, Shiites in the South. Otherwise, they will remain under Murphy's iron grip until they do. Q.E.D.

Tom Kneeland

Newmarket, NH

Jul 15 2009 - 10:44pm