Book Jacket


rank 5917
word count 33400
date submitted 16.06.2008
date updated 23.12.2012
genres: Non-fiction, History, Harper True L...
classification: universal


Michael Dickinson

Articles on politics and religion published in 'America's Best Political Newsletter, COUNTERPUNCH.'


Armaggedon a little angry...

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political protest, religious hypocricy, rethink

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Weekend Edition
June 4 / 5, 2005

Blood, Oil and Baku

Roll Out the Barrel


Last week saw the official opening ceremony of the Azeri section of a 1,100 mile pipeline which will soon carry 1 million barrels of oil a day for the next forty years from the terminal on the Caspian Sea near Baku in Azerbaijan, through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

As well as the presidents of Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan - the latter of whom opened the tap to allow the first oil to flow into his country,s section of the pipeline the ceremony was attended by Lord Browne, head of British Petroleum, the largest shareholder in the project consortium, (which also includes the US firms Unocal and ConocoPhillips), and the US energy secretary, Samuel Bodnam, who read a statement from George W Bush which said the BTC pipeline could "help generate balanced economic growth, and provide a foundation for a prosperous and just society that advances the cause of freedom."

Although invited, President Vladimir Putin's representative for international energy cooperation failed to turn up for the ceremony. Russian officials had tried to persuade Azerbaijan not to sign on to the project. Not surprising, as the $4 billion pipeline was masterminded over 10 years ago with the help of a United States that wanted to break Russia,s export monopoly on oil pumped in the land-locked Caspian Sea.

Estimates put reserves in the region at 33bn barrels, compared with around 715bn barrels in the Persian Gulf. Caspian production amounts to around 2m barrels a day - roughly the same as Iraq.

The first cargo is expected to be loaded at Ceyhan in the latter part of the year - as it will take BP several months to fill the pipeline before commercial shipments can begin. In order to fill the pipeline 10 million barrels of oil will be needed. The project capacity of the pipeline amounts to 50 million tons of oil annually.

Environmental and human rights groups have criticised the scheme. The Kurdish Human Rights Project and Friends of the Earth, amongst others, are particularly critical of Botas, the nationalised Turkish pipeline company, which is carrying out the construction work in Turkey.

Botas has been accused of offering far less compensation to landowners than promised, and NGOs say there have been cases of landowners being threatened for refusing to accept offers of compensation. They also allege that Ferhat Kaya, a human rights activist, was beaten up and tortured last year as a direct result of his work on cases of abuses related to land expropriation in Turkey.

The pipeline will cause major pollution. Unlocking these vast oil reserves will directly contradict climate change commitments. The burning of these reserves will have a catastrophic impact on the earth,s climate for centuries. It will create more pollution each year than every power station in the UK, or the combined effect of every car, truck, bus and train in the UK, or twice as much as heating every house in the UK.

The pipeline route runs through the most serious earthquake zone in Turkey. The pipeline itself and the transport to markets will lead to greater risks of oil spills. Not to mention the risk of the pipeline becoming a target for guerrilla bombing campaigns.

To guard against threats, the United States has spent $64-million to train Georgian troops in antiterrorism tactics. American military officials have said the United States will spend an additional $100-million to train and equip the Caspian Guard, a network of special operations and police units that will protect oil facilities and key assets in the region, the Wall Street Journal reported in April.

Some engineers who worked on the project claim there were insufficient checks on the risk of the pipe buckling in earthquake zones. Another concern cited by the Baku Ceyhan Campaign, a group opposing the pipeline, is the effectiveness of the coating designed to protect the pipe from corrosion. Any leakage in Georgia could affect the mineral water aquifer at Borjorni national park. Borjorni water is a major Georgian export.

The pipeline passes through 8 different conflict zones. BP,s pipeline in Colombia has exacerbated conflict in the region, with BP funding paramilitaries to silence its critics, including its own workers, to keep the oil flowing.

In terms of human rights, we only have to look at BP's track record (and that of any other oil company such as Shell in Ogoniland, Nigeria) to know what this pipeline will mean for the people on the ground. The area around the pipeline will be run under special 'BP law'. In other places such as Nigeria and Colombia, this has meant killings and disappearances by brutal paramilitaries, paid for by host countries and by us, through public money and BP tax dodges and corruption.

It is often argued that projects like these will benefit the host governments and affected communities financially. The records show this is rarely the case. BP pays notoriously low taxes. It paid almost no tax on its North Sea pipeline system. Even if local people were employed by the consortium for the lifetime of the project, the long term consequences are the loss of local land, skills and health. In fact the only long term jobs to be created by the project are 350 in Turkey, 250 in Azerbaijan and 250 in Georgia.

A gas pipeline is also under construction, following the same route.

The Bush administration first recognized the pipeline's potential in May 2001, when an energy policy review spearheaded by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, said the Kashagan oilfield in Kazakhstan was capable of exporting 2.6m barrels a day if pipelines like the BTC were operational.

During World War 2 Hitler was convinced that if he could take oil-rich Baku, he would win world domination. It seems that certain power-crazed maniacs have the same idea today




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Seringapatam wrote 587 days ago

Yes for what I read, I enjoyed. Very graphic and harsh in some parts. I wish you luck with this int he future. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R)

EltopiaAuthor wrote 1267 days ago


Well, I had read a little of this some months back and finally got around to revisiting the book. (I just read through Chapter 10.)

While I may not like everything said, and I think the book would be more effective without some of the vulgar language, it is well worth reading. As they say, "If the shoe fits ..."

Gutter talk: Even though I understand and agree that some of the gutter talk is justifiable, I would argue that it is not as effective as sticking to more neutral language would be.

The facts as detailed here are powerful enough to stand on their own two feet.

At any rate, I think every Christian should read this book. The point, for me, is not that every Christian should agree with or identify with every single statement. For me the point is to put the shoe on the other foot and see how our own interpretation of the gospel may look to certain victims of our own bad religion. Perhaps we could do a better job of being Christian by taking more of this to heart.


Michael Dickinson wrote 1326 days ago

All of these articles, most of them composed in a few heated hours, were published online by the famous political newsletter COUNTERPUNCH on the same day as I delivered them. I know there are errors and unrefinements, but what the fuck?, the surge of pleasure I felt as I saw each one included in Counterpunch's choices of the day was orgasmic each time and lasted longer.

As for language, the Vatican's response to the blatently honest question "How about a fuck?" (rarely stated directly), that unwed protected sexual intercourse is a sin for which you deserve to be roasted in Hell...Well...

Your lack of discipline in the use of street language is understandable, but it does detract from the impact of your writing; the graphic language (such as "how about a fuck) draws attention to itself and distrats from the message itself. If you only want to "preach to the choir" then fine. But if you want to cause thinking men and women to pause for thought, you need ot do a careful re-reading and editing for such irregularities, and to correct a few awkward constructions, sentences that have the feeling that they were literally "thrown" onto the page in the excitement of the "kill" so to speak. And that's fine for a draft, but you now need to rework this and refine it a bit if you want to be taken seriously as an author.


EltopiaAuthor wrote 1327 days ago

Your lack of discipline in the use of street language is understandable, but it does detract from the impact of your writing; the graphic language (such as "how about a fuck) draws attention to itself and distrats from the message itself. If you only want to "preach to the choir" then fine. But if you want to cause thinking men and women to pause for thought, you need ot do a careful re-reading and editing for such irregularities, and to correct a few awkward constructions, sentences that have the feeling that they were literally "thrown" onto the page in the excitement of the "kill" so to speak. And that's fine for a draft, but you now need to rework this and refine it a bit if you want to be taken seriously as an author.


Robert Craven wrote 1396 days ago

Formidable prose & succinct arguments - It's clear that you write in anger at the way the middle east is just one big checkerboard at the mercy of one superpower and it's cats paw in the region.

These essays could be embellished with perhaps personal statements or sound bites with representatives as you have shades of old-style Gonzo Journalism ala Hunter S Thompson.

Backed because what your write is real



Jupiter Echoes wrote 1690 days ago

Ok.... a bit Noam Chomsky but more accessible.
The more i read... the conspiracy theories aobut Israel just become more believable. Their lobbying power not only in the US but also the UK is downright scary.
These essays surely will be of interest to readers with a soicial consciousence, but as always, i approach such works not as true, but subjective....
However, how close i feel these perceptions are to actual reality remains a private matter.

Really enjoyed the essays i read, finding them thought provoking.
Very good.


mikegilli wrote 1693 days ago

Brilliant essays..I hadnt read all of them.
Where you triumph is in your unique world view....
the humble engaging personal anecdote that
links us into already fascinating subject matter.
If only there were more brave people like you, willing to risk rejection
or violence in provoking a creative response.
All the best, shelved, mikey The Free

I read this on the Blog...10 times better..Heres the link

David Black wrote 2109 days ago

Maybe it's Diversion Tactic #18: Life is shit, you're shit, I'm shit; why bother arguing about anything?

Michael Dickinson wrote 2110 days ago

Is that a description of your self?

Hope wrote 2110 days ago

You call it pessimistic, I call it realistic. There has never been a time in history free from war and division. Sure, pockets of people managed to live in relative harmony for a while, but experience shows it never lasts. There's always tyrants, war mongers and greedy people ready to take from the meek, and trample over anyone who gets in their way.

David Black wrote 2110 days ago

The argument that "With or without money, people will find a way to oppress, divide and conquer one another" does strike me as pessimistic and misanthropic. To point that out is hardly diversionary..

Michael Dickinson wrote 2111 days ago

Interesting. What are the other diversion tactics, and how many are there?

Hope wrote 2111 days ago

Diversion Tactic #17: When you're losing ground, question the character of the opponent.

Michael Dickinson wrote 2114 days ago

You sound a rather pessimistic misanthropic sort of person. Are you a monarchist too?

Hope wrote 2114 days ago

The existence or non-existence of God doesn't fix the crack in your moneyless utopia Historical evidence proves that cultures throughout the ages didn't use money as a source of exchange, yet there was still division. Money is simply a symptom of the THING that causes division, taking it away won't take away people's pride, greed, lust and hatred. With or without money, people will find a way to oppress, divide and conquer one another.

Michael Dickinson wrote 2114 days ago

Sorry, but I don't believe in Adam and Eve or Cain and Abel or the spiteful, bossy God of the Old Testament.

It is a fact that most crime today is caused by money - theft, corruption, prostitution, and the exploitation of people forced to work in crappy jobs just so they can pay their rent and taxes, a large amount of which goes to the arms industry, making weapons to kill and threaten other people.

Human beings are basically social animals. Get rid of the thing which causes the gross division of rich and poor - money - and then it will be much easier to follow the golden rule of 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you', and to start creating the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Hope wrote 2115 days ago

Your premise is seriously flawed. With or without money, people fall short of the Glory of God. Money adds to corruption, sure, but to suggest it's the reason why people commit evil is plain wrong. This can be supported biblically and non-biblically. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell from grace, money didn't exist yet. When Cain killed Abel, money didn't exist yet. And if you comb through the OT, there are more examples to be found. Also, as late as the 1900's, certain primitive tribes, who still lived in a moneyless society, waged war against one another--murdered and enslaved one another. If this isn't evil and corrupt, then what is? The LOVE of money is the root of evil, not the money itself. The LOVE of money refers to the pride, lust, greed and hatred within us--AND as long as these things remain, no matter what system of exchange we use--corruption will continue to exist.

Michael Dickinson wrote 2116 days ago

Man is not naturally corrupt. He is corrupted by money and the capitalist system.

A barter system will not be necessary in the moneyless society. Everything will be provided to everybody free of charge. Do they use money in 'heaven'? I don't think so. You remember the 'Lord's Prayer'? "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." And it says "Give us this day our daily bread", not "Sell us it." And what about "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."? I think you'll have to admit that according to your criteria, it's not me who is the king of twaddle, but Jesus.

Hope wrote 2117 days ago

Talk about twaddle, you're the king. The world existed without money for thousands of years under the barter system and everything wasn't fine. Doing away with money isn't going to fix anything, because money isn't the problem. It's the corrupt nature of man.

Michael Dickinson wrote 2117 days ago

What a load of twaddle, woman!

Can you imagine Jesus, investing in banks and land and swanning around in ermine like the pope having incence swung around him in a palace like the Vatican? Jesus was calling for an end to the capitalist, elitist royalist system that existed in his lifetime and persists to this day. Jesus was a socialist communist. He would be disgusted by the mammon worshipping hypocritical Church built upon his bones, invading third world countries, conquering and commiting genocide in his name. Get real!

You cannot serve God and Mammon. If you call yourself a 'Christian', you will follow this message and pass it on, in order to finally bring about the kingdom of heaven on earth -


If you agree that the abolition of money would be a fine solution to most of our problems, and that we could create a much better system where EVERYTHING - food and drink, clothing and housing, water, heating, education, health-care and entertainment - shall be FREE for EVERYONE - why not join the World-Wide Strike on the opening day of the Olympic Games in 2012?

The Strike will begin the moment the symbolic Olympic flame is lit - the signal for all who support the abolition of money to stop work and demand a new fair world of true freedom and justice.


Wake up! Or you can just go yawning into hell.

Hope wrote 2117 days ago

This book sounds like it was written by an angry ex-Catholic or someone eager to blame a religious group for all the ills in the world (sound familiar?). There's nothing new here, except the same old tired and often unsubstantiated claims about the pope sitting on a vault of gold, and how the Catholic Church is at fault for the ills of the world. Eye roll here. Plus the same silly claim that the Vatican should sell off it's assets to solve world hunger. Most the Vatican's assets are tied up in land--churches, missions, schools and hospitals--makes a lot of sense to sell them off to help the poor, when the majority of the land is used to help educate and minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the poor. This book is filled with unoriginal anti-catholic rhetoric and resembles long drawn-out Jack Schick rant . The writing style is OK, but the subject matter has been done many times over, and it's a great big YAWN.

Michael Dickinson wrote 2226 days ago

A friend tried to access the site to check out my stuff but couldn't, and registration was rejected.

If you asked an agent or a publisher to inspect your work here, would they be able to?

David Black wrote 2226 days ago

Michael, you ask if there is "a message board on this site where comments on particular books might be kept for reference, or where writers could share general tips about writing and ideas?" and answer "No." Well, it's certainly a good question. If there's no answer, then it's more Big Brother house than concentration camp - though in both cases there is no "audience." Or is there? Presumably the answer is "Somewhere out there" (I love that song; those mice are so cute).

Michael Dickinson wrote 2226 days ago

And where do general comments go? Is there a pool on the site where they are collected? No.

Is there a message board on this site where comments on particular books might be kept for reference, or where writers could share general tips about writing and ideas? No.

Is this just a self-congraturatory concentration camp of author rejects? What is the point?