This has been a good week for spotting our old seminar speakers, but not always in the, you know, good sense.
Juan Cole was one of them. He’s a Middle Eastern scholar at the U of M who blogs here and is widely interviewed. I thought this interview with him in our otherwise pretty limp alt-weekly was must reading, particularly if you’re looking for a reason to stick your head in the oven:
There is a problem, and I don’t think people have any idea how much of a tightrope we’re walking in the Gulf region. If Iraq did go to a conventional civil war; if it drew Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey into it; if you have generalized guerrilla war among countries; and if they started hitting pipelines the way they’re hitting pipelines in Iraq, you could really send the world into another Great Depression.
MT: We were going to ask you about the worst-case scenario.
Cole: That’s the worst-case scenario. The three of us standing in a breadline.
MT: And what do you think is the likelihood that could occur?
Cole: I would give it 5 percent. I don’t think it’s a high probability. It’s out there as a possibility.
There’s the worst-case scenario: Full-on civil war in Iraq triggers worldwide depression. I hit Cole’s blog today. I knew the news would be horrible, but it was worse than that:
Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss.
Off to Chicago. Try not to dwell on the bad news.