Sophistry put to the sword

I enjoyed George Pitcher’s column, subtly linking the remuneration of Shell’s chairman with the Iraq war and oil prices (MW April 10), at least as an example of the finest sophistry I’ve read in ages.

Putting aside the fact that comments about executive remuneration are probably best treated somewhere other than in an article about a war, the inference drawn was rubbish.

Does anyone (other than Pitcher) believe the US and UK are seeking to secure Middle Eastern oil resources by making Iraqis blow up their oil wells? This is not true in fact, nor likely in theory: a large number of military personnel serving in Iraq are deployed specifically to prevent the destruction of oil wells, and if I ever chose to become the owner of my neighbour’s car, I probably wouldn’t force him to stick a burning rag in the petrol tank.

I’d also love to hear of any producer who thinks the destruction of a large amount of their exhaustible raw resource is a good thing. Pitcher’s oil-trading chum, who doesn’t remove the stuff from the ground and refine it but rather makes money out of spikes in the price, probably loves the war, but he is of course not one of the major oil companies.

Would Luther Pendragon suggest to a paper manufacturer that the road to riches was to start forest fires? Perhaps sound strategic business advice is also an exhaustible resource.

Fraser Riddell



London NW1


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