Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about the similarities between the cold war and the war on terrorism at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about silent political strategies versus public political strategies, and in particular I want to talk about the Cold War between America and Russia and the role that Saudi Arabia played in that conflict, a role that was hardly ever acknowledged or discussed in the media. No one ever really talked about it, but the truth is that Saudi Arabia played a huge role in the Cold War, and here’s how.
The public political strategy was the arms race, right? Remember Ronald Reagan, Star Wars, we were going to create actual satellites that had missiles that could fire from space? All these plans were made public. What were we doing? We were trying to create an arms race that was so expensive that we would end up bankrupting the Soviet Federation.
And at the end of the day, the reason that the Soviet Union collapsed was because it was broke. They had no money. And one of the reasons, the public, what everyone thought, basically, was that it was the Cold War, it was the arms race, Star Wars, all this development, all this science, all this technology Russia just couldn’t pay for at all. And of course that’s true, but there is a silent political strategy in the background that accelerated the process, and the Berlin Wall would not have fallen when it did if this other component of the strategy were not in place.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest producers of oil, and actually the percentage of the total oil that they produce today is actually quite a bit smaller than the percentage of the total that they produced in the eighties and the nineties. There has been a lot of discovery around the world, new ways of getting at oil, so there’s production coming in other parts of the world that didn’t exist back then.
So Saudi Arabia was a huge producer of oil and Saudi Arabia was essentially an ally of America, and America was saying, “Hey look, produce a ton of oil. Flood the market. Flood the market with oil because if you do, the price of oil is going to drop.” Supply and demand. If you increase supply, the price is going to come down.
Now, let’s take a look at Russia. One of Russia’s primary sources of income is oil. They’ve got oil. At the time they had Baku, which is now Azerbaijan. Also, northeast of Moscow, there are a lot of oil fields up there. One of the biggest sources of hard currency that Russia has, the Soviet Union had at the time, was the sale of oil. So if the price of oil drops, they get less money.
So the fact that Saudi Arabia increased supply and was flooding the market with oil, that dropped the price, which starved Russia of the money they needed to support the arms race. No one ever talked about that, but it was a huge part of it. Because they were starved for cash, and they were starved for cash because Saudi Arabia, because they were an ally of the United States, were flooding the market with oil, lots of oil. Fascinating.
So, again, you have this public political strategy and this private, more silent political strategy. The public strategy was Star Wars, the arms race. The silent strategy was drop the price of oil by flooding the market.
The same thing is true today with the War on Terror, which is essentially a conflict between Western values and the values of extreme Islam. Most people of the Muslim faith are totally fine as far as their view of the world and the way the world operates in a free market system and so on, but at the extreme elements you’ve got the jihadists and Al-Qaeda and so on, and that’s where the terrorism comes from, and so this is where the conflict is. So again, the public political strategy is the War on Terror and the drone strikes and all the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and rebuilding those countries. Those are very public political strategies.
So what’s the silent political strategy? The silent political strategy is to encourage education and access so that people in those parts of the world start to see how the rest of the world operates. They’re not as isolated. They see that the people in Western countries are not all evil, we’re not all infidels and the devil personified and so forth. You need to give these people access so that they see how the rest of the world operates, and as people get educated, the extreme elements come down. Education moderates political views. So if you want to get rid of an extreme part of Islam, the way to do it is to increase the education level of the entire community, and it’s going to reduce the allure of those extreme elements.
And the Internet is a primary vehicle for this. You get people access to the Internet, look at the entire Arab Spring, has been driven by this, that they have access to the Internet through social media. They’re able to communicate. There is a massive political awakening taking place in the North Africa/Middle East region, what they call MENA – Middle East, North Africa. And so these people are starting to see how the rest of the world operates, and so they’re revolting against their existing power structures.
The short-term result of that is a lot of chaos, and in the case of Egypt they have lost their tourism. Their economies are actually going down as a result, not up, so the better world that they envision for themselves is not materializing in the short run. Same thing happened in Russia when the Wall fell and the Soviet Union broke up. Communism fell, essentially, and the initial stages, first five, 10 years of “Democratic” Russia were way worse than it was before. There were huge lines just for bread. So things got worse in the short term, but then eventually they rebuilt.
But the point is that this is happening right now. This political awakening, because of the Internet, because of access, because of education, is taking place right now and we’re seeing the results of that. And it’s going to spread. Right now, the North Africa and Middle East region has already all been affected by this, but you have to get further East, in particular to places like Pakistan, Afghanistan. Right now the penetration of Internet access is extremely low in those parts of the world. Pakistan in particular, the average person, they have an Internet connection perhaps, but it’s very slow, and what we’re trying to do, in fact even a lot of the reconstruction efforts that we’ve had, have been centered around infrastructure and education infrastructure in many cases. So you give these people access, the education level goes up, political awakening goes up, and the allure of the extreme elements goes down.
So again, the public strategy is the War on Terror, drone strikes, the violence that we’ve had, and the silent political strategy is education and access through the Internet. It’s very good for all of us to see that in any of these large geopolitical dynamics that are unfolding right in front of our eyes around the world, there are always public strategies and silent strategies in the background. So just broaden your perspective and think about what’s really taking place to try and get the shifts to happen that the people in different countries want to happen. And believe me, they all want very different things. But at the heart of it, most people want prosperity and high employment and happiness. So they just have different ways of getting there, that’s all.
Thanks so much for watching this video. I do appreciate it very much. My name is Patrick, once again reminding you to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
NOTE: Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who covers topics surrounding the Middle East and in particular, how western nations should interact with the Muslim World.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.