The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, a Daughter's Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil
When Daniel Dennett, America's first master spy in the Middle East, was dispatched to Saudi Arabia in 1947, he had a particular mission: to study the route of the proposed Trans-Arabian Pipeline. It would be his last assignment. The plane carrying him from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia went down in a mysterious crash, killing all on board. Decades later his daughter, journalist Charlotte Dennett, decided to find out what was behind her father's death and why the records about it remained classified after so many years. Along the way she stumbled upon map after map showing proposed, built, and contested pipelines. And she came to realize just how much unrest in and around the Middle East in the past three decades could be explained by doing one simple thing: following pipeline routes. That is exactly what Dennett does in The Crash of Flight 3804. Through stories and maps, she explores her father's last journey and reveals the hidden dynamics of pipeline politics in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, Turkey, Israel/Palestine, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. She shows how pipeline conflicts help explain why the United States is vehemently opposed to Iran and its allies, Syria and Russia, and why Africa is becoming a major battleground where the United States is pitted against China and their proxies in the Great Game for Oil. Pipeline consciousness has begun to take hold in the American public, thanks to the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Tar Sands Keystone XL pipeline. Yet there is little awareness or discussion of how US military deployments to the Middle East are designed to protect pipeline routes from sabotage-or bring down governments that oppose them. Understanding those connections, stresses Dennett, is more critical than ever. Since 9/11, Americans have been told that they are sending soldiers to foreign lands to eradicate Islamist terrorists threatening US national security. Rarely has the American media provided the broader context in which the conflicts have taken place-namely, the feverish competition for oil and natural gas supplies among nations and fossil fuel companies. But who, asks Dennett, would want to send their children into war to help oil and gas companies?