I look back nowadays, and I think of the great war as a lot of political bull. There shouldn't be wars. That war was a lot of bloody political bull.
During World War I (1914-18), strategists for all the major powers increasingly perceived oil as a key military asset, due to the adoption of oil-powered naval ships, new horseless army vehicles such as trucks and tanks, and even military airplanes. Use of oil during the war increased so rapidly that a severe shortage developed in 1917-18.
Unfortunately for the British, they had ceded much of the oil-producing area in northern Iraq to their French ally in the secret Sykes-Picot Accord of early 1916, carving up the soon-to-be defeated Ottoman Empire. British diplomacy and military plans changed course to recoup what had already been given away. In August 1918, Balfour told assembled Prime Ministers of the British Dominions that Britain must be the "guiding spirit" in Mesopotamia, so as to provide a key resource that the British Empire lacked. "I do not care under what system we keep the oil," he said. "But I am quite clear it is all-important for us that this oil should be available."
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