ANTI - SERENDIPITY

I have been writing several stories about serendipity, or happy coincidences and results,
but there must also be an opposite of this phenomenon:
things that might have happened but did not.
One example is what did not happen in Kuwait in 1976.
I had been hired as consultant to KISR and one of the reasons was to promote cooperation
with the Marine Science Consortium of which I was the president.
Thus, three of the first orders of business were to appoint the Consortium as the purchasing agent
for oceanographic equipment and supplies, to establish a $100K Letter of Credit,
and to have KISR apply for membership.
There was the distinct prospect to build a separate
Marine Station along the north coast of Kuwait Bay,
or on the (controversial/contested) island of Bubiyan.
It was this area where my friend A.M. would later
do the fieldwork for his M.Sc. Geology degree at
Millersville University.

please click to enlarge map

Imagine the course of history if in the late 1980's there had been a flourishing
international Marine Science Center located along the road between Basrah and Kuwait...

One doubts that Saddam woulds have risked invading Kuwait under these circumstances!
On the other hand, it might have made him so mad that he might have invaded Kuwait earlier and nip this development in the bud.

Anyhow, the simple reason this did not happen is the Arab-Israeli Boycott.
Some smart Jewish bank clerk in New York decided that the supporting documents for our
Letter of Credit were inadequate, so that they would be sent for collection by (sea) mail.
In the meantime, the equipment was sitting aboard one of the hundred or more vessels
waiting off the Port of Kuwait to be unloaded. KISR was unhappy, and the Consortium was
pressured to pay its main supplier, KahlSiCo, whose owner actually wrote angry letters to
all the presidents of the 18 participating colleges and universities. Of course, these officials
did not know anything about the matter, nor were they responsible, since the Consortium
was an independent non-profit organization.
But all the collective wraths descended upon my head - which was already under pressure
from the ambitious ideas inside! KISR did not become a Consortium member, and the marine
science center which would have stopped Saddam's hordes never materialized.
But I did have the good sense to refuse the offer to set up a marine science center for Iran in 1978!
And probably my avoiding closer associations with marine centers in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia, 1978)
and Latakia (Syria, 1989) was also influenced by my (mal)appreciation of the relationships between
the USA, the Arabs and the Jews.

BLO fecit 20041212 - stories