08 January 2006

A Case For War (R)

I love where I live (the United States) and the time I live in. You can't beat it. We all have charmed lives. We all live in quite possibly the best place and time you could possibly live. Yes, it's romantic to think about living in ancient Rome or Victorian England but, when you factor in the daily living chores, the travel expense (just the time expense alone would be prohibitive), and medical care, you just can't beat living in this day and age. Most people in the past (a hundred years ago and further) never left the few miles surrounding their home. Be it city or farm, the few miles radius around their home encompassed their whole world. Unless you were a soldier or merchant trader, you really didn't get to do or see much. Now, we call half a state our "home" and travel the world (rather cheaply, comparatively), and even if we don't travel, we have television and the Internet. The former gives us wonderful visuals of the world around us, through drama and comedy and PBS and the latter contains the sum total of human knowledge, more being added every day! We have heat and air conditioning in our homes, to keep the temperature "just right" and we have refrigerator to keep our exotic foods fresh that we got in the middle of winter at the local grocery store. Which routinely stocks fresh vegetables and tropical citrus fruits and all manner of foodstuffs galore every day, year round. There are warehouses posing as stores (WalMart, Sam's Club) full of everything you'd ever need, for a small fee.
Life is good. And it only gets better. Just think how far we have progressed since the fifties. The sixties. The seventies (just in fashion sense alone, lol). We, as a culture, are way better off than before, and getting better. Now, for all the naysayers, who will start with the homeless problem and poverty and hunger within our own country I say this, we have government sponsored programs and private organizations that address those ills. Money to spend on our poor and money well spent. In no time throughout history can you be considered poor and hungry when you have a running car, a roof over your head and a job. Except now. We have no real concept of what "poor" is. Of what "hungry" is. Our biggest gripes seem to be over the fact that the cable went out and I wanted to watch telly. Yes, there is poverty here but, it's not the poverty that can be found elsewhere and throughout time.
But, all of this wonder, all of this wealth, all of this comfort comes at a price. Everything we have done as a species, all the advances we have leaped and jumped to have all been brought about when we harnessed the power of fossil fuels.
Yes, oil.
That stuff the dinosaurs and plant life from millions and millions of years ago that decayed and pressurized and underwent a mystical change to lie underground waiting to be found. Black gold. Texas Tea. It revolutionized the world. Everything changed once the applications of it's uses could be exploited. Petrol for our cars. Plastics from petroleum by-products for our products. Rocket fuels for our rockets. Oil. That wonder from the deepest recesses of Mother Earth, that black milk that feeds our societies. Nourishes our cultures. Fuels our economies and our very way of life.
Nothing you do, nothing you have, could be possible today without somehow being affected by the production and use of oil.
It means everything. Everything. EVERYTHING! It is the life giver (and now, through war, the life taker as well). Our lives are so enriched by what oil does for us. And it's uses have aided in every advance to make our lives better. Imagine, if you will, how much better our grandchildren's and our grandchildren's children will be if the advances keep coming. And to fuel these advances, we need...well...fuel.
There are other sources out there. Solar. Nuclear. Wind. Viable sources, to be sure. But right now, they don't have the potential that oil has shown us. And we have no need to find their potential uses while oil is just lying about in the ground waiting to be sucked out and put to use. And they don't have the infrastructure that has been in place for the gathering, distribution and use of oil.
But there lies the problem.
How much oil is left?
The answer is, no one has a clue. Oh, you can show me studies that say the oil reserves are seriously depleted and I can show you studies that say we have more than enough. There are just too many variables to be absolutely sure about how much is down there and how long it will last. But, you can be sure of one thing, it is a finite resource. It will run out.
China. India. I think we can all agree, they have HUGE populations. These are countries on the brink of revolution. Not like our Revolution, I mean a revolution in their society and culture. You see, they like what we have. They have tasted the good life, and they want more. More. MORE! Our great American companies have awakened a giant (or two). By sending jobs overseas to reap huge profits while raping employees of their wages, they have caused an unexpected shift in the global outlook. While these people in foreign lands are making crappy pay, they are learning what that crappy pay can pay for which, in their current economy, is quite a lot. But, they are also getting something else for their crappy wages, knowledge. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. Because now, they know what they were missing. And now, they have the keys to get what they have been denied all this time. Capitalism, the want and greed of the almighty dollar has toppled all societies. Not Democracy. That was just a means to an end, clearing the way to let capitalism run rampant and unchecked to give us all the riches we could possible want. And exploit.
And now "they" have it. They have been infected by it. And it's a dangerous thing. Because what fuels that avarice and greed? What increases your potential to gain and reap? What means do you have to buy, Buy, BUY!
And there is a whole lot of it still sitting under the deserts in the middle east. We aren't there fighting the terrorists, they are but an unfortunate nuisance because. now we will have to contend and compete with the giant China for these finite resources. Maybe not right now and maybe not in the near future but, we will. And it won't be pretty.
That's why we are in Iraq. And that's why we should be. We need a foothold, hell, a strong military presence over the teat of Mother Earth and her precious black milk. Because we will be fighting a larger battle with the giants that have awoke and are hungry. Hungry for the fuel that will feed their countries. Their greed. Their "revolutions". The price we are paying right now in Iraq with American lives is dear and steep. One life, one dead soldier is a horrible price to pay but, we will be in a much larger battle and spending a far greater price in life when we are competing for oil.
Because it will come to that.
And now, we are fighting for possession of that finite resource and we have to. And it's better to fight now, against a weaker and smaller enemy than against a strong and powerful and huge enemy. Everything we are as a people and as a society demands that we keep the oil flowing. TO US. Because if we do not, we will have a whole lot more to complain about than losing our cable for the day. Or getting bumped off of AOL. We will learn what is is to really be hungry. To really be poor. And we will be living in those "romantic" times of yesteryear, when there was no oil. And death and disease and hunger and the wolves, were literally at your door.
That's what changed my mind. Our future.


  1. Damn Mortimer....if I didn't know better, I'd swear you are turning conservative:)

    Seriously though, this is a very intelligent and though provoking entry. You made some excellent points.

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  2. Mort,

    This is a fine piece of work, my friend. You make the argument George W. Bush and his cronies didn't have the balls to make and you make it well. Articulate, informative, and witty, you put our current foreign policy in sharp relief.

    However, let me be clear that I completely disagree with your conclusion. Fighting fist and claw for the last remaining drops of "black milk" is not, in my mind, a wise decision. It is a short-sighted policy that doesn't solve any of the problems of peak oil.

    Allow me to respond more fully in a post at my blog. You've given me a great deal to think about. Thank you, my friend.