Friday, August 26, 2005

DISSENTER'S NOTEBOOK: Ending Dependence on Foreign Oil

I will not support any effort to “End Our Dependence on Foreign Oil,” as one slogan has it. The goal is impossible to meet, a fatuous and dangerous dream. There are two reasons for this:

1) The only way we could end our dependence on foreign oil is to make all the world’s oil ours. That can only happen with endless resource wars, massive waste of human lives, destruction of natural resources, utterly depleted economies, and insurmountable debt.

2) If we could end our dependence on foreign oil without the losses described above, then we would be left with only the oil on our own American continent, and that is not enough to get us through the rest of the decade.

The only slogan worthy of support is this: “End our dependence on oil.”

Sunday, August 21, 2005

DISSENTER'S NOTEBOOK: The American Experiment

Well Friends,

The American experiment is finally over. It never succeeded all that well, but as Winston Churchill said, it worked better than anything else has -- for a while at least.

It took too long to get over the three-fifths clause in our own Constitution, and we still haven't gotten over the Civil War, and our moral fiber has deteriorated to the point where we don't even want to work on the most serious issues like poverty or racism, our environmental destruction or perpetual war.

Now we have our own version of the STASI (Homeland Security), our civil liberties are down the tube, and thanks to NAFTA, GATT, WTO and FTAA our government has cheerfully, aggressively, deliberately given transnational corporations power over our national sovereignty. We have insulated the rich from every means of compelling moral behavior and forced economic concessions on labor and the poor to keep the rich afloat. Our racism , the economy, and warfare have become political tools rather than moral issues, and the environment upon which we depend for our very lives has been declared of no account. Nature will surely rise up and bring the whole system tumbling down -- which of course means that we have adopted every tactic we can imagine to bring ourselves down. Without representative government and a loyal opposition the political system cannot survive; without civil liberties we cannot object; without care for the environment and governmental means to protect ourselves from transnational corporations, we can't last much longer

The scary phrase that has crept into the conversation in the last few years, even among those who don't like us, is that we have become "the world's only great superpower." Remember the old saw about power corrupting? If we are not only powerful, and thus corrupted, but the only superpower, who else can be considered absolutely corrupted? Indeed who has been responsible for more wars, more deaths, more oppression of the poor around the world in the last forty years than we have with our military interventions and our economic policies? Since Korea we have developed really smart weapons of deadly accuracy. In WW I and WWII 90% of the killed and wounded were military. Our smart weapons have reversed that. Now 90% of the casualties are civilians.

And who has been the biggest bully? Look at the folks we've gone to war with. Grenada, for pete's sake! Panama? Nicaragua, where we left 70,000 dead peasants, using other peasants as surrogate warriors so we wouldn’t have to fight or take the blame for their atrocities. And pitiful Iraq via both our military and UN sanctions, where we left 500,000 children dead during sanctions, a figure which critics reject as too high an estimate. So what are we supposed to do, lower it by 50% and then say, "Oh, OK, 250,000 children is all right? And now we're killing thousands more children and other civilians so Halliburton can profit and we can keep the Russians and the French from the benefits of the oil contracts they had arranged with Saddam? We would never fight anyone who might be able to retaliate, North Korea being a prime example, but always pick on the cripples. We go to war with Iraq because we can win, let N. Korea off the hook because we might get hurt.

As e.e. cummings said, "Listen, there's a helluva good universe next door. Let's go.” I would, but there's nothing useful a stranger can do in the universe next door either, or I'd be at least as far as New Zealand in a flash.

So how's by you guys?

Love and hugs and everything good and non-governmental,

Awkword