Bill Totten's Weblog

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle

Commentary on the Flux of Events


by Jim Kunstler (March 27 2006)



This is how deluded the American public is now: Various polls are showing that the war in Iraq has reached new lows of unpopularity. The dumb bunnies in the news media are implying that when the numbers get low enough, we will pull our troops out and go home.

This is not going to happen. Our inordinate hubris has led us to believe that this conflict is optional.

Notice, too, that the war-weary public has done, and continues to do, nothing to change its habits of profligate oil use which have driven us to project our military into the Middle East. We have not even begun a discussion of what we might do. We just expect to keep running American society exactly the way it has been set up to run - as a nonstop demolition derby, with hamburgers and fries between laps around the freeway.

At the highest level of public discourse, the cluelessness is shocking. The New York Times Sunday Book Review ran a front-page piece yesterday on Francis Fukuyama's latest salvo, America at the Crossroads (Yale University Press, 2006), which is largely about our Middle East war policy, without once using the word "oil". The reviewer, Paul Berman, is not a dummy, but he has evidently flown up the national rectum with the rest of the people who are paid to think in our society. To these guys, the whole issue is an effete argument over strategic fashions such as "realistic Wilsonianism".

The plain truth is, if anything happens to upset the current management and allocation system of the the global oil markets, the industrial economies of the world will collapse, and America's will collapse hardest and worst because of the way we have arranged things for ourselves. The global oil markets currently revolve around Middle East oil production. If the region is overcome by instability, than it's simply GAME OVER.

You can spin out any number of strategic scenarios about what is liable to happen in the Middle East from here on, with or without America trying to run a police station there, and none of them are good. They range from Iran gaining control of twenty percent of the world's remaining oil, to a free-for-all world war joined by virtually all the nations capable of projecting military power into the region. We'd be stuck with the consequences because we are otherwise too cowardly, lazy, and greedy to face our situation at home - which is simply that we cannot keep running a drive-in utopia. We have to make other arrangements and we have to make them now.

Our denial runs deep and hard. Even the educated minority (including the tech wonks) believe that we can run the freeways and the WalMarts on alternative fuels. They flatter themselves listening to the morning yammer about "renewables" on NPR as they make the daily commute from, say, the suburban asteroid belts of Northern Virginia into Washington, DC. They bethink themselves progressive, cutting edge, morally superior in their Priuses.

The major media have done a huge disservice to the public in supporting these delusions. CBS's 60 Minutes show did it twice this year already, broadcasting one segment that flat-out stated the Alberta tar sands would solve all our problems, and then a second segment a few weeks later stating that coal liquefaction would keep everything humming indefinitely. CNN ran a prime-time Sunday show the week before last saying that we could keep running all our cars on ethanol forever. The damage that this disinformation might do is really out of this world.

What can we do? Oil man Jeffrey Brown of Dallas has made the interesting suggestion that we replace some or all of the national income tax with a substantial national gasoline tax. A congressional debate over that would be worth hearing. It would be a good start in concentrating our minds in the right direction: that is, toward the problems we have created for ourselves at home. There are many other things we could do also, from rebuilding our railroads to removing incentives for suburban development. They would all require major shifts in our behavior. We can either begin them voluntarily or wait for events to compel us to live differently. In the absence of that, our presence in Iraq is not optional.

http://www.kunstler.com/mags_diary16.html

Bill Totten http://www.ashisuto.co.jp/english/index.html

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