Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blood for Oil?

(notes on photo: this is actually a photo of the first producing oil well in the United States in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859 or so)

How many times have we heard that?


how many have secretly wondered if it is indeed what we're doing in the Middle East?

I'm sure that most of us when we pondered the question, responded immediately and strongly in the negative...and then reflected deeply about what IS the legitimate use of American military force to protect our interests...especially when those interests are ECONOMIC....

Jesus General has pondered that question and come up with some answers...simplistic maybe... but at least he's addressed it more openly and honestly than most have...

Here are a few snippets but I think you should click on the link and read the whole essay.

First, let’s address those aspects which may run against to how people might think about this: it’s not inherently wrong to use the military to defend America’s economic interests. On the contrary, if anything justifies the use of America’s military, defending the health of the economy has to qualify. Perhaps the very first use of American military power overseas was precisely for that reason: we sent ships, part of a new navy created for exactly this purpose, against the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean (notice the geographic proximity to current international trouble).

So at what point, and at what level should military force be used to protect our "standard of living"? Should military force be used at all to protect the precious standard of living? Are we actually talking about situational ethics?

I think in the whole discussion he avoided an obvious question. That question is how come the leadership of this nation, not just the current leadership but leadership since WWII, has not identified America's vulnerabilities to economic blackmail or ruin from other nations and acted responsibly and pro-actively to eliminate that vulnerability? Wouldn't that be what leadership is all about? And to take it a step further, would it be more productive for us to be arguing among ourselves about new and creative uses of energy and energy conservation, than who sleeps with whom?

I can't help but feel we're being duped. I suspect somewhere there are men and women who are debating these exact issues but also keep leadership (if we can call it that) in place that keeps us distracted so we won't think too deeply about these things. And in the meantime, we worry about who will occupy what deck chair on the Titanic.

Remember the movie Three Days of the Condor? In the climax of that Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway thriller, the CIA Chief, played by Cliff Robertson asks, Redford, "...what do you think will happen when a country that has never known hunger starts to go hungry? They won't ask questions about "how" we get the oil, they'll just want us to get it." Redford, the idealist, actually pauses to think about it and I venture to say that no matter how idealistic you are my dear friends, you will probably also hesitate.

Like it or not, we've all been raised with the concept of American "exceptionalism". That is, America is an exception to all other nations because we're (take your pick) more moral, smarter, better, stronger, faster etc., etc. . We derserve to consume the lion's share of the world's natural resources because, well, by golly, just because we're America. (insert cheer: USA! USA! USA!)

So you see, The General has opened up a debate that is much bigger than I think he intended. I think the debate is about what America's role on the planet should be and how we should fulfill it for long term survival of ourselves and the planet.


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