PULL YOUR HEAD OUT, GEORGE (12/7/02)
Well, I guess this is it. After much research, debate, and thought, and I think I've finally decided that I'm against the war on Iraq.
It surprises me a little, because a few months ago I wouldn't have been caught dead speaking such classic Liberal, Give-World-Collectivism-A-Chance claptrap. Except that I'm not really in that camp. My arguments are about what is in the interest of the United States of America, nothing more.
The President has told us that this war would cost approximately 200 billion dollars. That's a lot of money, even in a national budgetary sense. The fundamental question we must ask is this: Will spending this money on this war give the United States enough benefit to justify diverting it from the other things it could be used for?
Think of the United States as a business. We're reading the Profit & Loss projection for the next 5 years. Profits are down and shrinkage (that's loss of saleable merchandise, for non-retail veterans) is up. We have been allotted 200 billion dollars from corporate headquarters to do something about it.
So let's see...
What is the actual problem? Well, we keep getting attacked.
Attacked by who? By stateless organizations of disgruntled religious fanatics.
Okay, so what generates religious fanaticism in the United States? Demagogues.
What attracts people to demagogues? Poverty and alienation.
What creates poverty and alienation? Lack of education and job opportunity.
What leads to lack of education and job opportunity? Lack of financial resources.
So...if we can assume that these forces behave at least similarly in the rest of the world, then we have to assume that the ROOT problem is a lack of financial resources. Think there might be something that 200 billion dollars might do to start solving that problem?
Sure, there's no guarantee that this strategy would make the United States safer. But neither is there a guarantee that attacking only one of many terrorist-laden nations would accomplish that goal. And the latter option is actually more likely to INCREASE the antipathy toward the U.S. by the poor and alienated nations of the world.
Educating the world's children and increasing their marketable skills is not some touchy-feely Sally Struthers mumbo jumbo, it's the best way to protect the United States in the years to come. Because we can kill off the current generation of poor, alienated religious fanatics all we want, but if their children continue to be faced with the handicaps of their parents, we will forever have a new crop of suicide bombers to threaten our safety.
The next question is obvious: What makes anyone think that Saddam Hussein is about to let a bunch of U.S. do-gooders into his country to build schools? Well, nothing, so long as he's got the world bent over a gigantic oil barrel.
Which leads us to Part II.
It's no great secret that the search for alternatives to oil dependence have historically been thwarted by the industry whose representatives most want to invade Iraq. But this year may begin the end of that state of affairs. The state of California, the nation's largest automobile market, has passed a law that will require auto emissions for new cars in 2009 to be at such low levels that auto makers such as General Motors have already announced plans to build new lines of either hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles in preparation for the '09 deadline.
In his book The Hydrogen Economy, author and activist Jeremy Rifkin has outlined the ways in which the technology is already in place for the nation to make the transition from oil to hydrogen. All we need is the distribution system. Which, by the way, would cost less than 200 billion dollars.
With the demise of U.S. oil dependence, the Arab world will no longer have the trump card that keeps it from making its citizens participants in the world economy. At present, the dominance of the few who control the oil has resulted in a have-and-have-not disparity of alarming proportions. Which is fertile ground for those demagogues I mentioned.
Wait, wait, stop typing. I know what you're about to say: So we cut off the Arab world's primary export, then move in to build schools. Won't the demagogues cry "New World Order"? Probably.
But ask this question: What angers people more, appearances of impropriety or slaying of fellow citizens? That's a pretty easy one. And it's one reason why recent U.S. anti-war protests have been far more vehement and organized than the anti-WTO protests that preceded them. Conspiracies are one thing, lives are another. We all know that. And in the end, Arab countries with educated and gainfully employed citizens would be able to build their own schools and have their own shot at the world economy.
The two-part scheme outlined above is admittedly rudimentary. But at least it's addressing the disease, not the symptoms. Mr. Bush would prefer to put a band-aid on the buboes and leave finding a cure for the plague till later. And I'm sorry, but we've done that for quite long enough.
Pull your head out, George. Pull it out now. Profits are still down, and shrinkage is about to go waay up if you don't. "Regime change", indeed.