April 1, 2010 § 1 Comment
President Obama is not drilling for oil because it’s politically expedient. He is not drilling for oil because it reduces our reliance on foreign oil — nothing can do that, and certainly not with the oil deep beneath US waters. President Obama is not drilling for oil to prove to environmentalists that an environmentalist president can extract oil without harm, while simultaneously developing green technologies and reversing economic stagnation. President Obama’s decision to drill for oil is a military decision.
Simple but true. The ongoing and always at the forefront plan to control energy reserves that will ensure the US remains the formidable military, economic and political power is not working according to plan. Drilling for oil in America is a way to stall; the idea being that this change in direction will focus us away from the ongoing US military build up circling the richest and last remaining — and dwindling — energy reserves in the world.
Let’s look at reality, the data: According to Judicial Watch — and others, such at the US Government — in NEDPG documents they obtained, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we can see that 60% of all recoverable oil on the planet is in an area no larger that the state of Kansas. This area is known as the “golden triangle”: from Mosul in Norther Iraq, to the Straits of Hormuz, to an oil field in Saudi Arabia 75 miles in from the coast, just west of Qatar, then back up to the Mosul. And just about all of Iran’s oil lies near its western shoreline on the Gulf. ( see maps obtained by Judicial Watch here)
It’s quite easy to see that the US military already occupies part of this area and surrounds the remaining. On January 29, 2001, President Bush established the National Energy Policy Group (or NEPDG) to develop a national energy policy. The Vice President was then directed to lead the group and other high-level officials were named as members. On May 16, 2001, The NEPDG submitted a report and recommendations to the President. The report was published and entitled: National Energy Policy: Reliable, Affordable, and Environmentally Sound Energy for America’s Future. The stark but very real maps obtained by the conservative watchdog, Judicial Watch, reveal with uncanny precision the Cheney lead strategy to control this area.
In The Guardian, in September of 2003, Michael Meacher MP, UK Environment Minister 1997-2003, said, “The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure global domination … The plan ["Rebuilding America's Defenses," Project for a New American Century -- 2000] shows Bush’s cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power … The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies…As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually since the 1960s” (qtd. in Crossing the Rubicon; 42).
The push back military forces are experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by the encroachment of Iran, as well as the problems caused by Israel’s refusal to cease building on Palestenian soil, have slowed the Bush-Cheney NEPDG plan to control the area. For instance, according to Cheney’s NEPDG, “to meet projected demand over the next two decades America must have in place between 1,300 and 1,900 new electrical plants. Much of this new generation will be fueled by natural gas.” On the other side, oil powers everything — the food supply, for starters; oil powers more than 600 million vehicles worldwide — and the numbers are increasing. Realities on the ground have slowed our military occupation — and control — of the “golden triangle.” But demands for oil and gas have not diminished, even when great effort is being made by the likes of 350.0rg to alert us of the damages we make by continuing to consume as we do.
Where is the energy supply to feed us, for the always ongoing mantra of growth, for our automobiles, which we equate with freedom and self-realiance (an illusion), going to come from? Not off the American coasts.
Oil is going to come from the control exerted in the most vital energy area, the “golden triangle.” We have reached a crisis point; we may even be at a tipping point. Environmentalists and pr0-drilling conservatives are debating what drilling will do to our oceans and the illusion that drilling in US waters will make us less dependent on foreign oil. It’s a sham. The real conversation should be about Peak Oil and our over consumption in a closed eco system. We’re heading towards more military action, not just in the “golden triangle” area, but also in Latin America and Africa — follow the military with an eye on the maps and the reality of our situation will become clear.
August 21, 2008 § Leave a Comment
When we cast a vote, we are in fact saying that, based on what candidates have said during the campaign, we believe a particular vision for the country. I took it upon myself, then, to try and imagine this vision based on positions and policy statements made by John McCain and Barack Obama. If one or the other candidate were to be elected–a sure thing–what would America look like in the coming years? What are we facing?
Below is my first prognostication, a John McCain victory. In the coming week or so, I will do the same for Barack Obama.
In each case, I had no pre-conceived notion of what I would say–or should. I am an independent voter, beholding to no political group. I don’t join political action groups or lobby for one person or another. I do, however, take positions based on my understanding of the issues, the concerns of my family, community and students, and my sense of where America should be in the not so distant future. I read a lot, study the issues, and think. The cause or issue I feel strongest about is education. And I can say unequivocally that neither candidate is even remotely close to understanding what’s happening in our schools. Of course, this issue is secondary to the devastation our move into Iraq and our disregard for Afghanistan has cost thousands upon thousands of people here and there.
As a theme, I took it upon myself to try and see how each candidate is going to try and move us away from the politics of destruction. This is the outcome.
America’s Future After a McCain Victory: Descent Into Darkness
Disorder and uncertainty are the guiding principles of our world today. This is what gets John McCain elected by a narrow margin. Somehow he convinces the electorate–including the intellectual class–that the sense of being adrift can be pushed back with his approach to the future, a conservatism based on letting market forces dictate everything from the welfare of veterans to the running of schools to the environment, and the continuation of a Machiavellian foreign policy.
Contradicting his promise during the summer campaign, McCain continues (quietly) filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). And since oil consumption in America dropped as Americans reacted accordingly to the high cost of their consumption, and gasoline prices at the pump leveled at just below $4 a gallon, McCain sees this as a sign of change, a sign that we have somehow turned the corner on our reliance on oil and we’re moving in the right direction. America is changing for the better, assumes McCain.
So John McCain proposes A National Strategy For Energy Security. But this does not include any incentives for alternative energy development, putting him at odds with Al Gore and the science of global warming. (see also What is Global Warming?)
John McCain is a proven conservative, and his strategy will not rely on subsidies, rifle-shot tax breaks, line-items for lobbyists, or big-government debacles. It will rely on the genius and technological prowess of American industry and science. McCain thus relies on outdated rhetoric that will continue to effectively build on the policies of the previous administration. But since gasoline prices dropped, the complacent (unconscious?) electorate believes him and goes along with his plan since it’s no strain on Americans–not for now, the immediate.
McCain appeals to American’s propensity to think short term.
The oil industry, in the quarter following McCain’s election, reports even greater profits than the year before. The Bush-Cheney presidency, therefore, is defined as extremely successful by the oil company CEOs–as well as by conservative think tanks–because the mantel has been effectively handed over to “the right person,” John McCain. He will continue the Bush-Cheney agenda in energy and the environment.
And just to make sure, McCain promises that should Americans be worried about the upcoming summer fun, since disorder and uncertainty are of primary concern, he will once again ask Congress to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2009.
Americans flock back to their vehicles, some to their outdated S.U.V.’s, but others to new hybrids and more efficient models. Consumption increases and McCain points to this as positive because there is an increase in revenues for rebuilding the highways and bridges across America–a sign of hope, a sign that America is back to where it once was. We’re rebuilding America! America is moving again!
But suddenly, before the first one hundred days are up, the stock market, which has been fluctuating up and down, eventually declines and oil prices tick upward again and reach unprecedented levels.
Terrorism affects diversification strategies in the market. Political volatility in the Middle East keeps energy traders on edge. Climate chaos, including weather swings, increasingly becomes a major element in evaluating the outlook for everything from agricultural crops to energy use, and even to energy production in offshore oil rigs (puts a damper on drilling in Alaska, which becomes more costly than anticipated and doesn’t affect the price Americans pay at the pump or for fuel for their homes–a tragic irony!) and refineries located by seaports. Matters darken. Nature’s whims affect financial markets, the ups and downs of our understanding of wealth. No stability is apparent. The poor in the cold regions of the United States suffer in unprecedented ways.
Our collective belief is that we are vulnerable, more so now then ever before in history. At one hundred days, McCain’s approval ratings are way down. Congress, dominated by the Democrats, is in a frenzy. Stalemate. Nothing is moving forward.
A slow but definitive brain drain, for the first time in American history, is noticeable: those Americans who can afford it, leave the U.S. for other lands–some for Europe, others for developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, believing that the future is elsewhere and since globalization is built on the “knowledge industry” coupled to technology, their work–engineering, science and medicine, the arts and education–can be done from anywhere, and at lower human and environmental costs.
Education and Healthcare:
Education: John McCain issues his premise that Excellence, Choice, and Competition in American Education is what’s necessary to stop the increase in drop out rates, particularly among minorities, and make American children more competitive in the future. To accomplish this, McCain says that public support for a child’s education should follow that child throughout the education chosen by the parents.
On the one hand, McCain increases the demands placed on schools by No Child Left Behind and, on the other, he manages to get through Congress a bill supporting the movement of children from the less competitive schools to the more flexible, student-centered schools, free of violence and that are focused on character-building. The education double bind that spells disaster for learning is strengthened.
The poorest of American neighborhoods become even poorer, their schools even more deplorable. Those that can afford to leave for better schools do, for others, much like school busing in the ’60s, going to another school means tremendous sacrifice. Drop out rates increase, as does crime among kids 11 to 21.
John McCain persists and says that the cultural problems in our education system – is a system that still seeks to avoid genuine accountability and responsibility for producing well-educated children. He blames the administrators and teachers, and the parents for lack of involvement, failing to understand the socioeconomic-familial make up of the communities he’s addressing. The promises of education are now a distant, unreachable dream for many–the unreality of many poor.
Advocates of education criticize McCain for being totally out of touch with the poor in urban centers whose unemployment is 6 to 8% higher than in other parts of the country
Educationally, the gap between the haves and the have nots widens. Some of the most challenged urban centers in America deteriorate further. On the other end of the spectrum, competition for elite colleges and universities increases, particularly given the new financial aid policies of these schools, enabling them to pick from the cream of the crop. The rest are left for the second and third tier schools.
There is an increase in online schooling; likewise, some students learn that Europe offers a competitive higher education model and go there where they are welcomed with open arms.
A more stringent–and obvious–demarcation between the classes ensues. Status reigns supreme; it is the calling card. Class, not race (though this is still the unspoken problem in America, especially after the election), becomes the central issue separating Americans.
John McCain argues for standards based education on a massive scale and points to his success in getting Congress to approve the “let the money follow the child ” model of competition in education as beginning to move children–and America–in the right direction.
Mayors from urban centers gather and complain even more forcefully that the Federal Government has totally forgotten them. Governors of states with large urban centers follow suit. Cities have lost Federal grants for infrastructure needs, the money being channeled to Iraq and the chaos in Afghanistan.
Healthcare: Healthcare and Education run side-by-side. The way of healthcare is the way of education.
John McCain pursues a policy that is similar to his education policy–let competition settle the problem. This is seen as the right direction by the pharmaceuticals since they are really the managers of America’s healthcare system.
Since 2000, the number of Americans without healthcare has increased by almost 9 million–16% of the population without healthcare. Given the economy, the loss of jobs and the increase in unemployment, coupled to the gutting of inner city neighborhoods, under McCain’s watch, the number of uninsured rises.
Following this “competitive model”, even those who are employed lose healthcare coverage. In 2006, 37.7 million workers were uninsured because not all businesses offer health benefits, not all workers qualify for coverage and many employees cannot afford their share of the health insurance premium even when coverage is at their fingertips. By the start of 2010, McCain’s second year in office, this number increases by 2.5 million workers.
Americans that can afford it seek healthcare services abroad, where it’s cheaper and increasingly just as good. Why put up with expensive, run-of-the-mill health care at home when you can be treated just as well abroad?
McCain’s healthcare policies exacerbate America’s brain drain, on the one hand, and more so than ever before, globalization begins to affect the cash flow in the U.S.: investors place their money in foreign companies in developing countries. More investment capital leaves the U.S..
Veterans hospitals across the country suffer along with large teaching hospitals because external competition means a loss of patients. Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, still increasing, are forced to seek help from non-governmental sources, even non-American sources, because the U.S. medical system’s infrastructure is chaotic, at best, and inadequate for their complex needs.
John McCain insists on pursuing this approach to healthcare since it’s the method he promised to follow during his campaign for office. In two years, the American medical system is the shame of the industrialized world.
In difficult times, Americans chose John McCain for what he said was his “foreign policy expertise.”
But increasingly, Americans realize that McCain’s understanding of foreign policy is merely the continuation of Machiavellian policies as old as the conquest of the Americas. Americans see that McCain’s foreign policy is based on the fundamental themes of conquest, retaining the strength and vitality of the causes of “savage injustice” for those who fail to go along with America.
For John McCain, putting America first, we learn, defines a predatory foreign policy that in reality puts America at further risk, alienating us from the rest of the world that seeks a more hospitable future.
McCain goes against the wisdom outlined by experts and journalists from the left and the right, suggesting that unbridled Bush-style aggression is perceived by adversaries as a justification to wield weapons of terror. Thus McCain calls for the transformation of the military to a more pliable machine and argues for the first use of nuclear weapons and the right for unilateral use of military power, particularly against Iran. American aggression increases.
Iraq is at odds with McCain because he extends pull-out dates into a nebulous future, which is consistent with Bush-style aggression designed to ensure the U.S. maintain military bases in the Middle East. (US Military Facilities in Iraq)
Afghanistan further deteriorates, particularly since U.S. Special Forces increase clandestine operations into Iran. Brutal violence and devastation increases in Afghanistan because McCain follows the Bush-Cheney model of not going after Osama bin Laden. McCain does not heed the advise given to Bush by senior CIA analyst Michael Scheurer, responsible for tracking bin Laden, that “US forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result…it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally”(qtd in Failed States, 23). Indeed.
Afghanistan is in chaos after Karzai loses the election. Attacks by the Taliban on all foreigners, whether military or non-governmental workers, increase.
Pakistan, too, is in chaos, pursuing the Musharraf impeachment. McCain maintains that the military dictator Musharraf is an ally of the U.S. and that he’s been honorable in his pursuit of terrorism; however, Al Qaeda gains unprecedented influence over the Pakistani parliament, finally infiltrating it with political forces sympathetic to their radicalization of Islam.
India gets nervous because Al Qaeda control of Pakistani politics is a threat to their sovereignty. McCain, of course, sees this as a common pattern and he calls forth an alert of strained American military forces.
Israel practices bombing Iran over Iraqui airspace further escalating tensions throughout the Middle East. McCain, like Bush before him, backs Israel’s plans to bomb Iran, though publicly he asks Israel to “cool” their mock military maneuvers.
Throughout the Middle East, even among American supporting moneyed Muslims, there is dismay, an outcry condemning U.S. force , labeling it imperialism.
Europe supports the Middle Eastern outcry and backs away from the U.S.. Even the European wanna be cowboy, Sarkozy, finally pulls French troops from Afghanistan saying that his country had suffered too many causalities amidst NATO chaos.
Meanwhile, in Latin America, an alliance–Chile, Mexico, Columbia and Brazil–manage to isolate Chavez. They pull in the new leftist leader, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. Likewise, these same countries increase their investments in Cuba while the U.S. maintains its current anti-Cuba policies, though countless Americans travel to the Caribbean country via Canada and Mexico.
In Africa, the U.S. builds more military bases while China and the EU make huge monetary investments. Throughout Africa, the attitude is to turn from the U.S. and towards a future that promises creative engagement with those partners willing to invest in infrastructure building, education and science.
Russia laughs at the U.S., extending its control over oil and gas meant for Europe; in a sense, tension rises because the Russian bear is seen as aggressive as the U.S. There is nothing the U.S. can do since it needs Russia.
China grows, increasing its military strength as well; the country’s demands for natural resources are extensive, compelling it to move wide and far across the globe, becoming partner to many regimes, good and bad.
Within two years, McCain’s America is effectively isolated.
I had no idea I would come up with these conclusions; however, following what the senator has been saying, laying out a grid of potential results, leads me to these conclusions. History tells us so; we have no reason to believe otherwise since, as McCain tells us as often as possible, he has experience. This is his experience. Facts are facts.
A McCain victory is a descent into darkness. America finds itself in a state more confusing then it is now.
McCain is not an independent person at all, but someone who is deeply entrenched in vituperative politics. How can he be independent when he is beholding to oil barons, the military and military providers, big business–and the list is endless. John McCain is the extreme opposite; he is a product of the elite system that first pushed him into Annapolis, since he was inadequate intellectually (the same as Bush at Yale), and then enabled his rise through the political structure that rewards those of similar make-up.* McCain is just like everyone else; he’s the same product we’ve had for 8 years.
What is most frightening is that the press doesn’t pick up on this, nor follow the obvious. Mainstream media covers only process, highlighting the “ad” tendencies of each candidate, rather than being responsible–and doing what democracy asks–and putting the candidates’ feet to the fire, asking them relevant questions about how to solve America’s challenges.
Essentially, a McCain victory will lead to a further disenfranchisement of America from the rest of the world. McCain’s narrow vision–held together only by aggression and a shallow open market idealism–leaves America vulnerable to those that are ideologically opposed to this, while then enabling narrow self-interest to manage our affairs of state.
I therefore predict, as I said earlier, the beginnings of an American brain drain. Why stay where reason, humanitarian interests and creativity are not wanted? In a global economy, even Americans can work and study anywhere.
July 26, 2008 § 1 Comment
John McCain is an American hero. We honor his sacrifice. But this is not a qualification for a deep understanding of foreign policy. In fact, McCain’s understanding of the world immediately disqualifies him for being president.
During a CBS interview with Katie Couric, John McCain said, inaccurately, that the surge strategy in Iraq was responsible for the much-touted “Anbar Awakening,” in which Sunni sheiks turned against Al Qaeda, helping in turn to reduce violence in the country. Ilan Goldbenberg said that, “It’s a real misunderstanding of what has happened in Iraq over the past year.” The record firmly establishes the opposite, as reported by Spencer Ackerman and Goldenberg: instead of being caused by the surge, the key signs of the Anbar Awakening occurred not only before that strategy was implemented, but before it was ever conceived.
Traveling in Jordan, McCain said several times that Iran, a predominantly Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, Al-Qaeda. Officials have said that Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq. When pressed, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, intervened and informed the Republican presidential hopeful that the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.
And if this is not enough, McCain said that Iraq was the first major conflict after 9/11. Somehow Afghanistan is not on his radar, following the position—and actions—of the Bush Administration, as devised by Rumsfeld who never saw Afghanistan as a valuable “asset.” Afghanistan is now a mess, used, according to Seymour M. Hersh, “Preparing the Battlefield,” “to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan.”
These are more than gaffes. Given the time elapsed between them and that McCain touts his expertise on all things Iraq and foreign policy in general, what this suggests is a profound lack of knowledge, understanding and insight. The dark side of American political history taints his worldview.
The picture is more frightening. John McCain’s key advisor on Iraq is Henry Kissinger. Christopher Hitchens, in “The Case Against Henry Kissinger,” back in March 2001, writing for Harpers Magazine, outlined a case for legal prosecution of Kissinger “for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture.”
“Thus, I might have mentioned Kissinger’s recruitment and betrayal of the Iraqi Kurds who were falsely encouraged by him to take up arms against Saddam Hussein in 1972-75,” Hitchens tells us, “and who were then abandoned to extermination on their hillsides when Saddam Hussein made a diplomatic deal with the Shah of Iran, and who were deliberately lied to as well as abandoned.”
Hitchens also informs us that, “The conclusions of the report by Congressman Otis Pike still make shocking reading and reveal on Kissinger’s part a callous indifference to human life and human rights.”
The Pike Committee Report was suppressed, following a 246 to 124 vote in the House not to release it. Unending pressure came from the White House. Dick Cheney, rising through the ranks, first joining the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, was then Assistant to the President under Gerald Ford. The future was being devised.
Arguably we began our descent towards the post-America America with the murders of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and when we entered the Vietnam nightmare. The only thing that we learned from this darkest period of our history is that, following Nixon’s lead, the highest office needs to be more Machiavellian, merciless.
The Dark Angel born from Nixon and Kissinger is Cheney. The nation changed then—and we’ve not recovered. Thus began our unraveling. Bush and McCain are merely accolades of these dark forces—they don’t know better.
The Bush Administration will be defined in history as the last breath of this dark and foreboding period, the last gasp of a wildly ambitious and violent period.
It is amazing, though not surprising, that Obama’s visits to the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe, in some circles, is being critiqued with cynical reason. Cynicism is the dominant operating mode in contemporary culture. This is voiced most emphatically when hope is in the air, when the changes we’ve undergone become increasingly more visible and when the American people begin to embrace these changes and are willing and able to put their shoulders to the wheel.
Peter Sloterdijk, in his Critique of Cynical Reason, states that “Cynicism is enlightened false consciousness. It is that modernized, unhappy consciousness, on which enlightenment has labored both successfully and unsuccessfully.” It is what prompts conservative writer David Brooks, in “Playing Innocent Abroad,” his critique of Obama’s Germany visit, to suggest that “The golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more.” This is cynicism to the core and a lack of understanding—or denial—of the historical evolution of the darkest period of American history and how Americans everywhere, and people throughout the world, are asking for a sign of hope.
Our hard choice is not that hard at all: do we continue with the methods, systems and policies that have evolved from secrecy, the violation of human rights, and violence, particularly when waged against the innocent, or do we embrace a rhetoric that is hopeful, promising and designed to ask us to collaborate and cooperate?
Two types of people will vote for John McCain. Those that when they look into a mirror will repress the reality that the Bush Administration—and McCain—decided that bending the Constitution and lying to the American public was a means to a political end, the legacy of Nixon. And those that will vote for McCain because they believe that the world is ours for the taking, and it is our right, as it has been all along, to conquer and take for the lifestyle we live, the legacy of Kissinger, Rumsfeld and Cheney.
Everywhere Obama traveled, the hunger of the people is for reconciliation. Reconciliation cannot begin unless we, the American people, take control of this election and hold the deliverer of the most hopeful message accountable for his promises. Only then will we be able to face our sins; only then will we be able to begin the difficult journey towards reconciliation.