Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seeking a Cure

America needs a twelve-step program. We are addicted to looking at the world through the cracked lens of an ideology that died with the Soviet Union. One symptom of our addiction is the need for an enemy, any enemy. If we aren’t threatened by someone or something, we feel naked and exposed.

Over the decades, we have accepted a state of heightened anxiety as the norm. The result is a diabolical feedback loop in which we seek to assuage our anxiety by building up our military-industrial complex. Yet the more military hardware we amass, the more anxious we feel; so we add even more hardware in the hope that we will finally feel secure in our chronic insecurity, which we never do.

And, our media is ever willing to feed our fears since doing so boosts ratings and circulation. Today’s Times contained two items guaranteed to keep us on our toes. It seems Iran launched a missile capable of reaching Israel and Europe. Given the nuclear armaments stockpiled by both Israel and Europe, Iran would have to be brain dead to launch an attack. But then, when has reason ever been allowed to get in the way of anxiety? This calls for another Missile Defense System!

The second item reveals the shocking fact that 1 in 7 released detainees join the jihad. Given the treatment the suffered in detention, that figure shows a remarkable restraint on the part of the world’s Muslims.

Jihad is such as lovely buzz word. It’s much more compressed and alien sounding than Communism. It’s only a matter of time before a Beltway hack coins the neologism, Jihadism, which would make as much sense as Warism.

Of course, there is a metanarrative at work that can be described in one word: oil. It’s running out and we want to control what’s left of it, and being addicted to enemies and arms, our knee-jerk solution is to control it militarily.

It is an old saw that in discussing military matters, amateurs focus on strategy while experts focus on logistics. From a logistical point of view, the idea of America controlling the world’s oil supply militarily is a pipe dream. We could only do so by maintaining a long and very vulnerable supply line, and we’d burn a hell of a lot of fuel doing so. The current military rate of consumption is 3.5 million gallons of oil each day.

The Chinese, on the other hand, had the good sense to dump their ideology. In doing so, they have discovered that it is a hell of a lot cheaper, and burns hell of a lot less fuel, to fly trade delegations around the globe to ink contracts for future oil deliveries and oil field development.

China has gas and oil contracts with Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba, along with pipeline deals with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The bulk of China’s oil imports come from Africa and it has interests in Burma, Vietnam and Malaysia.

All of this without firing a shot.

A congressional study groused that the Chinese contracts come with ”none of the pesky human rights conditions, good governance requirements, approved-project restrictions and environmental quality regulations that characterize US and other Western government investments.” Our missionary zeal dies hard.

China gets the oil, while we get a lot of flag-draped coffins and an ever-deepening addiction to enemies and firepower.

--Case Wagenvoord


Suzan said...


Good one.

A new missile gap perhaps?

Now, who will start the bidding?


But then, when has reason ever been allowed to get in the way of anxiety? This calls for another Missile Defense System!

Case Wagenvoord said...

Bidding? That's so yesterday. Now we just hand them a blank, signed check. It saves paperwork.