Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Yes, let's have a war for oil!

I've had it up to my whatzit with huge SUVs whizzing up and down the freeway next to me, proudly sporting "no war for oil" bumperstickers. Let's get beyond the obvious irony of these messages appearing on cars that suck up oil with the speed of light. Let's take it to the next level. Why no war for oil? The drivers would undoubtedly say that a war for oil is wrong because some of Bush's former oil cronies might make money. Put in that simplistic way, it really does sound awful: how can we spill American blood and use billions of tax payer dollars just to enrich Bush's friends? But that, of course, is not what's really happening. Like it or not, we have an oil based economy. Oil provides the electricity that runs everything -- everything -- in our world. I can't think of a single aspect of modern American life that is not dependent on electricity. Oil also provides the fuel for the airplanes, trucks and trains that transport all American goods from here to there. From the second Americans wake in the morning in their beds whose manufacturer and shipping was in some way dependent on oil, until they put their heads on their pillows in those same beds, they are using oil. The realities of American life, therefore, mean that a "no oil" policy would spell the end of America as we know it. We would return return to a pre oil-based economy. And I wonder how many Americans really relish the thought of returning to a world of horse and buggies, whale oil lamps, wood fires, and scratching in the dirt outside their back door to provide food from subsistence farming. Even if one doesn't get so apocalyptic, an expensive, unstable oil supply is still a huge problem. An affordable, stable oil supply not only enriches the oil men, it enriches everyone. It allows businesses to function more cheaply, encouraging more businesses and more innovation, and it allows ordinary men and women to take their money out of their gas tanks and their electricity bills, and invest it in other parts of our economy. If you don't believe how important oil is and always has been, and don't recognize that oil benefits many more people than just the oil men who make it flow, take a few hours to read Daniel Yergin's Prize : The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power. It's a 1993 book, but the underlying principles haven't changed -- since its discovery, control of oil shores up economies and strengthens military might. (One of the most amazing things to me about the book was how the German's desperate need for oil drove a significant part of their military strategy during WWII.) Please don't think that I believe it's a good thing that we have an oil based economy. I'd love it if we could effectively harness other energy sources and wean ourselves off of oil. But the fact is that, in the here and now, we are entirely dependent on oil, and it's good American policy to make sure that America has a safe and cheap oil supply. Whether that supply will eventually run out and whether that supply is changing our planet's atmosphere are different questions entirely. They need to be addressed too, but our ultimate response to those issues does not change America's immediate political, security and military needs. So I'll end where I began -- yes, let's have a war for oil!