Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-George Santayana (HT: Wikiquote)
America now faces a typical conundrum that has plagued all of our recent Presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower all the way forward to President Barack Obama. We depend upon the Middle East for much of the energy that provides our motive power. As a result of this debilitating dependence upon people who hate us and practice a system of ethics and morals totally alien to our own, we are increasingly compromised and forced into courses of action that do not benefit our national commonweal. If we produce enough of our own energy, while curbing our domestic consumption, we can break this cycle of self-sabotage. If we don’t break the cycle, every US President going forward will wage his own, pointless version of a Punic War in Western Asia. I describe the current state of play below.
It wasn’t a warm, sunny 2 of February last Tuesday, but it probably should have been. Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, had taken to the Editorial Page of The Washington Post to describe the current state of affairs in that country.
The situation in Iraq has taken a very dangerous turn. Events there in recent days are reminiscent of those that led to virtual civil war in 2006 and resulted in the need for a surge in U.S. troop levels, a new strategy and very heavy fighting. Indeed, the places where the violence has erupted are eerily familiar, as many were strongholds of al-Qaeda in Iraq at the outset of the surge, before the spread of the Awakening movement that fostered reconciliation between disaffected Sunni Arabs and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The recent events come on top of increasing incidents of horrific attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq, with last month seeing the largest losses in years — and they take place against a backdrop of increasingly serious political discord.
Hear the urgency in his pleas. See the fires of discord burn yet anew in The Middle East. And it’s not just Iraq. The National Journal describes our failed and cynical policy with respect to the ongoing Civil War in Syria.
Obama ran and won on ending the Iraq war and has never had an interest in starting one in neighboring Syria. Neither, for that matter, have U.S. allies Jordan and Israel. For two years, Obama and the Israelis and Jordanians have calculated that Syria's regime--led by Bashir Assad--would cave to outside pressure and not choose ruination for his country's cities, its history, and its people. Assad has not caved. He has hunkered down and fought. This decision did not come without less-appreciated strategic advantages for the U.S. and its allies. There is a very cold and practical analysis of these advantages within the White House, and it has in significant ways influenced Obama's policy.
So the Middle East is nothing but the typical glum, foreboding, fratricidal suck-hole of deranged humanity it has always been since Flavius Josephus chronicled the mass crucifixions that occurred after Titus sacked Jerusalem back in the 1st Century AD. Our two forays into Iraq have gained us nothing more than what Rome gained from its first two Punic Wars. The threat remains and recurs every time we try to turn around and walk away from it. We keep doing the same thing over again and expect a different result.*
Yet the good news here is that we have a valid alternative. We have had this opportunity for some time. The United States does not have to depend heavily enough on The Middle East for its motive power to be captive to its extremes and its tragic ideological and religious foibles. We see in Wyoming and example of just how much natural wealth the United States actually has at its own disposal.
Governor Matt Mead announced today that Wyoming will mine its ten billionth ton of coal in May. “This is a significant achievement for our state and country. Coal mining has provided thousands of jobs in Wyoming over the last 150 years, all the while fueling America’s economy,” Governor Mead said. “Coal has helped make America great because it is an affordable and reliable source of energy. It keeps the lights on in our homes and powers America’s industries.”
Coal is not the only industry that the US enjoys in abundance. North Dakota enjoys a veritable gold rush in Petroleum due to the recent discovery of vast deposits that are now recoverable via hydraulic fracking. The Atlantic Wire explains below.
The United States government somewhat underestimated the amount of oil and natural gas in North Dakota and Montana. Turns out, there's three times as much we used to think. At the end of last year, North Dakota's blistering oil economy was finally showing signs of slowing down. This new data suggests the state may just have been catching its breath — and that data may still be too low. Compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, the new estimates are stunning. There may be as many as 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's roughly the same amount of oil as would fit in 1.9 trillion cans…
Some critics argue that these are all dirty jobs – the sort of rough and difficult scut-work that Americans no longer have the testicular fortitude to man up and perform anymore. They are jobs that Americans just won’t do. This canard has been subjected to analysis from recent US census data.
Of the 472 civilian occupations, only six are majority immigrant (legal and illegal). These six occupations account for 1 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Moreover, native-born Americans still comprise 46 percent of workers even in these occupations. Many jobs often thought to be overwhelmingly immigrant (legal and illegal) are in fact majority native-born:
o Maids and housekeepers: 51 percent native-born
o Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 58 percent native-born
o Butchers and meat processors: 63 percent native-born
o Grounds maintenance workers: 64 percent native-born
o Construction laborers: 66 percent native-born
o Porters, bellhops, and concierges: 72 percent native-born
o Janitors: 73 percent native-born
The point of this being, Americans are able and willing to perform the work necessary to significantly reduce our energy dependence upon the Middle East. Post the jobs and Americans will do them. Free up the resources, and Americans will go get them. Reduce our dependence upon the Middle East, and another generation of our people may not have to watch our sons and daughters die there.
The Greek Historian Herodotus once said the following:
In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.
We, in Modern America have the resources to stop the ongoing American tragedy of pointless warfare in the Middle East. We can end this not-so-funny remake of the movie Groundhog Day. It is far better to dig natural resources out of the ground than it is to bury our next generation of children in the ground over some pathetic, and pointless fight in the Middle East. Only through increased energy exploration and production here in America can we make this happen.
*-Crazy, I know