More advice for Bush - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 09-01-2005, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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More advice for Bush

This isn't too long, and Babcock makes some interesting points. Tangentially, I particularly enjoyed the bumper-sticker reference.

Oil and the Fate of Empires
by Michael A. Babcock
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 7:49 PM PDT
The Examiner (San Francisco)

Last week the grieving mother camped outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas repeated the old liberal charge that Iraq is "all about oil." Cindy Sheehan demanded a meeting with the president-which would be her second, and would be exactly two more meetings than most grieving parents have been granted. The president's response was to appear before reporters and acknowledge once again the brave sacrifice of our troops. And then he went bicycle riding.

It was the right response.

The president has never seemed especially bothered by the "blood for oil" charge. He has always been able to brush off political stunts with a confidence that looks to his critics like arrogance. I like the confidence, but I'd like some thoughtfulness and candor about oil as well.

On the left, oil has become a staple of sound bites, anti-war placards, and bumper stickers on old, gas-guzzling Saabs and Volvos. The word is now shorthand for imperialism, greed, wastefulness and the "red state" American way of life. Merely mention the word and all these evils are evoked-without the inconvenience of producing reasoned arguments that are strung together with subordinate conjunctions. On the right, oil is an eccentric great-uncle who's filthy rich-but also a little filthy. No one wants to talk about him in polite company.

So we either shout about oil, or we shut up about it.

It would be refreshing to hear the president try directly rejecting the notion that Iraq is all about oil and explaining why fighting about oil is not an inherently evil thing. Instead, he's obliged to tell us (because the political realities demand it) that Iraq is all about freedom and democracy and terrorism. These are fine ideals and noble sentiments, but they don't fill up our gas tanks and make our economy hum.

At a time when oil is pushing $70 a barrel, the president should tell us the whole truth. Our post-World War II fixation on the Middle East, though complex and always changing, has much to do with our long-range economic survival. And that's okay. We have every right to survive. We have every right to fight for oil, just like ancient Rome had every right to fight for grain.

Consider the Roman example. For centuries, Rome's national security policy was shaped by the availability of cheap grain from its "breadbasket" in North Africa. Bread had become a highly subsidized public commodity, one of the entitlements of Roman citizenship — kind of like filling up your convertible for 29 cents a gallon. Every Roman emperor knew that free bread could be doled out to the masses only when sea routes were protected and political stability in the African provinces was maintained. By the time Rome fell in the late fifth century, it had lost its breadbasket and could no longer feed itself.

The Roman pattern suggests that we may at some point in the future be faced with fighting a real war about oil. The rapidly growing economies of China and India are slurping up more of the world's resources, and it's just a matter of time before our interests will collide. And then we can set aside the wordplay and call it what it is: a real war about oil. Not these phony "wars about oil" that exist only in the political imagination and rhetorical excesses of left-wing protesters.

That's why the president should break this odd political taboo that has turned oil into an epithet of shame. He should tell us flat-out that wars for oil might be worth fighting. Of course, if we can throw democracy and freedom in for good measure, then so much the better. But we must assert our right to protect our economic interests even as we pursue stable, clean, alternative fuels for the future.

It would be a risky experiment in candor for the president to do this — I don't recommend running it by Karl Rove. But at least we would have something new to talk about at the gas pump.

Michael A. Babcock, Ph.D., has more to say about the fate of empires in his book "The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun." He is an associate professor of humanities at Liberty University and may be reached at
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 09-01-2005, 02:28 PM
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RE: More advice for Bush

Yep, political suicide for sure. However, he is moving towards that reason finally, because it does happen to be the truth and it's becoming harder to hide.

At the naval base, Bush declared, ''We will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure" from Al Qaeda and its forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab alZarqawi.

''If Zarqawi and [Osama] bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. ''They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

On the other hand, it's rather hypocritical for a nation supposedly founded on Christian principles to make wars of aggression to plunder other nation's resources.

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