I’m stuck on a little problem at work, trying to import a data set that won’t even do me the courtesy of kicking, screaming, throwing its arms and legs across the portal, and mutating irreparably on its way in. Instead, it sits grumpily in the file directory, taking up a lot of space, and ignoring each plea (“command” implies too strongly that I retain some degree of control over this process) that I type.
So I took a break and scanned headlines for a few minutes. This one caught my eye:“Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision”… Oh, come on! I don’t have time to do the googling, but how many experts can we remember warning that this is exactly the kind of government the Iraqis were likely to elect?
…in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base — and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy — $300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say.
And speaking of Iran, I made myself read Thomas Friedman again this week, instead of waiting for someone to tell me it was worthwhile. And darned if I don’t agree with him again!:
(Excerpt) By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit’s automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is – as others have noted – financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?
The neocon strategy may have been necessary to trigger reform in Iraq and the wider Arab world, but it will not be sufficient unless it is followed up by what I call a “geo-green” strategy.
As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.
What would that buy? It would buy reform in some of the worst regimes in the world, from Tehran to Moscow. It would reduce the chances that the U.S. and China are going to have a global struggle over oil – which is where we are heading. It would help us to strengthen the dollar and reduce the current account deficit by importing less crude. It would reduce climate change more than anything in Kyoto. It would significantly improve America’s standing in the world by making us good global citizens. It would shrink the budget deficit. It would reduce our dependence on the Saudis so we could tell them the truth. (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) And it would pull China away from its drift into supporting some of the worst governments in the world, like Sudan’s, because it needs their oil. Most important, making energy independence our generation’s moon shot could help inspire more young people to go into science and engineering, which we desperately need.
Sadly, the Bush team won’t even consider this. It prefers cruise missiles to cruise controls. We need a grass-roots movement. Where are college kids these days? I would like to see every campus in America demand that its board of trustees disinvest from every U.S. auto company until they improve their mileage standards. Every college town needs to declare itself a “Hummer-free zone.” You want to drive a gas-guzzling Humvee? Go to Iraq, not our campus. And an idea from my wife, Ann: free parking anywhere in America for anyone driving a hybrid car.
But no, President Bush has a better project: borrowing another trillion dollars, which will make us that much more dependent on countries like China and Saudi Arabia that hold our debt – so that you might, if you do everything right and live long enough, get a few more bucks out of your Social Security account.
The president’s priorities are totally nuts.