Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Syriana

My wife and I watched the DVD of the film Syriana last evening. As I had heard, it is a rather convoluted and hard to follow story. But, to me at least, there was one rather glaring message to be taken from it: The world of big oil, big politics, greed, war, etc., are all intertwined and very dangerous.

As I have noted, US involvement in Iraq has much less to do with Saddam Hussein, nation building, or the spreading of democracy, than it does with oil. Oil is the resource of the day. Countries all over the world are pretty much willing to do anything to get it, the US included. (At one point in history, briefly, the resource of choice was tulip bulbs. But that's another story.) Bush and the rest are simply lying when they deny that oil is our primary interest in Iraq and much of the rest of the oil producing middle east. It is in the interest of the Bushes, who have long been heavily involved with the oil industry, and many others to maintain a huge demand for oil in this country. Their interest in developing new fuel resources and systems is only proportional to how much they can make out of it. The only way oil will be displaced as the fuel of choice will be when the powers that be are in a position to dominate and control whatever that resource may be.

The great majority of humanity has little or no control over how government and business are run throughout the world. Such power remains with the very few. The Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etal, are at the center of this power structure. Radical muslims and others are seeking a new paradigm. They wish to displace the US - and the west in general - as the ultimate brokers of world power and wealth. The Chinese are waiting in the wings to make a similar move. I personally don't believe that it is necessary for the US to be at the center of power, but at what price will we lose it? Is there any means by which such power and resources can be redistributed and equitably shared throughout the world without major conflagration?

We continue to ignore the lessons of history. Now that the US stands alone as the world's only so called "super-power," we also stand as the largest and most vulnerable target of all others who want to ascend the hill and knock our smug asses off of it. If we don't achieve some level of humility and stop flaunting our supposed superiority in this world, we will find ourselves being bodily thrown from the top of the hill and into the abyss just as happened with the Romans, the Spanish, the Hapsburgs, the Ottomans, and the English among others. They all believed they were exceptional, the chosen of god. When you are at the top, there is nowhere to go but down.

Instead of insisting upon standing alone on the perilous and narrow apex through our military might, we should endeavor to broaden the plateau and invite others to join us. Or perhaps a more apt image is that of the US voluntarily stepping off the mount to join the masses. It may be the only way in which this country might survive - for a bit longer, at least.

All things change. The US is a relatively young country which rose rapidly to the top of the heap. We could fall even quicker and much harder unless we use our current advantage taking the lead in an effort to level the playing field rather than setting ourselves upon an even higher and more unstable perch.

There are those who contend there just are not enough resources to go around. But when something like 2% of the people throughout the world control well over 98% of the world's wealth and resources, that becomes a rather difficult pill to swallow. As long as there are "have nots," the "haves" will always live in peril. Unless people stop promoting narrowly defined agendas - religion, nationalism, race, etc., we are doomed to living in a divisive, deadly competitive world which will always keep the larger proportion of its people trapped in lives of desparation. And now, many such people have 21st century weaponry to use against their perceived oppressers.

Is this the best legacy we can leave our children? All the crap that people of my generation spewed about regarding "peace and love" has disappeared and/or degenerated into the same old greed and lust for power that we supposedly found so objectionable in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Some young people today are taking up the same message , but a great majority are pretty much hypnotized by technology - video games, lap tops, picture phones, text messaging, IPods, etc. I am a believer in the great potential that technology has to offer, but we need to stop being mesmerized by it, and believing technology is the ultimate goal - the end in itself. Technology is simply a means to achieve more, to make life better for everyone. Not just for somebody who has the means to accumulate the most toys.

If a greater number of young people had gotten off of their dead asses and voted as they could have in 2004, GW would have likely been a one term wonder just as his father was. Instead, we are doomed to listen to his dyslexic, inane blather for another 2 plus years. The boredom with which many people in this country - young and old - view politics, voting, etc., may well get us all killed. As it is, we have lost over 2000 of our young men and women and countless thousands of others have died because GW just had to avenge his father's honor, and save the world from Saddam and those dastardly weapons of mass destruction. What a croc. You believe that crap at your own peril.

TLS

8 comments:

Rebecca Lynn said...

Great post Terry!

jazzycat said...

Terry,
You said...
unless we use our current advantage taking the lead in an effort to level the playing field

What do you think got us our current advantage?

Whatever that is would that be what we should export to the rest of the world to level the playing field?

In short should not the rest of the world consider adopting whatever 'it' is that gave us our prospertity?

Jazzycat

Terry S said...

What got us our advantage?

Let me count the ways.

Exploitation of countries - their people and resources.

Interference with foreign sovereignty - promoting and at times taking part in the overthrow of governments, supporting military coups and corrupt, often repressive, totalitarian governments to protect american corporate interests.

Subordination of other countries' interests to our own; assuming that if it's good for the US it's good for everyone.

Do you truly believe that there is no legitimate reason why we are so hated throughout the world? Are we just mis-understood? Is it such a hard pill to swallow that the US is not the embodiment of Goody Two Shoes?

We were not "given" our prosperity. We took it.

In all of the above, the US is no worse than most powerful empires throughout history. But neither are we any better. Given our postion as the "leader of the free world," we should be better. Better than those that came before. But we're not.

Are our actions noted above what we should encourage the rest of the world to adopt in their efforts to achieve prosperity?

TLS

jazzycat said...

Terry,
You said..... We were not "given" our prosperity. We took it.

Do you think maybe capitalism, freedom, strong higher education system, etc. had anything to do with it?

Do you not agree that no country on earth has aided and helped the global community with cash and aid more than the U.S?

What did we do for Japan after WWII? Germany? These were countries that we defeated.

Terry with all due respect I think the hate America first liberal thinking has gotten a foothold in your world view.

Jazzy

jazzycat said...

Terry,
You said..... We were not "given" our prosperity. We took it.

Do you think maybe capitalism, freedom, strong higher education system, etc. had anything to do with it?

Do you not agree that no country on earth has aided and helped the global community with cash and aid more than the U.S?

What did we do for Japan after WWII? Germany? These were countries that we defeated.

Terry with all due respect I think the hate America first liberal thinking has gotten a foothold in your world view.

Jazzy

Terry S said...

Jazzy,

First, yes I am a liberal in most respects. I guess that's been established. I do not apologize for it.

I don't "hate America" first, second or last. Nor do I believe there is anything wrong with a country looking out for its own best interests. All countries with responsible governments have an obligation to do likewise. But neither do I look at the US through rose colored glasses.

Yes, we and other allied countries at the end of WWII made unprecedented efforts in rebuilding Japan and Germany. It was ultimately in our interest to do so, and it did reflect a lesson learned from history. The failure of the victor nations to provide a means for Germany to re-establish itself in the world community in the wake of WWI lead directly to another conflagration in less than 20 years.

But within a few years of war's end, the US started believing far too much in its own press clippings. The publishing of the book "The Ugly American" in the late 50s marked one of the first acknowledgements of our overbearing nature and our meddling in other countries' internal affairs. We were well on our way to becoming an imperialist nation obsessed with security.

While the US has spread a good deal of money and other aid to many parts of the world over the years, with respect to the size of our economy, by some accounts the amount of our aid has been called miserly. Over the same period - say since 1945 - many smaller countries with much smaller economies have put forth proportionally larger sums of foreign aid.

At the same time the US through the efforts of the CIA, the NSA and perhaps other, even more clandestine groups, has been both secretly and at times openly involved in the overthrow of numerous governments - many in south and central america.

We have supported, and continue to support a number of despotic, repressive governments including the Shah's regime in Iran, past and current regimes in Saudi Arabia and other oil rich nations.

I have no arguments regarding our being a "free" society. That is largely what I am here to defend. And while capitalism is not perfect - it has its flaws, its inequities - it outdistances any other economic system yet devised by civilized man. We're not ALL bad.

As to our educational system, it has its flaws as well. As it has evolved, far too many talented, intelligent kids are denied educational opportunities owing largely to a lack of funds.

The US lags far behind other nations in the number of students majoring in the sciences, math or engineering. Many other countries have educational systems superior to ours at all levels. Few developed countries have the large numbers of high school grads who are functionally illiterate as we do here.

Again, I don't hate the US, but I am aware that we have lost a great deal of prestige in the eyes of the world over the last several years. For us to thumb our nose at the world is foolish at best.

TLS

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