Monday, August 14, 2006

On hope (and why I still have some)

JD posted a pessimistic look at the current state of affairs in Israel/Lebanon/Iraq/etc.

Nothing he posted is wrong, and I can't argue with his conclusions. But my Supermodel Wife and I had a discussion on the whole topic, and I came away hopeful that the problem will eventually go away.

My hope stems from the fact that all of the fighting and destruction has at its root oil. Oil is the only reason anybody outside of the Middle East is even interested in the region. Oil is what the warring parties within the Middle East use to fund their machinations (with the possible exception of Israel).

And control of the oil (and thus the source of money and power) is the entire raison d'ĂȘtre for the different warring factions. Sure, we've been told that they're mostly bickering about different religious interpretations of various ancient texts. But obviously in this case, religion is the crystal meth of the masses -- a tool used by those in power to convince people that blowing themselves up with a suicide vest is a good idea.

So, it all comes down to oil. And that's the good news, because sooner or later we won't need oil any longer.

Some people say that we're pretty much out of oil already, that it will only be a couple more decades before oil passes from fossil fuel to folklore.

I think that the last 10 years or so have shown us (particularly Americans) the real danger of being a nation of petroleum junkies, and we're starting to wake up to the importance of finding another source of energy.

Agribusiness conglomerate Cargill, for example, recently announced a plan to build a $40 million biodiesel plant in KC. There are other plans by other companies to build ethanol processing facilities as well.

I know there are doubts about the ability of current biofuels technology to support the current energy consumption of the U.S., and since I'm not an expert, I can't refute those doubts.

But I believe that there will be a confluence of genetic and biofuels technology that will result in the development of genetically modified soybeans or sorghum that will result in greater energy output -- enough to allow us to turn out backs on petroleum oil.

When that happens, nobody will care about the Middle East. The US will have no strategic reason to be there. Without the demand for oil, the power brokers in the area lose their primary source of money. So the warring factions will continue to fight it out amongst themselves, but with less and less money to fund new weapons and violence.

Then we'll be able to move on to different wars and violence.

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  1. Emaw:

    I think you underestimate the extent to which many Christians in America feel a strong attachment to Israel -- who feel, in fact, that protecting it as a homeland for the Jewish people is a mandate from God. Oil has nothing to do with that, but it has a lot to do with the political activities known as the "base." There's a lot of politicians who either (A) share that sentiment or (B) know they got elected by people who share that sentiment. Israel has no meaningful amount of oil that I know of ... and I don't think it's what the Palestinians or Israelis are fighting for.

    I don't disagree that oil is at the root of many struggles in the Middle East. But I think religion -- both inside and outside the region -- also is a strong motivating factor.

  2. Maybe I am underestimating the support of Americans for Israel. But I don't think so. As Dan points out, when it comes to religion, Americans talk a good game but sometimes gloss over the harder parts.

    At any rate, I could see private support for Israel continuing (especially from private Jewish organizations like Hollywood), but official federal support gradually drying up.

    In the end, if there's no strategic reason to sink billions into propping up Israel (or the Saudi royal family for that matter), we won't. The masses can be manipulated into supporting whatever actions are needed.


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