Bush's Politics of Fear: Access to Energy (Oil) Resources

“Knowledge is the antidote to fear.” Emerson

If there is something that Americans fear in equal or greater measure than the prospect of physical harm inflicted domestically by terrorists, it’s the danger of those gasoline pumps going dry… or the price of gasoline reaching unaffordable levels.

America’s current geopolitical tinkering in the Middle East, including Iraq’s invasion, is not viewed by everyone in the US with the same eyes. While some Americans may condone the actions on the basis (or rationalization) of selfless idealism, a reaction to tyranny via forceful liberation-democracy; others, perhaps a substantial majority, do condone the actions for much simpler and self-serving economic reasons.

Although present and past administrations in Washington have always abstained from publicly acknowledging any US involvement, political or military, in affecting both control and distribution of the planet’s economic resources, Americans have always suspected the government’s meddling. But the involvement did seem beneficial in the past, often resulting in lower prices for the consumer, whether in purchasing bananas or gasoline. And to the American consumer, that wasn’t such a bad thing.

It’s difficult to think of any world events which might affect the price of bananas… not that their availability or price would make much difference in our lives. But that’s not the case with oil. At three different periods during the last three decades, both our nation’s economy and our lives have been jolted, if slightly, because of a real or anticipated shrinkage in oil supply. The so-called laws of supply and demand, “enforced” by the actions of both OPEC and the petroleum industry, and little or no governmental oversight, did serve to help lighten our pockets while instilling our minds with fear.

It has always been a great feeling of pride and privilege for Americans to be able to purchase gas for their automobiles at one-third the cost paid by Europeans and other first world people. Unfortunately, someone forgot to underline for us the reason why that is. One would doubt that it is our manifest destiny “to deserve” cheap gas, not when the US barely produces one-third of what it consumes. A more obvious reason might be the persistent ignorance and lack of mettle in our politicians always ready to maintain a false sense of affordability… by their unwillingness to impose a stiff but necessary tax, as Europeans and others have done. An unpopular tax, yes; but a tax that would have funded more efficient modes of transportation while encouraging needed conservation as the search went on for technological breakthroughs for new forms of energy.

Lack of a well-defined national energy policy is coming back to haunt an America with a laissez-faire attitude in economics, particularly in energy matters. But… could it be that Americans don’t lack an energy policy at all but have had one in place all along, perhaps unwritten and undeclared, yet one by which the nation operates… a “default” policy of sorts?

There are times when certain indicators might seem to give credence to theories which would otherwise be deemed conspiratorial. The default policy followed by the Bush administration is one of those, I am afraid.

The 1911 break-up of the Standard Oil Trust seems to have come full circle since then, with the same corporate DNA appearing in a handful of oil multi-nationals. A cartel that is alive and well and ready to take effective control of massive reserves of oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea and other parts of Central Asia. This spectacular multi-trillion dollar feat would only be doable, however, with the aid of a superpower.

Enter the White House “Petroleum Club” and the “War Department” at the Pentagon. What better way to neutralize Russia and any future aspirations it might have for a reconveyance of its past hegemony in Central Asia ? Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan may seem as distant former Soviet republics to the geographically-challenged, but so were Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only does Central Asia represent a trillion dollar bonanza for Big Oil, and those who lobby their cause, but a way to establish ideal outposts (military bases) for the empire. And all of this can be done by the neocon-curia under the guise of fighting terrorism. Could the pieces of the puzzle fit any better than this?

Added bonus: securing access to enough oil resources so that Americans may feel at ease seeing a large oil-poppy field for their addiction. As for price for that oil… that, the White House will tell you, will be determined by the “free” marketplace, and should not be the government’s concern. For America, now running an average monthly trade deficit of $20 billion on oil alone, the path to national bankruptcy is now speedily being paved… all we need to do is make sure there’s some gas left in the tanks of our cars so that we may all get there. Will the world community be more lenient with us in “our bankruptcy” than we have been in recently passed bankruptcy legislation?

But after all is said and done, it isn’t for us that we wish to secure the flow of oil, but for those who are or will become part of our empire. The truth is that our neighbors- Canada, Mexico and Venezuela- could provide us with all our energy needs, and more, if we drafted a sane policy of energy consumption. [They are currently providing the US with over 40% of its imported oil.]

Bush’s politics of fear through ignorance and deceit keep clouding our minds with dangerous perceptions and misconceptions… such as the one, which I recently read in a well-know syndicated column that stated Arabs were getting rich at our expense. The truth in this case, however, is that the combined imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria and Kuwait don’t even add up to 25%. Yet, Americans who have seen the price of gas at the pump go up $1 dollar per gallon, see that dollar, or perhaps as much as 90 cents of it, lining Arabs’ pockets… and providing funding for madrasas. Truth-in-telling, after analyzing the cost breakdown to produce and sell a gallon of gasoline in the US, and applying the “Arab component” (producer profit) to total US consumption, would put the Arab “profit” at perhaps 8 cents, not 90 cents, per gallon pumped. Just like Titus Livy said, “We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”