Bodies for Barrels: Betrayal and Energy Dependence

Here’s the essence of our energy policy. Imagine this: you pull into a gas station and tell the attendant to fill up the gas tank. It comes time to pay and the attendant asks “Which of your children do you want to sacrifice in payment.” Which child must die? Ridiculous? How is that different than what we are doing in the Middle East?

The invasion of Iraq, the stationing of our 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, the posting of our troops at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars annually throughout the Middle East is about protecting the oil fields of Saudi Arabia – our so-called ally who has provided funding for most of the terrorist groups that stir anti-American hatred throughout the world.

America invests hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of young people’s lives and mangled bodies each year to make sure each of us can fill up our tank when we need it – bodies for barrels. But what if we had to trade our child (as so many have been called to do) for a full tank of gas?

Wouldn’t we demand an alternative solution like a responsible energy policy that is as important to us as the Manhattan Project was during World War II or putting a man on the moon was in the 60s? I believe we would – and we should.

If it is financially sustainable for our nation to spend what some estimate will be a trillion dollars in the Iraqi War before we’re finished, then why is it so outlandish to expect that we make an equal investment of national and financial resources to energy independence? If we are willing to ask our young people to sacrifice and die or get maimed so we can top off our tanks, then why are we not equally willing to commit our nation to energy independence?

Our nation’s energy vulnerability is an outrageous betrayal by both parties – Democrats and Republicans. In the coming days you will see a frenzy of proposals coming from both Democrats and Republicans in the Congress. These proposals will continue to cascade until the November election and then we’ll go back to business as usual.

These gestures are nothing more than symbolic gestures. The public needs more than symbols from our leaders; we deserve solutions. America has the ingenuity, intellectual infrastructure, spirit and knowledge to come through this crisis as we have others in our history.

Across America there are young minds teeming with ideas that deserve research funding so they can help us end our reliance on foreign energy. There are ideas that will enable us to conserve more energy, get more efficiency out of our engines and industrial enterprises and lead to alternative sources heretofore not even considered.

The missing ingredients are and always have been, leadership, vision, and will. Money follows vision. Our political leaders need to articulate a simple vision and actually mean it – energy independence.

Here’s a start. As Congress currently debates a measure that will provide increased funding for the Iraq War why not adopt a policy that says: “Not one more dollar should be spent on the Iraq War or securing the oil fields and shipping lanes of the world unless an equal dollar is spent on research to secure our energy independence?” If it is important enough to spend a dollar sending a young man or woman to war then it is important enough as a nation to spend an equal dollar eliminating the threat that causes them to lay down their life.

Michael A. Fox | t r u t h o u t  (read more. . .)