Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death) - 3

A resting place on the sands of time
We must not take the remaining fossil fuels from the Earth where they were pronounced deadly and buried long ago.

So says the science and so says the math calculations (Leave Fossil Fuels Buried to Prevent Climate Change).

Nevertheless, "The United States is on top of the world in terms of energy production, President Barack Obama said during his sixth State of the Union ... “We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet,” he said during his Jan. 20 address. “And today, America is number one in oil and gas" (Politifact, SOTU).

This is yet another declaration that the United States is doing what it should not be doing.

Not only that, it is yet another declaration that the United States is doing that obvious wrong "better" than any other nation because we are exceptional.

This is what makes people all over the world ask Americans travelling abroad some evolving questions:
In my long nomadic life, I’ve had the good fortune to live, work, or travel in all but a handful of countries on this planet. I’ve been to both poles and a great many places in between, and nosy as I am, I’ve talked with people all along the way. I still remember a time when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world for way too many reasons to go into here.

That’s changed, of course. Even after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I still met people -- in the Middle East, no less -- willing to withhold judgment on the U.S. Many thought that the Supreme Court’s installation of George W. Bush as president was a blunder American voters would correct in the election of 2004. His return to office truly spelled the end of America as the world had known it. Bush had started a war, opposed by the entire world, because he wanted to and he could. A majority of Americans supported him. And that was when all the uncomfortable questions really began.

In the early fall of 2014, I traveled from my home in Oslo, Norway, through much of Eastern and Central Europe. Everywhere I went in those two months, moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.

Then recently, I traveled back to the “homeland.” It struck me there that most Americans have no idea just how strange we now seem to much of the world. In my experience, foreign observers are far better informed about us than the average American is about them. This is partly because the “news” in the American media is so parochial and so limited in its views both of how we act and how other countries think -- even countries with which we were recently, are currently, or threaten soon to be at war. America’s belligerence alone, not to mention its financial acrobatics, compels the rest of the world to keep close track of us. Who knows, after all, what conflict the Americans may drag you into next, as target or reluctant ally?

So wherever we expatriates settle on the planet, we find someone who wants to talk about the latest American events, large and small: another country bombed in the name of our “national security,” another peaceful protest march attacked by our increasingly militarized police, another diatribe against “big government” by yet another wannabe candidate who hopes to head that very government in Washington. Such news leaves foreign audiences puzzled and full of trepidation.
(The Life and Death of Bright Things - 2). Meanwhile, our military is having its way with other countries by playing other deadly games within their "sovereign" borders:
That blood-soaked episode was, depending on your vantage point, an ignominious end to a year that saw U.S. Special Operations forces deployed at near record levels, or an inauspicious beginning to a new year already on track to reach similar heights, if not exceed them.

During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries -- roughly 70% of the nations on the planet -- according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This capped a three-year span in which the country’s most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises. And this year could be a record-breaker. Only a day before the failed raid that ended Luke Somers life -- just 66 days into fiscal 2015 -- America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014’s total.

Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans. Unlike the December debacle in Yemen, the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny. In fact, aside from modest amounts of information disclosed through highly-selective coverage by military media, official White House leaks, SEALs with something to sell, and a few cherry-picked journalists reporting on cherry-picked opportunities, much of what America’s special operators do is never subjected to meaningful examination, which only increases the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.
“The command is at its absolute zenith ..."
(Tom Dispatch -Nick Turse, emphasis added). Why would it be appropriate for "a peace and life loving government" to be the number one in all things life and peace threatening and destroying?

Some Americans have cautioned about being so cavalier with death:
"Now I notice a very odd point. All other religions in the world, as far as I know them, are either nature religions, or anti-nature religions ... But here is something quite different. Here is something telling me - well, what? Telling me that I must never ... say that death does not matter."
(Essays on Theology and Ethics, C.S. Lewis, page 86). The title of today's post says it all ("Confusing Life with Death") doesn't it?

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.


  1. Evidently there is a movie out about SOCOM and JSOC: (link)

  2. "US Senate fails to accept humanity's role in climate change, again" (Guardian)