Watching anti-government protests in the Middle East escalating and now spreading out to Yemen and the Sudan on the CBS Evening News tonight. Where it was also reported that foreign journalists were actually attacked and even detained. All of this because the Egyptian government does not wish the rest of the world to know of its internal turmoil by live broadcast. Even as they had also shut down cell phone service and the internet in an effort to control whether the outside world should even learn of this. Communist China and the former Soviet Union also employed information control. Which definitely would argue that the Mubarak government went from authoritarian to totalitarian to say the least. But even if the unrest was never televised, fleeing Americans from Egypt would still tell the tale of all that was going on. So one way or another, the word would still get out. Only the Egyptian populace would not know about it. Oh yeah, information control, totalitarian style.
But just as importantly, was the self-serving instant analysis that sounded more like an apocalyptic what about oil and gas prices should this sort of instability spread throughout the Middle East. And this regardless of the fact that the various OPEC countries are certainly wealthy enough to buy off dissent. As was reported. But because of the instability so the apologists for various energy companies were prepared to declare, oil and gas prices would surely rise. And further, American interests (because of energy naturally) would be damaged. Even though America’s pro-democracy values would surely be enhanced. Uh, ever hear of necessity being the mother of all inventions? We have the technology to move away from fossil fuels and cease completely any form of dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the sort of instability currently on-going that could conceivably disrupt its international distribution. President Obama had already disclosed in his state of the union address a desire to see electric cars replacing those gas guzzlers currently tooling around on the nation’s roads. Why not? If we did indeed replace gasoline powered rides with something that worked on alternative energy then why would we even have to worry about any disruption of Middle Eastern oil. About the only people who would suffer that disruption would be big oil itself.
Capitalism is one of the driving factors for innovation in this country, government is actually another. Instead of big oil and their paid apologia whining about what a disruption in oil supplies would do to “this nation’s interests,” they should instead start thinking long term. “Hey great idea, the prez suggested electric cars, how about if we move that along faster than his expectations of when we should have millions of electric cars on the road. Like how soon can we move on this and big oil redesigns itself as big battery instead?” Maybe America’s interests shouldn’t be tied to making nice to dictators like Mubarak out of economic convenience but rather recognizing that we do have all this technology lying around why not simply make use of it? This is where America’s interests really should lie. But don’t expect CBS Evening News to discuss that. Or the paid apologia either. Now there is an interesting conundrum. In a crisis like this and the possible outcome of it, we can’t take a look at what we have now and say hey! we can do this instead? Of course we can. If we as a nation haven’t lost our innovative edge then yes, we can actually move away from this dependence on foreign oil.
Mubarak merely represented a status quo of considerable convenience. His nation offered the U.S. something politically and economically. And the stability created by his dictatorial rule was a boon to commercial interests quite beyond Egypt recognizing Israel in the geopolitical interests. But then, you could say the same about the late and not so great Saddam Hussein. We had a “marriage of convenience” with that dictator too just because of our commercial interests in his oil fields. Never mind what he did to his own people. And just who drives much of our foreign policy that makes it possible to “dance with the devil” (any number of them) when it comes to powerful and brutal dictators? Well, those with an expense account large enough to buy American politicians. And certainly, an expense account large enough to slow down progress away from where they made their billions? Precisely, fossil fuel. But, times change.
Fossil fuel has a limited shelf life. The countries in which it is found can find themselves at war, facing civil turmoil such now exists in the countries above mentioned. The oil can simply run out. Instead of desperately tying themselves to the “technologies of the past” (reference Obama’s state of the union), there is absolutely nothing wrong with moving forward with the technologies of the future. The captains of industry could invest their billions in new technologies and move away from that dependence driven “capitalism” that was very much on public display this evening, 3 February 2011. They were certainly given plenty of taxpaid subsidies to do that. So, let me get this straight, greed bollixes the capacity to think and invent? Buying politicians in order to assure private profit in the billions regardless of the cost on the geopolitical scale is a preferred corruption to thinking about tomorrow? There are many ways in which the technologies of the past can cease to be effective. Become out-dated. Must be junked out of necessity. The wake up call that is currently taking place in the Middle East would call for changes in what we do. What we drive. How we power our homes and offices. Crisis? What crisis? Remember World War ll and the crisis that the Nazi government created as to commercial interests? Did American captains of industry stand around whining and wringing their hands about what was taking place? Actually, no, they didn’t. They found ways to work out the problems that Nazi U Boats created when they literally closed down shipping lanes by blowing up commercial freighters. Well, then we have the means to do that now. And that the current captains of industry can simply quit sitting on their fat asses and recognize that capitalism doesn’t have to be dependent on stable dictatorships and be returned to its roots: Innovation.
In closing, I’d have to say that what was described on CBS Evening News tonight, wasn’t about “capitalism,” or even “America’s interests.” Plain and simply, it was the paid apologia providing us a vivid but rather pathetic description of oil company bosses who are seeing their wealth evaporate in an instant if the civil unrest spreading more widely still across the Middle East. Reminds me of what is found in Revelations: Of those who stood far out to sea. Crying out about that nation wherein they had made (or hoped to make) their wealth. It is fallen. It is by no means accurate as to the retelling. But if the “nation” in this case is all of the Middle East and the current turmoil there, then shall we put it bluntly that it is a sign of the times? Then America’s interests can no longer be dependent on a few men making wealth by hook or by crook in an ancient land known to always be politically and religiously unstable. And, if those same men don’t wish to move on and invest in new technologies, then by all means, someone else can and should.