Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, July 13, 2007

War By Other Means

Biofuels could be part of the war on terror, if we could learn to endure the environmentalist BS and political pandering that politicians engage in.

I count myself among those who do not take anthropogenic (man-made) global warming all that seriously. Recent predictions are far less apocalyptic than those of just a year ago, and a new school of thought attributes most global warming to solar activity and the resultant reduction in cloud cover. And even if we are responsible for global warming, who’s to say that we’re not actually making the world a better place. I personally find the world too cold most of the year.
Although, I would have to say that I take global warming just as seriously as Al Gore, John Kerry, and Robert Kennedy Jr. put together. More on that later.
Nevertheless, I would gladly join hands with all the aforementioned greenies, even Al Gore himself, to wean the United States from foreign oil. I’m not worried about carbon dioxide. For me, it’s about starving our enemies of the hard currency they need to wage war against us. And so I am willing to set aside my free market, libertarianism on this one commodity in the name of national defense. I consider it fighting war by other means. If we spent a few tens of billions of dollars subsidizing biofuels, we could purchase some peace. Call it surge light.
It’s not as though the big oil companies don’t enjoy government subsidies. Aside from favorable tax laws, big oil depends upon big military to keep the oil flowing from our enemies’ oil fields. Years ago, I read an analysis that calculated that keeping oil flowing from the Middle East added about $60 billion per year to our military budget. That number is certainly much higher today and likely to rise. If that number is $100 billion today, then might we consider investing about half that number to undermine our enemies’ economies and thereby win some big, bloodless battles?
The old cliché reads that armies are always fighting the last war. This is certainly true in that our strategies are informed by our experience. And while we have fought this latest war by fairly conventional means, with bullets and bombs, we have also employed a new tactic of nurturing and encouraging democracy and capitalism in the heart of enemy territory. Islamic fundamentalism recognizes the threat that enlightenment presents and has made Iraq the main battlefield. Osama bin Laden himself has declared freedom and democracy anathema to Islamic fundamentalism.
But, there is another strategy that has so far attracted too little attention, and that is severing the enemy’s economic lifeline – oil. For example, Saudi Arabia’s oil money underwrites 90% of the world’s Islamic “charities” and other Islamic institutions. The mosques and schools it funds espouse the same Wahabi doctrine that informs Al Qaida’s interpretation of the Koran. While liberals blame George Bush for radicalizing Islam, it is in fact our “friends” the Saudis who export Wahabiism around the globe. The day that the world no longer buys Saudi Arabia’s oil will be the day that these imams will have to give up teaching hate and get real jobs to pay their rent. My impish fantasy is that these former preachers of hate will find themselves spending 12 hours a day stitching and gluing my Nike running shoes together.
Cutting imported oil out of our economic picture might eventually improve the human rights picture. Although I am not nearly smart enough to connect the dots, the fact remains that oil producing countries are not friendly to human rights. The United States is the world’s tenth largest producer of crude oil. The nine nations ahead of us are all among the most repressive regimes on earth. The likely explanation is that oil revenues allow these governments to maintain a large and loyal military and police that keeps it’s boots on their peoples’ necks. If so, then starving the tyrannies would weaken their grip.
Deep thinkers estimate that we could free ourselves of foreign oil by committing only 7% of our farmland to ethanol production. Advances in cellulosic ethanol production hold out the promise of gaining freedom from fewer acres. There are other steps we could take to free ourselves. Nuclear power is clean, green, and one plant could heat and light a million of Al Gore’s mansions.
But greenies oppose nuclear power, which means that they fear anthropogenic global warming as much as I do.


Bruce Heimbigner said...

Oh my Michael. I agree with all you said and motivations and all. But you need to do some research in to biofuel as currently produced. I too would give up some free market ideals if it was a way to affectively fight our enemies, but unfortunately biofuel production in the US won’t do it. The 7% number is just wrong.

To keep it simple we put as much OR MORE energy in to our food crops as we get out of them. In effect we convert petroleum through the use of solar energy and plants to carbohydrates for human consumption. Corn (the current wonder crop of biofuel) barely produces as many calories in the kernels as we put into the crop in the calories of petroleum (diesel, nitrogen fertilizers, and pesticides). Sugar beets and sugar cane both do much better than corn but we cannot grow sugar cane affectively in much of the US.

IF we had advances cellulosic ethanol production the numbers might work out – but I doubt it – I haven’t done that calculation.

We’d be better off to go to direct conversion of solar energy to electricity. But even that is probably not practical. Check out http://www.pushback.com/ and you’ll find the calculations done by Dr. Bill Wattenburg showing that to produce enough energy to replace all petroleum for the state of California we’d have to completely cover the state of Nevada will solar panels. We use a LOT of energy.

Besides the fact the bio fuel energy balance just doesn’t work out there are a couple problems with this false economy. It will starve millions just as ‘organic’ food production would if all food was produced using ‘organic’ techniques’ (I personally refuse to drink ‘organic’ coffee or buy ‘organic’ food). All these so called alternative energy sources have their own sets of problems and direct solar, wind, and agricultural biofuel all have negative environmental consequences.

I’m certain that the only practical solution to our energy needs is nuclear power which can produce both clean electrical and hydrogen power. In the long term maybe something else will come along, but the US is no longer supporting the kind of basic research or an education system that is likely to produce technological breakthroughs in energy.

I agree the spread Wahabiism around the globe is at the core of the wave of violence/terrorism we currently experience. Nearly the whole globe, not just the US, is responsible because everybody is buying Middle Eastern oil, or from a competitor which simple moves the price up for oil which also benefits the Middle East.

RFKJr. said...




brin said...

no this is some jack-ass who is hell-bent on petitioning Jr. to run for president of the USA.

Apparently s/he is not considering the fact that Jr's past substance abuse issues would seriously debilitate him, not that we haven't gotten past that with our current commander-in-chief it's just that H-word you know?

Another issue I don't think these folks recognize is: like it or not- there are alot of nutbags out there who might take it upon themselves to do something untoward upon Jr. and I doubt very much if they have his expressed permission to engage in this crap to begin with.