Just Say No To Oil: A Ten Year Plan to End
the War on Terrorism
By Lawrence Hagerty, November 13, 2001
It has been a long time since the United
States has experienced such a widespread display of flag-waving
patriotism. I’ve been told that it was like this in the early
days of World War II and again in the months after that war
ended. The only time I have seen anything close to it myself
was when Americans walked on the moon for the first time.
There certainly were a lot of flags waving then. Of course,
that day they were waving in joy. Today they remind us we
are engaged in a “war on terrorism.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing
against displaying the American flag. I do wonder, however,
how many people realize that patriotism requires much more
than driving around town flying a flag from their big automobiles.
Patriotism also requires sacrifice and consuming large quantities
of oil-based products is not very patriotic. Of course, this
isn’t what we are hearing from Washington these days. Their
somewhat convoluted message goes like this: “Don’t panic.
Be alert. Keep spending.” I happen to believe that if the
fundamental values of our society are under attack, as the
president tells us, we are going to be called upon to do much
more than just continue shopping.
Think about what we accomplished in the
1960s with the space program. When President Kennedy first
announced that we were going to send men to the moon, he told
us that we could meet this incredible goal by the end of the
decade. If you recall the sad state of the U.S. space program
at the time, you will remember how impossible this mission
sounded to those who actually understood the magnitude of
the task. Yet he told us that it was our patriotic duty to
do it, and we did. It wasn’t easy, nor was it inexpensive.
What I am about to propose is a far more modest objective
than sending humans to the moon.
As you probably have guessed, I am talking
about eliminating our dependence on foreign oil and
then continuing to completely eliminate our dependence
on oil altogether. You might tell me this would be too costly
or “painful,” but you cannot convince me that it is impossible.
After all, we put men on the moon and brought them back. And
we did so in under ten years with no better a technological
starting point than we have today for transitioning to alternative
fuel technologies. There simply is no better strategy for
ending this ill-conceived war on terrorism.
How, you may ask, will eliminating oil
from our gluttonous diet for non-renewable resources end the
war on terrorism. Just look at a map, read a little history,
do the math, and the answer will be clear. The “oil corridor”
in the Middle East contains 75% or more of the world’s known
supply of oil. This is also where (we are told) our most implacable
terrorist foes come from. If you have studied the history
of that region, you are aware of the fact that ever since
the Crusaders first invaded that land over 1,000 years ago
there has been no peace. Our president might see this as the
“first war of the 21st century,” but a lot of people
in the Middle East see it as just another campaign in a very
So let’s finally call an end to this
oil binge we have been on and begin developing new technologies
that don’t require a never-ending supply of oil. What “national
interests” do we have in the Middle East other than the oil
supply? Why else are we spending billions of dollars for our
military to police that part of the world? Isn’t it time to
bring our servicemen and women home and to quit wasting all
that money to protect the interests of the oil industry and
a few wealthy Middle Eastern families? Look at the facts.
The two most powerful men in our government today are former
oil company executives, and now they have the entire U.S.
military at their disposal to protect the interests of the
industry that spawned them. They are doing so, of course,
under the guise of protecting our “national interests.”
Today it is difficult to argue against
the position that protecting the oil supply is in our highest
national interests. Face it, we are hooked on oil. I haven’t
seen any widespread national movements to improve the mileage
on our cars. Where are the tax incentives for installing solar
panels on our houses? Where are the government programs to
build power plants whose electricity comes from renewable
resources? Only a handful of small organizations are working
toward goals like these. And why isn’t everyone involved?
Because we are all oil junkies who got hooked by big businesses
in much the same way they once hooked us on cigarettes.
So let’s all check ourselves into rehab
and begin to kick our oil habit. We should approach this problem
just as we did when we went to the moon. It should become
our nation’s number one priority. Admittedly, there is no
guarantee that by eliminating our dependence on oil and removing
our armed forces from the Middle East that there will be and
end to terrorist acts in the U.S., but this surely would be
a big step in the right direction. I firmly believe that how
we rise to this challenge is how future generations will judge
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