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Petraeus! Is Baghdad Burning?

Posted on Jan 12, 2007
Oil Burning
AP / Bassem Daham

Iraqi police officers, assigned to protect oil production and distribution, watch from across the Tigris River as fire and smoke rise from a pipeline blaze after an explosion near Beiji, Iraq, in 2005. The Beiji refinery is the largest in Iraq.

Editor’s note: In this piece, a retired U.S. Special Forces soldier takes an oil-filtered look at Bush’s “surge” plan for Iraq.

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“Jodl!  Is Paris burning?”

—Adolf Hitler
Aug. 25, 1944


The United States makes up about 5 percent of the Earth’s population, but as an aggregate we burn more than 25 percent of its fossil energy.  That’s roughly true of all three main forms of fossil energy—oil, natural gas and coal.


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The coal we get mainly by having West Virginians surrender their mountains, where coal operators now lop the tops off those mountains to get at the seams of coal and dump the rubble into nearby watercourses.  That’s what we do for most of our electricity.  Canada sells us most of the natural gas we use ... nearly 90 percent in fact.

The problem we have is that our nation’s transportation fleet is almost completely dependent on that other store of ancient sunlight, petroleum.  Neither natural gas nor coal can feasibly run fleets of tractor-trailer trucks, trains, airplanes and a quarter-billion passenger vehicles (around 98 million of which are SUVs and larger).  Neither coal nor natural gas can run ships, tanks and attack helicopters either.

The other thing we need oil for is food ... more than people realize.  In Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” he traces the U.S. food chain back to the oil fields through corn, which is now the basis of most of our other foods, then back to the oil field.  It is widely known that each calorie of food consumed in the world today represents an expenditure of 10 calories of fossil energy, but Pollan’s remarks while observing a cattle feed lot, where the beef-on-the-hoof was being force-fed corn produced by Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, are more to the point than any statistical review:

I don’t have a sufficiently vivid imagination to look at my steer and see a barrel of oil, but petroleum is one of the most important ingredients in the production of modern meat, and the Persian Gulf is surely a link in the food chain that passes through this (or any) feedlot.  Steer 534 started his life part of a food chain that derived all of its energy from the sun, which nourished the grasses that nourished him and his mother.  When 534 moved from ranch to feedlot, from grass to corn, he joined an industrial food chain powered by fossil fuel—and therefore defended by the U.S. military, another never counted cost of cheap food.

Empty gas tanks and empty bellies are not the basis of political stability, or profit, here in the United States of America, where the appropriation of immense amounts of time and space, using this store of ancient sunlight, is considered almost our birthright.

The Hydrocarbon Law

The reason I lead into a discussion of the Bush administration’s military “surge” plan for Iraq by talking about fossil fuels is that neither the government nor the media seem inclined to talk about the subject.  The desperation of the coming escalation of criminal lunacy is based not on some fantasy but on a real and coming competition between the U.S. and basically everyone else for these energy stores, even as most honest experts agree that world production of oil has now peaked and will begin an inexorable and irreversible decline.  The reason for attempting to implant permanent U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf area and install compliant governments (the real reason for the war from the very beginning) has everything to do with securing control over the region.

The surge plan is a painfully twisted military option, but what is twisting it is not well understood.  Stability in Iraq could be achieved relatively easily, even now, in conjunction with a precipitous redeployment of Anglo-American military forces.  The strange attractor—strange mostly because the media never mention it—is Iraq’s “first postwar draft hydrocarbon law,” which would “set up a committee consisting of highly qualified experts to speed up the process of issuing tenders and signing contracts with international oil companies to develop Iraq’s untapped oilfields.”  This law, which is tantamount to privatization with an Anglo-American franchise in perpetuity, is the bottom line for the U.S., as evidenced by the fact that this is the one, absolute, bottom-line point of agreement between the Bush administration and the so-called Iraq Study Group.  The rhetorical scuffle between these two entities is not the what, but the how.

Before any assessment of the balance of forces in Iraq can be undertaken from a purely military perspective (never possible, since military success is always measured against political objectives), it is essential to survey the major Iraqi military and political actors on where they stand with regard to the proposed Iraqi “oil law.” If the top priority is to salvage U.S. access to future hydrocarbon mining in Iraq, then the fundamental requirement is a comparatively “stable” Iraqi government that supports this access.  The fundamental show-stopper is any leader or set of leaders who reject this plan.

The catch for the U.S. is that, as we shall see, the Iraqi leaders who support the hydrocarbon law have no legitimacy upon which to establish stability, and the leaders who have the popular legitimacy to establish stability support neither the occupation nor the hydrocarbon law.

When the situation is looked at in this way, we can bypass all the chatter from government and media mystigogues about regional stability for the sake of the people, democracy, terrorism, et cetera.  These rhetorical smoke screens are concealing two inescapable facts:  (1)  The U.S. has lost the Iraq war and (2) the best retrenchment position possible now is to salvage the draft hydrocarbon law.

The Shiite “Government”

This explains, to a large degree, why the U.S. is harassing Iranian diplomats, even as it courts Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), as Dawa Party leader and putative Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s replacement.  Hakim, after all, is practically an Iranian citizen.  Why would the Bush administration court the most pro-Iranian leader among the diverse Shiite factions as successor in the event that Maliki fails to live up to U.S. expectations?  Hakim has been a consistent and strong supporter of the hydrocarbon law.

The Shiite leader who has most vehemently opposed this law, and the U.S. occupation, has been Muqtada al-Sadr.  The press has frequently portrayed Sadr as pro-Iranian, and nothing could be further from the truth.  The SCIRI has been most aggressive in the demand to divide Iraq into a very loose federation and transform southeastern Iraq into an Iranian rump state.  Sadr has called for Iraqi unification, left the door open to Sunnis for an anti-occupation alliance, denounced the hydrocarbon law, and modeled his political and military leadership on Hezbollah.

Here is where we come to the nub of The Surge, and why it is probably the political death knell of Nouri al-Maliki.  The principle aim of The Surge is to break the power of Muqtada al-Sadr.  Sadr not only has the seats in the Potemkin parliament of Iraq that put Maliki (a leader in a relatively small Shiite party, the Dawa) into power against the SCIRI (the largest parliamentary faction); he commands the ferocious loyalty of two and a half million people and has an 80,000-strong militia concentrated a stone’s throw from the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad.  Baghdad has about 6 million people; New York City has 8 million, just by way of comparison.  The population of Sadr City, the “neighborhood” under the leadership of Sadr, is approximately that of Brooklyn.

To realize this helps in understanding the considerations that go into planning a military operation.  We need some kind of comparative scale to really comprehend the dangerous lunacy of The Surge.

There is, in reality, no such thing as an Iraqi government now.  There is this formation inside the Green Zone.  Maliki cannot leave the Green Zone without an escort of armored vehicles and attack helicopters.  If anyone can explain how this constitutes governance, I’m all ears.

Congressional and media accounts constantly refer to the Iraqi government as the entity that requires U.S. military assistance to become the guarantor of Iraqi security. But the Maliki government—or any other government that relies on U.S. military protection to survive for a week—commands the loyalty of only a fraction of the armed actors in Iraq, and it positions itself tactically against most other armed actors.  The armed forces being trained for that “government” are themselves loyal to factions with agendas, and these forces are filled with opportunists and infiltrators.  Consider these facts: Seventy percent of Iraqis now are asking for an end to the Anglo-American occupation (that number goes up dramatically when the Kurds are subtracted).  And the Iraqis themselves are not merely Sunni or Shiite (as simplified accounts have it) but are identified with three major armed Shiite factions, two major Sunni armed factions, or a Kurdish militia of 100,000 that resides in the north and itself is divided into two camps.  In light of those realities there is no possibility of one faction gaining the acquiescence of the whole Iraqi population and the various armed expressions of populations. The Bush surge plan is designed to eliminate Maliki’s Shiite opposition inside Baghdad, i.e., Sadr and his Mahdi Army.

Next page:  If the Americans proceed with what appears to be a cruel and mindless plan (surely emanating from Dick Cheney’s lair) there will be a possibility of igniting the Mother of All Tactical Nightmares for the U.S.: a general armed Shiite uprising in the southeast.

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By inter4522, March 22, 2010 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

We need to get away from iraq. We have done our job and we need to get out troops out. The war is over.
whistleblower lawyers los angeles

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By Melissa, March 22, 2007 at 1:07 am Link to this comment
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I don’t think the administration in Washington ever wanted a stable democracy in Iraq.  They wanted to split it into several weak states and take control of the oil (and everything else) Bush and Co. may not have succeeded in what they SAID they wanted to do, but I believe they are succeeding in what they really meant to do.
It was very interesting to me, that soon after Negroponte and James Steele went to Iraq, the death squads emerged.  A lot like they did in Central America when the same pair were in charge.  I would be willing to bet that the Golden Mosque bombing what done by the Alliance as are many of the daily bombings.

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By Bukko in Australia, January 18, 2007 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment
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Mrs. Bukko had a comment when I described to her the Fallujah tactic of allowing women and children out of the beseiged city, but turning the men back to be slaughtered: “It’s the 12th Century. The little rat bastard has turned the clock back to the 12th Century.” She just finished reading a book about the Crusades, so she sees the parallels…

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By Bukko in Australia, January 18, 2007 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment
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Stan Goff, why do I keep reading your articles? They just keep scaring the hell outta me. Mainly because they’re so true.

I just jope you’re wrong about the so-called “surge” (more like a “stuck” since it’s just going to make a lot more unlucky troops get stuck into their rotations) being planned to attack Moqtada al-Sadr. Could U.S. comanders be THAT stupid and suicidal? If so, they’ll be like Custer’s troops that were massacred by some of Tao Walker’s ancestors. (You did say you were Lakota, right mate?)

What makes me think Goff’s frighteningly right is when I listen to the code phrases in the speeches by the Prezzinut and his sycophants. They never say what they really mean, but when they talk of “changed rule of engagment” and “lifting restrictions on where operations can happen” that’s code for “invading Sadr City and being allowed to kill any male who’s old enough to carry an AK-47.” Stan, you nailed it with the article about fascism. The leaders of America have become the new Nazis.

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By TAO Walker, January 17, 2007 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment
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The “extra-terrestrial” conclusion ‘alon’ (#48274) leaps to is probably informed by a lifetime of bug-eyed-monster movies and other social programming rooted in the xenophobic proclivities on such prominent display in this “modern” world.  It also reveals a woefully constricted capacity to apply some common sense, of the “.....looks like a duck….” variety, to the condition his/her own condition is in. 

To be fair, though, it must be conceded that the feedlot yearlings featured in Stan Goff’s report haven’t much to go on, either, in any attempt to see their predicament in-context, rather than only as context.  The same severe handicap exists for domesticated humans, too.  That anything but a “nasty, brutish, and short” life could be their fate outside the not quite yet intolerably uncomfortable confines of their captivity, remains an article-of-faith for the vast majority of the civilized peoples. 

An entire lifetime spent within a controlled environment designed specifically to minimize disruptive intrusions, by the greater living arrangement, doesn’t really prepare anyone inside it for the free wild life that is us human beings’ natural “estate.”  It doesn’t expose its captives, either, to the vast array of forms and modes of being at-large in the Great Hoop of Life….. except as “myths” and fantasies” and “superstitions” they are trained to reject reflexively in-favor of the approved orthodoxies that service the entirely self-centered purposes of their exploiters.

Here on The Rez the very idea of “extra-terrestrials” is fundamentally nonsensical.  The actual living universe isn’t really organized that way.  That there are entities who stupidly prefer to factory-farm their food supply, despite the well-known long-and-short-term debilities that stunt invariably results in, ought to be obvious even to your average all-American KFChicken chomper…...who is just exactly that kind of being.

Maybe it’s a bit more of a stretch for many to acknowledge that even among theirselves are some who derive essential elements of their overall nourishment from other than solid and liquid foods.  But virtually everyone is acquainted with at least a few who depend to some degree on more insubstantial things, like others’ emotions for example, to maintain their own “energy levels.”  This Indian is here to tell ‘alon’ that outfits like Tyson are penny-ante compared to the confinement operations being run here by entities who “enjoy” the same basic relationship to her/him as s/he does to a Happy Meal…...except they’ve no interest in tearing actual chunks out of his/her hide.

These fools feed on misery and fear.  So they have set-up a system here to deliver a steady supply for the satisfaction of their hyper-refined tastes…..and growing appetites.  Its “raw materials” are about as likely to figure out their actual status in the process as is a tomato in a Campbell’s soup kitchen… least that was the plan.

In order to maximize the output of the desired end-products, however, it’s been necessary to up-grade the originally not very large capacity of its human conscripts to actually experience fear and suffering, of the kind these tormentors can digest.  That has meant flirting with higher levels of “self” awareness in the livestock, which risks their discovering the real nature of their condition (plain and simple domestication), and attempting to break free of it.

The fall-back position is to convince the inmates there’s no place else to go.  So much of the captors’ energy these days is expended trying to wipe-out all traces of any place to live outside the hot-house/feedlot system.  Yet here we are.  Us surviving primitive savages are living proof of the ultimate collapse of the entire scheme here.

We’re not wasting our time on “wishes,” either.  We know where this is going.     


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By eric swan, January 17, 2007 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment
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life is a journey, enjoy the ride

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By Captain CusCus, January 17, 2007 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment
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It’s good to see an article like this because it covers almost all the bases.

The one it hasn’t covered is our relationship with Israel and the fact that Iraq and Iran are Israel’s enemies. It’s no accident that most of the most vocal supporters of the Iraq adventure are “Likudniks” of one sort or another, and they are busy trying to get us to attack Iran as well. For this reason, before you consume news and opinion, you had better check that it’s kosher, and not the product of some PR firm paid to grind an axe for someone.

Since if anything, the Democrats are more beholden to the Likudniks and AIPACthen the Republicans, do not expect them to legislate to halt the surge, or an attack on Iran, or to bring the troops home. They simply can’t do this without losing funding and support. This is going to enrage “grassroots” Democrats when it happens, but things will have to get much worse for the Democrats to act.

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By alon, January 17, 2007 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
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Tao Walker’s comment seems a bit extreme to me.  Your apocalyptic vision my be based upon worse case scenarios (though it seems to me that it is your wish), though I think it is improbable.  What is likely to happen is that United States hegemony will continue in its decline for the next twenty to fifty years and eventually pass the baton of power to another - China, India, or a unified Europe. Maybe these wars we are currently fighting will excelerate this process - seems likely.  While I’m puzzled by your comments, “That domesticated two-leggeds are themselves being cultivated as a food source, by entities as unconcerned about human “values” as their captive peoples are about, for example, bovine ones, is clear as day to us primitive savages here on The Rez”, I can only assume that you’re talking about human beings be eaten by extra terestrials?  If you know something, you should fill us in!

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By Jimmy, January 17, 2007 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
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Oddly enough I was flipping through “Crossing the Rubicon” over morning tea, and reading almost exactly the same information that Mr. Goff is putting forth. Apparently the end is coming and we should all be getting ready to… What’s that? Paris Hilton is at it again? Oh, gotta go.

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By Joe, January 16, 2007 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment
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Stan Goff’s piece is very written and articulated, as well as including some excellent links. Thanks! But the comment: 

‘The reason I lead into a discussion of the Bush administration’s military “surge” plan for Iraq by talking about fossil fuels is that neither the government nor the media seem inclined to talk about the subject.’

Perhaps not in the US main media but in other countries it’s long been discussed by journalists such as Pilger and Robert Fisk, and Labour MP Michael Meacher didn’t pull any punches last year when he wrote in the Telegraph: 

“There are three options to escape this dilemma [the coming oil crisis]. One, which the US is ruthlessly pursuing, is to grab by force of arms the lion’s share of what remains.”;=/money/2006/06/26/ixcoms.html

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By TAO Walker, January 16, 2007 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment
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Rationalists are compelled to seek reasons, causes-and-effects, and the other popular attributes of linearity when they try to understand the insanity rampant in this world.  It is only natural for them to use what they have to work with, as they try to keep some kind of grip on their own wits in a situation spinning more-and-more beyond their always mostly illusory control and into an increasingly irrational state. 

Stan Goff has no doubt come to some pretty sound conclusions about the likely scenario in Iraq over the next several months.  What he may not recognize yet is the sheer mass and momentum in the world’s institutional apparatus that has already rendered effectively useless human efforts to alter the always predictable course of events in any substantive way.

Admittedly this runs hard against the grain of most of the inmates of “western civilization,” particularly among those in its “can do” American cell-block.  Granted many there now see the attempted plunder of Iraqi resources as a botched job.  So the idea that there can be grand as well as petit malevolent exercises in futility is at least not entirely alien to them.  That their adored civilization itself might just be the grandest example of all, though, remains still in the realm of the unthinkable for virtually everyone trapped within its increasingly suffocating confines.

Yet the evidence for that is as plain to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell as it is overwhelming here in these latter days.  It’s just that the domesticated peoples have no stomach for it, spoiled as they are by a ten thousand-year force-fed diet of only the most refined abstractions, processed carefully to appeal to their sophisticated conceptual palates.  Few can even imagine life apart from the essentially feed-lot conditions they are pleased in their “specialness” to believe are limited to only their own factory-farmed foodstuffs.

We all are what we eat, though.  There is no avoiding that here in the material world.  This Indian has watched this civilization process for a long time, from both within and outside of its fences.  That domesticated two-leggeds are themselves being cultivated as a food source, by entities as unconcerned about human “values” as their captive peoples are about, for example, bovine ones, is clear as day to us primitive savages here on The Rez.

Somebody somewhere is reported to’ve once said, “Even as you do unto these, the least among you, so shall it be done unto you.”  (Does that ring any bells with those who style theirselves “Christian”? ) Truer words were never spoken, simply stating as they do a law of Nature.  Yet even the spectacle of masses of their fellows condemned to the killing-floors of disease, famine, and war (not even to mention day-to-day commerce) does not alert their next-of-kin to the presence in their world of something that so obviously means them no good.  Are even Tysons’ chickens that ignorant of the condition their condition is in?

There are no painless or piecemeal solutions, at this late stage of things, to the worldwide “problem” of slavery… it of animals, vegetables, or minerals.  Those who attempt to live and profit by it, no matter how “high” they might consider themselves to be in the universal “pecking order,” face only their own impoverishment, degradation, and death as its ultimate and inevitable “reward.”  That is where the civilized nations are headed hell-bent right now…...with all the oil in the world greasing the skids.

Better luck next time, brothers and sisters.


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By Umakant, January 16, 2007 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment
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Excellent Article !
A must read.


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By rbast, January 16, 2007 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment
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The reason the Gulf War ended was that the leaders at the time decided that the slaughtering was excessive.

Unfortunately the current leaders have decided that the slaughtering needs escalation.

God have mercy on us; Iraq never did anything to us.

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By ScottP, January 16, 2007 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment
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“former Gen. Barry McCaffrey”

Surely there is a better way to introduce a war criminal than that! Or are we to forget the slaughter he commanded in the Gulf War? Are we to pretend that those unarmed people were so threatening that he had to command their slaughter? And now we are to listen to his advice, as if it is likely to be in our national interest to take the advice of a bloodthirsty sadist?

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By Angel Gabriel, January 16, 2007 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment
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Spot on post gluelicker! As you mention “Rather, the US is trying to maximize control over this region because this region is endowed with a huge portion of the world’s commercially recoverable supply of the one critical input the global capitalist system cannot do without.”

It is in the U.S. interest to act first to secure the resources to insure global Capitalism’s future. The manner in which they are going about it IS the problem though. I don’t think there are any questions in China’s mind, Russia’s, or the European’s as to what the real version of the war on terror is. It’s the “Lie to the little people” story. WE being the little people. It is being sold as global security instead of the actual plan to roll OPEC and control the pricing of the resource for the coffer’s of the chosen few, that’s what I have the problem with.

Again you are right, we need to form a soft Social Cooperative around these Resources, but the problem I see is that the ones that are going after ther resources aren’t going to roll over and just allow this to happen. Look at the hundreds of thousands of lives already spent over keeping this under wraps and disguised as the “War on Terror”. In the grand Ideology that is playing out do you think that even if the numbers were in the millions of lives it would deter the agenda? Food for thought! The power of shock and awe are still in their hands!

If there is to be any hope of a soft social cooperative it can only come from outside the Hall’s of world democratic style Government’s.  Grass roots on a global scale. It needs to happen with the formation of a new political system syncronous within many countries in order to wrest the control from the hands of those who will forceably hold it. After all, all of these countries have a military machine of some sort!

Though the U.S. is leading the way in the takeover, it seems to appear most countries currently remain willing to bet on the U.S. as a “benevolent” keeper of the resource. If we consider for a moment who the leading players in this act are - can we be so sure that they will not continue the OPEC method of price control in order to perpetuate the “Have More” Society that they have created over the past 40+ years?

How then does a grass roots cooperative peacefully gain the upper hand? Unfortunately, I would have to label the ideas we share here as “Far Futurist” my friend!

Chavez has started a revolution on the left in South America, however I can’t visualize it as a “Soft Social Cooperative”. I fear there is going to be a re-focus to the Mid- and South America’s for the War on Terror. Even if it has to be created once again. This may be underway already as we speak in the world of the intelligence community, under Dr. Rice’s State Department. And there’s talk of Her running for President???

There is only an apparent coalition of 2 countries (U.S. & Britain), a small participation from Australia, but there is a silent strong ally working their own part of the agenda in the wings - Israel. They’re not considered a front row player involved in this battle for the resources, but I feel there is a strong tie in we are not seeing in their cooperation toward this ultimate goal. On the optimisitc side, the bulk of the other world global Government’s have stayed out of the fight, and although they voice some levels of support their voices are faint, not forceful. Again though, it will take efforts outside of Government’s to create a strong enough voice of resistence for a resource “safeguard” movement.

Hopefully this idea can germinate, and eventually take seed before millions more people have to be sacrificed in the War on Terror!

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By lawlessone, January 16, 2007 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment
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  Bush is insisting after almost four years, 3000 dead troops, 7 times that injured and a couple trillion dollars (counting equipment replacements, future medical costs and wasted infrastructure rebuilding) that we can still have “victory” or “mission accomplished” in Iraq by simply adding 20,000+ to the approximately 135,000 US military already there. No wonder the investors lost money in companies Bush ran before fleeing to politics.  He failed accounting. 

  In the 1st place, the ratio of ground pounders charged with personally kicking in doors to others is less than 1 in 10.  The rest are clerks, drivers, instructors, etc. Those jobs need to be done too, but focus on whether 20,000 uniformed bodies, even close combat veterans, makes the slightest sense.

  Let’s assume the giant Pentagon bureaucracy manages to cut the combat to support troop ratio going to Iraq in half by farming out potato peeling.  That still means only about 10,000 additional armed door kickers available.  Also assume that none get sick or take leave and are out beyond the perimeter kicking in doors twelve hours a day seven days a week. That means only about 5,000 are out and about at a time. They must sleep and eat some portion of each day.

  Crammed tightly together, 5,000 looks like a lot, but disburse them over a country the size of California and they become lost. That works out to about one pair of new boots on the ground for every 33 square miles. Even concentrated in the cities and assuming not one is put in the Kurdish areas, since there are about 20,000,000 other types of Iraqis, that means each proposed new trooper on patrol only has to suppress about 4,000+ Iraqi.  Even Custer faced better odds than that.

  Actually, to be fair, each new troop wouldn’t have to face 4,000 hostiles. There’re already about 135,000 military in Iraq (not all door kickers, but most can shoot in self defense) who’d lower the odds. Still, it’s currently only about 1 personal in US uniform per every 167 Iraqis.  Adding another 20,000 targets doesn’t help much.

  Moreover, apparently 60% of Iraqis favor killing Americans in their country.  Bush proposes to increase the number of embedded US advisors within Iraq army units. Oh good, surround our boys with armed Iraqis, 6 out of 10 who wouldn’t mind if a bullet went astray in the heat of battle toward those US advisors/trainers. Maybe we should call the duty assignment “entombing” instead of embedding.

  More troops, even quadruple the proposed number, hardly seems adequate given the magnitude of the task. Would a million troops be enough to bring “stability” and “democracy” to that country? That’d reduce the occupying army ratio down to 1 to 20 or so. It’d be insanity of course to contemplate such a “surge” in numbers, not to mention fiscal suicide. There are only 1,450,000+ active duty military personnel from all services including Coast Guard. About 10% of the total is already in Iraq. National Guard and Reserves are already stretched to the breaking point. To even add 20,000 more means many soldiers (and indirectly their families) will have to risk third and four tours in a combat zone, something Bush himself was not willing to risk even once.

  Bush was granted an unprecedented carte blanche for 2/3rds of his Presidency to use whatever he wanted in whatever way he wanted supervised by whomever he wanted to pursue whatever ends he wanted. Everyone except Bush has known for years however that the existing number of troops is not enough to accomplish any legitimate objective (assuming there was one to begin with). 

  It’s time for some rigorous cost/benefit analysis. The question that must be asked now is whether it is even possible to add enough troops to accomplish anything. If not, then why on earth are we doing it? I’m no accountant, but it doesn’t seem to add up.

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By chuckwalla, January 16, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
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Bro, you should run for president. No, I’m not joking. You’ve got monster cred in this militarized society, clearly are well-read and able to cut through the BS, and could lead an independent, third-party challenge. Half the friggin military would support you, all the pwogwessives, half the republicans who are dismayed by Big Brother, most military veterans, the non-Sectarian Left, progressive Democrats, pacifists (though we would disagree with them on the right of self-defense), the NRA (around the right to keep and bear arms), all minorities for your fierce anti-racism, most women for your equally sincere opposition to patriarchy, working people for you class backgound and stance, and a whole bunch of other categories I can’t think of.  Think about it.  The internet, et al, has upended traditional politics. Unthinkable possibilities are thinkable. You got this veteran’s vote (Vietnam).

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By gluelicker, January 15, 2007 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment
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Anyone who endorses “ending the US’ addiction to foreign oil” and “developing clean, domestic, and renewable energy resources” in order to “avoid future overseas entanglements” misses the point, including the point of this article.

The US is not trying to run affairs in and around the Persian Gulf and West Asia more broadly because it needs to secure predictable flows of increasingly scarce petroleum for its own use.

Rather, the US is trying to maximize control over this region because this region is endowed with a huge portion of the world’s commercially recoverable supply of the one critical input the global capitalist system cannot do without.

In other words, US imperialism (and all its attendant environmental and social costs) does not derive from the contingent fact that the US is not self-sufficient in the energy resource department. Instead, imperialism is fundamental to the US’ vocation—as it would be for any other capitalist big power in the US’ shoes—and the serial Persian Gulf/West Asian invasions and occupations are just means by which the US is attempting to prolong its flagging domination of the global system. (One poster here nicely advanced this argument.)

Advocating a technical fix like government subsidies for green fuel producers (speaking of Archer Daniels Midland—and Barack Obama for that matter!) and other “eco-entrepreneurs” does not get to the root of the problem.

It might sound like a tired old saw, and I hate to utter cliches, but the only lasting solution is a transnational people’s movement (one that can involve sympathetic states as well) toward some kind of low-impact environmentally-benign socialism. Unfortunately with each passing day and missed opportunity the lights are dimming on this already dim prospect.

Stan Goff has stated these essential truths more clearly here than elsewhere but it is certainly implied in his anlaysis of the coming awful bloodbath in Sadr City. Why then do articles of this type inevitably spawn naive commentary about tax breaks for ethanol refiners and solar panel manufacturers as being the keys to ending US militarism? Or platitudes about the US’ fundamental goodness being ruined by the Bushite usurpers? Is “progressive” US political culture really that intellectually bankrupt? Perhaps it is.

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By Angel Gabriel, January 15, 2007 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment
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In response first to #47697 - Cadence. No it hasn’t apparently occurred to other people commenting here that taking the word of a former Special Forces Officer/Army Ranger in this article because he’s seen this all through a “gunsight”  should be suspect. What other credible sources are you using - Fair & Balanced media like Fox?
Secondly - Impeachment talks, and Bullshit walks! Get off your apathetic asses and roll this guy out the door along with his Lap-Dummy Rice, and the Dark Lord.
It would be a quick way to get the first Woman into the White House for the next couple years, and for the Democrat’s to either put up or piss up a rope! Let’s see what your made of Nancy!

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By Stan Goff, January 15, 2007 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I stand corrected on natural gas.  That should have read “most of the natural gas we IMPORT”.

Thanks for the heads-up.

There is also a sentence fragment on the second page.

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By TechSgt, January 15, 2007 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Goff is by no means a typical military “expert”.  Give a “Hideous Dream” a read.
Reading his books has lead me to read so many other things that i hadn’t. Like Bell Hooks and about liberation theology for example.
  He has been openly opposed to the war from the start. I think it is important to not write one another off because we have or haven’t seen things through a rifle sight. Especailly when it seems like we have the same goal.
Another good article. Wish I could see others like it in the morning paper.

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By CRUISEY, January 15, 2007 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Calling Bush an Asshole is wrong.
An Asshole serves a useful purpose.

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By JrGruff, January 15, 2007 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment
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In addition, I would like to address those that disagree with Mr. Goff’s asessment of Peak Oil’s influence on the situation. It is irrelevant whether or not peak oil is a ‘real phenomenon’, artificially created or not, the science regarding climate change and its exacerbation from the burning of fossil fuels is clear. So, I’m really not sure why people are on here even debating it.

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By Davol, January 15, 2007 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment
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I’ll bet the American Army of 1993 could have handled this troop surge, but probably wouldn’t need to resort to such a desperate measure.  I feel like one of the few people who still remember that we decimated the number of troops in our Army through base closings throughout the 1990’s, and then Rumsfield tried and failed to run this war on the cheap.  Now we seem to not have enough troops in the greatest army in the world.  No matter what happens, fixing that is essential to the security of this country.  This whole war on terrorism thing seems too much like the war between Russia and CIA sponsored precursors to AlQaeda in Afghanistan back in the 1980’s, which resulted in a bankrupt demoralized Soviet state, ripe for having its infrastructure resold by investment firms like the Carlyle Group.  Perhaps we need to wake up to the possibility that our country has been setup for a similar demise by the kinds of greedy people who would think for years that a war like the one in Iraq is going just fine because Halliburton/Exxon profit margins are up.  I agree this war is about oil, but let’s also not forget another ulterior motive, which has had President Truman turning over in his grave for years now yet has failed to offend this generation of Americans.  This war has been a criminal no-bid giveaway to favored corporate interests who may even be in the way of giving insurgents real jobs.  This has probably been pissing off a lot of unemployed Iraqis.  How hard do we want to make giving a country back to its own people?  Even Soddam could boast of rebuilding his country after American bombings in about 6 months.  Do you get the feeling there is an elephant in the room nobody is acknowledging?  Investigations may save America from the trap Bush has set here for us.  The stench of investigations may be all we need to energize the impeachment movement with millions of Americans finally catching a whiff of what’s really going on here.  People are arguing that Democrats are not advancing an alternative plan, but the truth is that for 6 years now we’ve been going the wrong way and nothing will be solved until we completely turn this war crime around.  I love my country, and I want it back because what we’ve turned America into through Patriot Acts, Military Commission Acts, and tyrannical signing statements amounts to nothing but tyranny.  Failing to keep America what America has been for over 2 centuries would be victory for the terrorists.  Leaving and letting things fall where they may in Iraq is a credible option because first of all things are probably going to fall where they may sooner or later.  Its also a fair option in light of the fact that Bush’s idea of victory is a Shiite government with ties to his bitter enemy Iran.  G-d forbid a secular non-religious government who gives a damn about women should take over Iraq again.  Let’s shove some privatization plan down the throat of this formally socialist country that even American voters have been voting against consistently since Reagan.

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By JrGruff, January 15, 2007 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
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Perhaps I didn’t see it, but I have not heard one person on here yet write about an idealistic, peaceful approach to standing up to the Bush administration. Grassroots movements are forming to stop this oil addiction. The first thing we can do is each of us, start counting your carbs (carbon that is :0 ). Sure, not everyone can go green, but many who can, choose not to, or are just too undereducated, indoctrinated, or apathetic to do so. Spreading the word to people about how ridiculous and baseless, oil companies’ and Bush’s climate-change denying rhetoric is should be a good start to springboard local, wallet-based dissent of current foreign policy.

A voting majority that votes with the environment in mind, and actively pursues personal activities which limit their use of carbon products (oil and coal / plastics, etc.) would be, in effect, protesting both the current government’s and American energy corporations’ actions at home and abroad. Without American pocketbooks fronting oil companies’ push into Arab lands, BushCo will be even more un-credible in its actions without Exxon and BP’s support.

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By Robert Bott, January 15, 2007 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
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Canada supplies about 15 per cent of U.S. natural gas demand, with another 1 or 2 per cent from LNG and Mexico. The United States still produces about 84 per cent of its natural gas consumption (but only about 40 per cent of its crude oil).

I don’t disagree with the article’s thesis, but its credibility is undermined by an incorrect statement so prominently displayed.

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By ongre, January 15, 2007 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
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Very good article that should be required reading for every young man or woman who may potentially be called up.  The rest of us have to get off our buttocks and work to end our addiction to petroleum products.  A very difficult thing I know, but it must be done.  I especially enjoyed the bit about there not really being an Iraqi government, just a puppet regime with the strings being pulled by the masters in the white house.  I have had this thought for a very long time.

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By Ga, January 15, 2007 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
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Re: Comment #47555 “... Iraq to oil may not be the whole story…. ...we are completely unprepared and incompetently governed….”

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? But so complex, as you mention, that it’s hard to figure out the true motives of the Bush administration.

We know that they knew that there were no WMDs.
We know that they knew that Saddam was not threat to the U.S.
We know that they knew that Al Qeada was not in Iraq.
We know that they knew that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

(Although many Americans still ignore all that.)

So, why, then, invade Iraq?

If you read the history of the U.S. and British involvement in the Middle East, and you read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” (, we see that the U.S. originally send in diplomats to work with Saddam Hussein, and that did not work fully to our advantage, so then we sent in the “Economic Hit Men”, which did not work, se we then sent in the “Jackels” and that did not work (they were discovered and some were even executed), so, we then sent in the military.

But how much do you think does Bush’s own personal ambitions played a role? Did Bush want to kill Saddam for, as Bush said, “He tried to kill my dad?” (Only circumstantial evidence was ever made public regarding explosives with “Iraqi fingerprints” of the failed bomb plot on Papa Bush. And, during the first Gulf War we did try to assasinate Saddam at least three times.)

Does Bush really beleive that War in the Middle East has been ordained by God and that he is God’s instrument?

Really, really scary either way.

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By cadence, January 15, 2007 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
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Oh, the fog of war.  I had to ask myself, “Why am I paying heed to the observations of a former special forces/Delta Force/Ranger?”  Does it occur to anyone besides me that these retired military “experts” are making the same observations that quite a few enlightened, smart non-military people made before the stupidity ever started?  I seem to remember millions protesting, raising the very same objections and observations, years ago.  But this guy, he is given great credibility, because he’s seen it upfront and personal, through his very own gunsight.  I’m sorry—I will form my own opinions, and consider the source of such as these.

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By John in Bear, January 15, 2007 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
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Fantastic and concise article!  I would only add that the unbelievable profits reaped by american oil companies due to corporate welfare (royalty abuses)and ridiculous gasoling pump prices perpetrated on the public have left the war chests of these companies well stocked to build the infrastructure to exploit the Iraqi reserves.  I find it frightening that these plans have remained hidden in plain sight for so long for so many people.  The manipulation is astonishing.  The desperation evident in the surge option is about all that’s left to the Bush administration to salvage access to the oil.  It is sad to think that all those billions of dollars could have been spent developing solar energy, buying healthcare, rebuilding New Orleans, educating our children…what the hell, on ANYTHING ELSE.

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By DennisD, January 15, 2007 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
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This article connects the dots extremely well. The only thing missing and I’m sure not on purpose is big oil’s ownership of the White House and Congress.
This makes the blood for oil philosophy possible.
If we’d been using a fraction what’s been spent in Iraq on alternative fuel research we’d probably be very close by now to freeing ourselves of our dependence on oil. 
But since this is of no benefit to our “leaders” corporate masters we will receive nothing but lip service from our own government.
Accountability = Impeachment

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By LANCE, January 15, 2007 at 8:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Americans who sit on their hands, who are apathetic, who view Bush as just
another screwed up President and accept things for what they are, are

Americans must lead the way to rid our World of the vermin like Bush, Cheney
and Rice who are willing to steal away our lives and rights for their ill
begotten gain.

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By Mark Robert Gates, January 15, 2007 at 6:28 am Link to this comment
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Contrary to what George W. Bush, claims, our’ Congress’ can take the war in Iraq, and any further warfare away from him, and it is in fact our’ responsibilty, as Americans, to do so. As, George W. Bush’ and company, are presently the persons, really running a war by committee, as just because, you call it, a cabinet, instead of a committee, does not mean it is not still, as it is yet: a group called a committee, of which, attempts to run a war, on information, not gathered, by themselves, on a battlefield.

From, now on we need to let our’ Congresss’ give any warfare needs directly to our’ military to handle, as they see fit, directly, at the source: the battlefield.

Also, we need to do this, giving the military, the warfare issue in Iraq, as we need to end this left-right, up-down, in-out, black-white, wrong-right and liberal-conservative divide, in our’ Congress’. As, there are a million things needing handling, here at home, going unattended, whilst’ those in our’ Congress’ argue politics, instead of governing their territories, and metting the needs of thier contituency. Trying to straddle this divide and cover only extreme left-right positions, leaves all middle ground open, as if it does not exist. By, keeping political debate focused only on these extreme left-right positions, in debate, these pseudo-Christian, lame-duck, right wing conspiracy, Bush’ league people keep any needs, and wants, of all people from being met. Remove, the illusionist’s veil from your’ eyes, and take notice, we are a country, of a lot of people, and there is a lot going on, we need to deal with as a whole, you, me and they, and our’ entire government and Congress, need to take back the land, so we Americans, can once again live off of our’ own land.

We’ need to make sure, as many American’s, as possible, no longer face a tomorrow, as they do today, as, involuntary crime victims, not just as involuntary terror victims. It is, successfully, argueable, all crime is a terror attack, no matter how much more fun being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, seems, compared, to fighting on foreign soil, as like, was done is, Iwo Jima. I no longer watch movies that glorify and romanticize crime, as having done the crime, and done the time, I tell those still thinking Butch is a fun guy, “You are wrong! I met him, in jail, and trust me Butch, is not a fun guy, and neither is commiting crime and doing time.”

Copyright 2007, Mark Robert Gates

please my blogs:

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By Wayne Smyer, January 15, 2007 at 6:18 am Link to this comment
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While Baby and Daddy Bush , along with F-Y Cheney, Great Halliberton War Heroe, think that they are going get the Iraq Oil, they have lost all contact with reality. It’s true that they are trying to build permanent bases in Iraq, but they cannot defend the petro-infrastructure in Iraq. It would require 100,000 troops just to defend the 3,000 miles of pipe lines and refineries.
Even the wimpy DEMO congress will not allow this troop commitment, ie, 10 to 20 years. Now, we learn that Baby Bush is trying to create a justification to invade Iran! How much more of these psychotic delusions can we tolerate??
Lwayno, disabled vet

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By Druthers, January 15, 2007 at 5:39 am Link to this comment
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When the truth is laid out in all its horror and the “spreading of democracy abroad” blather (while destroying it domestically) is unmasked for what it is, facts speak or shriek.
The only thing to add is our egocentric use of oil.  When the oil in the ground is gone there will be no more!  Our children and grand-children will do without.  We should be economising for them, using every other possible source of energy. Of course this in not in the interests of the Big Oil Mafia, so..not in “American Interests.”

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By Lutarious, January 14, 2007 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Did anyone notice this?

“There is, in reality, no such thing as an Iraqi government now.  There is this formation inside the Green Zone.  Maliki cannot leave the Green Zone without an escort of armored vehicles and attack helicopters.  If anyone can explain how this constitutes governance, I’m all ears.”

Sounds like our very own Dick Cheney, huh?

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By HeadlessHessian, January 14, 2007 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment
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Excellent.  It matter not how military ready we are.  Read “No ordinary times”, about FDR.  The USA was so miserably inept and impotent at the time of the Poland invasion and the subsequent lousy performance by the Allies that when France finally fell, England was naked in a snow storm, and the New world was not ready.  BUT!!!!!
We had a leader, a great leader.  As we all know within 4 years the Axis was history, and our armed forces were the best.
Our problem is that we have no leader, no visionary.  We just have an inept Cheney puppet.  And Cheney is a capitalist pig of the worst type.  He cares nothing about anyone else, excepting profits for his former companies.
The oil wars are coming folks.  Be no fool to think that this was to ‘free Iraq’ or to look for WMDs.  This was was the first of many conflicts about oil.

We sit here fat and dumb, no longer happy, and if we don’t wake up, and stop electing republican idiots, like Bush, McCane, Romney, etc, we will deserve what we get.
The draft is coming….hang on to your kids.


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By sns, January 14, 2007 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment
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just one correction: Peak Oil is simply untrue as defined by the current paradigm.  For example, there is plenty of oil in South America, it’s just more EXPEN$IVE to extract, hence the term Peak Oil was invented by non-other than a scientist working for BiG OIL in order to make said co.‘s even more $.

otherwise a good article.

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By John, January 14, 2007 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is the democratic plan to end the war?

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By Angel Gabriel, January 14, 2007 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fine article, honest and to the point with regard to the reason the U.S. is mired in iraq and the middle east. Just the tip of the Iceburg though!
The U.S. is certainly NOT fighting a war on terror, but rather as Borat put’s it, “A war of terror”.
Though this article points to many indesputable facts as proof for the concept, this entire Iraq scene is merely a small foothold into the big picture.
I sincerely believe that this Neoconservative Administration is leading an open attack on the entire Oil Region of the Middle-East in order to topple OPEC, and control the cash flow of the House of Saud from which America virtually is owned -lock stock and barrel. With the Saudi’s & OPEC firmly in the drivers seat of pricing control, the Have More Class of America is unable to regain the cash flow necessary to pay off the burgeoning deficit and trade imbalance with China that has been accumulating since the beginning of “Outsource ‘R’ Us. The Chinese have given notice that the imbalance needs to be paid sooner rather than holding the credit chip much longer, and if the American Neo’s can’t get their act together in order to topple the reign of the Royal Saudi’s, then a simple Chinese Bond and Currency manipulation will drive the value of the U.S. dollar into the dirt and virtually wipe the assets of America’s Top Neo-Corporatists off the books.
Cheney is scrambling to prevent this calamity while attempting a last ditch Surge of Troops in order to keep the lid on the plan long enough to get the Oil Fields of Iraq repaired and able to provide a sideline cash flow while the Military secures the fake front on terror in order to progress the plan further toward bowling OPEC.
The name of the ultimate game is power and ultimate global economic control - the resources are the one key to end game, and the Neo’s know it. Unfortunately they don’t have the ability to do it under the cover of night anymore - they have to return to the coffins in the light of day, and that’s where this battle is heading.
Man the wooden stakes lad’s!

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By elendil, January 14, 2007 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you. Amongst all the bullshit, it’s nice to find an article that actually gets to the heart of what this “surge” is all about. I learnt a lot.

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By Louise, January 14, 2007 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is MUST reading for everyone!
Hopefully it will be forwarded to EVERYONE on EVERYONE’S mailing list!

Do you suppose our congress is aware of the real reason behind the administrations surge ... the depth of the damage to our military? More important the horror of the coming slaughter?

I’m sick and tired of crying!

I’m sick and tired of going to bed every night feeling like somehow I have a hand in this murder!

And, I’m sick and tired of listening to media pundits, think-tank blabber-heads and the notion that Cheney and Bush care deeply about ANYTHING!

Amazing ... back before we started this illegal, unnecessary bloody war, the only ones who got it right were the kids screaming ...

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By Ga, January 14, 2007 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just a couple comments regarding this excellent article.

Automobiles can feasibly be run on natural gas (Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)) although LPG is most commonly used. (I know someone with a 1963 Rambler running LPG, a conversion he did himself; new gasoline cars though, cannot be converted economically.) Currently there are many places to get LPG across the country, because people like to… BBQ. So we have the distribution capability. But is there an incentive for “fleets” of automobiles?

Dedicated LPG Ford Falcon sedan and wagon:

Fossil fuels are not just for combustion engines, utilties and food production; fossil fuels are part of just about everything product we buy in stores today. Not just in their manufacturing and distribution, but in the packaging and even in their chemistry.

Plastics and lubricants are vital to every piece of complex machinery and electronics.

If oil peaks before the world is ready to convert to other sources for plastics and lubricants (and there are organic alternatives) we may be in for some real problems.

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By Hank Van den Berg, January 14, 2007 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment
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The relationship of Iraq to oil may not be the whole story, but it is a useful reminder of how complex and interdependent our world is.  More alarmingly, the article reminds that we are completely unprepared and incompetently governed precisely when we need a high level of competence to deal with our complex world.
Where is the U.S. leadership that understands how to secure our realistic place in the current interdependent world? Where is the leadership that understands that we cannot defeat other nations and that we have to deal contructively with the “competitors” for oil and other resources in the rest of the world?  Killing civilians in Bhagdad will clearly not get us there, but are there enough Democrats and intelligent Republicans who are have enough sense to pull the emergency brake on this train barreling straight into a dead-end side line at 90 miles per hour with a drunk engineer!

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By GW=MCHammered, January 14, 2007 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


1. Postpone the current Iraq surge.
2. Admit to the world our mistake.
3. Exile Bush and Cheney.
4. Invite our Allies into 3-day joint House and Senate discussion.
5. Invite Middle East nation leaders into 3-day joint House and Senate discussion.
6. The House and Senate develop then vote on two Plans for Iraq that include Middle East national interests, our Allies pursuits and our own stakes.
7. Begin a surge of 50,000 or more multi-national troops to secure designated voting regions in Iraq.
8. Invite UN Inspectors to help police voting and the execution of The Plan for Iraq.
9. Take the agreed upon Plans for Iraq to the Iraqi people for vote.
10. Take the agreed upon Plans for Iraq to the American people for vote.
11. Invite international corporations to bid on pertinent particulars of The Plan for Iraq.
12. The Plan for Iraq with the most popular joint Iraqi-American vote will commence with the full potency of Middle East, Allied Nations and American forces.
13. Any nation or corporation that does not fully cooperate with The Plan for Iraq will pay immediate heavy economic and possible military consequences executed by the cooperating nations.
14. Apologize to the world for our mistake, thank them for aiding healing and rebuilding the region, begin therapy to end US addiction to oil forever.
15. Enter the world stage reborn a Great Democratic Nation with a more prosperous global future.

(hey, we can dream but leaders better begin planning)

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