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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 5, 2009


Oil as a Weapon

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, or so said Sir Isaac Newton in his Third Law of Motion. In the case of the newest escalation of the violence between Israel and Palestinians living on the Gaza Strip, the opposite reaction has presented itself as an excuse for the oil-rich nations of the middle east to raise their prices.

But higher gas prices, like the ten cents per gallon rise we've seen since the beginning of the new year, aren't the only reaction. Those same nations who are so reliant on the black gold which resides under their sand want to use oil as a weapon and force the US, Western Europe and other allies of Israel to intercede on behalf of the people of Gaza.

Led by Iran - yes, that same Iran named as a part of the "Axis of Evil" by President Bush - the proposed boycott was met with something less than enthusiasm by the rest of OPEC. The idea presented by General Mirfaysal Bagherzadeh led others to distancing themselves from it, including those in Iran whose job it is to make such policy.

But what would such a move by mostly Muslim-led oil producing nations accomplish? Back in 1973, a similar reaction to the Yom Kippur war between Israel and its neighbor-foes did lead to oil shipments being halted for the US and higher gas prices. Certainly many of you old enough will remember the long gas lines and odd-even gas days (If your license plate ended in an odd number, you could only purchase gas on odd days; likewise for even numbered license plates.)

Today those same nations count profit as a main factor in their decision making.

"An oil embargo is just bad for business,"
-Serene Gardiner of Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai

But is that all?

With all of the banter during the last election cycle about oil and alternative energy and how it has everything to do with our national security, certainly our allies in the middle east realize that the American people would have no real taste for extortion. You can bet that Saudi Arabia - the nation which supplied fifteen of the nineteen 9-11 terrorists - doesn't want the world, and especially America, to be reminded of their 2001 "contribution". And certainly they don't wish to have their Madras's of hate to be brought forth in the American media for all to see.

Heck, maybe we'll even pay attention this time.

Confrontation in the energy market is not a smart move to make by the middle east oil suppliers at this point in time. With the exit of President Bush and his favorable view of all things Saudi, and the promise of the incoming Obama administration to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, everyone in that part of the world knows they have to watch their collective steps and threats.

But this is a good time for President Obama, who has been quiet in the days before he take over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to bring forth all of those alternative fuel ideas. It's the right time to use our middle class dollars to help create real jobs of the future in the alternative fuel industry and to invest in more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The middle east oil producing nations shouldn't be afraid - they should be very afraid because this is the right time to begin new energy policies. The idea of our middle eastern "allies" using oil as a threat against us is a good jumping-off point.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "Gaza and Israel," Dorothy Schwartz writes:

Go to the Obama website and write your comments in the place where they seek input. You have good ideas.


I did just that. Thanks. -NG

And David McReynolds writes:

I am sympathetic to your concern for finding a way out.

The problem is much more Israel than the Palestinians - Israel will veto any buffer zone unless it is ENTIRELY ON PALESTINIAN LAND. We've been through this before - Israel is happy to have the UN set up shop in the Palestinian border - but not on the Israeli side.

I'll send you an item, in a moment, which I just got from Israel. I do NOT share the politics of Hamas, which are fundamentalist, oppressive to women and to homosexuals. True, they won the election. True, as I'm sure you know, that for some years the US was in contact with Hamas, but not with Fatah, and the Israel helped create Hamas to offset the secular radicalism of Fatah.

The Israeli government - not the whole people - will do anything in their power to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state. At best they might permit the kind of thing the South Africans tried before that regime shattered.

I see no chance at all of Israel moving toward any rational choices until the US ends all military aid and economic aid to Israel. There are so many points of horror in our world - Darfur, etc. - but Israel is the special burden for Americans because we gave Israel the F-16's they are using, we have paid for the illegal settlements.

And Madman responds:

I disagree. Both sides are at fault. Certainly Israel would argue that as soon as the Hamas bombings stop so will the retaliation. And likewise, those in Gaza will say that as soon as Israel stops retaliating they will make Hamas stop launching rockets.

I am a big supporter of Israel but believe that Israel must accept terms set up by the International community. Negotiations must take place but a solution - one that can be enforced - must take precedence. And that includes both on Israel and Gaza.

And Denise writes:

Both sides are guilty in the constant instability and fighting and suffering in the Gaza strip and Israel. However, no peaceful or even hope of a peaceful resolution can take place when the United States refuses to quit taking sides and continuously spouts off the so called "politically correct" instead of diplomatic approach needed to render any sort of peace. This government, both Dems and Repubs are out of touch with the world because they don't have the courage to do and say what is right and because of the politician's rhetoric a bloody war continues to kills innocent people who want nothing but a stable, hopeful life for themselves and their children. It is not surprising that Olmert would begin such a bloody war considering he, like Bush, is on his way out and dividing and conquering seems to be both of their mottos. Hamas was elected by the Palestinians to lead their government and no matter how unpopular it is not the United States job t o override that and dictate to the United Nations, rather than compromise on some points, a resolution that will at least help both sides come to an understanding on how the people, not the governments, can try to live together. Again, our failure to do so may make the U.S. government look good in the eyes of Americans, but we lose respect and credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world.

And Madman responds:

The problem that still persists with Hamas in charge in Gaza is that they don't speak of Peace - only the destruction of Israel.

I don't like using this analogy, but it fits here: hitler was elected as well, and we all know how that turned out.

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-Noah Greenberg