Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why I am participating in the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

On March 15-17, I am going to participate in the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.

So far about ten from First Presbyterian have decided to participate. Others are welcome. If you would like to participate, e-mail me.

Why do this? I speak only for myself. I believe that in the words of Jesus and John the Baptist that the kingdom of God is at hand. Now is the time for a change of consciousness. Not some day. Not in the future. Not in "heaven" after we die. Now. Here, on Earth. What is this change of consciousness? It is the recognition that we are one human family. It is the recognition that wars for resources are infantile and will result in our destruction. It is the recognition and the will for all governments to cooperate with one another, to share our resources and to prepare for a post-petroleum age. Why are we at war in Iraq? Rarely, do we find those who advocate for an increasing military presence there speak so candidly as to the why. I appreciate the letter written to the editor of the Johnson City Press on February 1st. I post it here in full from Robert English of Johnson City:

American Oil Dependence Makes Winning Essential

Congressional Democrats, incapable of managing business in Washington, now presume to micromanage war-fighting tactics in Iraq. They’re threatening our troops in Iraq with what that they did to our troops in Vietnam. But make no mistake: we cannot lose in Iraq. This nation imports around 16 million barrels of oil a day to power our economy, including our private vehicles. The Arabian region contains 60-70 percent of global oil reserves. A loss in Iraq could shut down the flow of Arabian oil to America with devastating consequences.

Remember the Iranian embargoes? Consider this hypothetical: We quit in Iraq and withdraw our forces. Iraq descends into anarchy. Near collapse, the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government calls on predominantly Shiite Iran to send troops to stabilize the political and economic situation. Accordingly, President Ahmadinejad orders Iranian troops into Shiite-controlled southern Iraq. After degrading the Sunni insurgency by force of arms, Ahmadinejad launches a blitzkrieg invasion of Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia ipso facto shutting down oil production in both countries. The price of oil skyrockets to $150 a barrel and gas costs $7 a gallon in America.

Faced with a devastated economy, America declares war on Iran. Eventually, our troops are engaged in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. American casualties are more than 10,000 in the first week of redeployment.

As long as America is highly dependent on oil, we must have a large military footprint in the Mideast. Geographically, Iraq is the ideal venue for our troops. We must reinforce them now.

Mr. English states clearly what is at stake. The United States consumes 16 million barrels of oil per day. I think the figure is closer to 20 million but that is less important. Total world production is 80 million barrels of oil per day. Currently, Americans consume 1/5 to 1/4 of the world's oil. Eighty million barrels of oil is the most Earth can give us. We are nearing the point of peak oil production. When we reach that point, there will be less oil for everyone. As Mr. English points out we are at war for the remaining oil reserves. This is not a war against terrorism or to spread democracy but to control oil reserves so that we can maintain our economy and our consumption. (If you go to the right of this blog and read the posts under "Our Context" you can see this explained in more depth).

What is the answer? We might look to history. Jared Diamond published an important book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

He analyzed a number of societies faced with resource and environmental challenges. The societies that chose to succeed recognized the problem, cooperated, and found alternatives. The societies that chose to fail refused to recognize the problem, went to war with one another, and collapsed.

The statues on the defoliated Easter Island are sobering memorials to the wrong decision.

The path of the current administration (and that advocated by Mr. English) is to buy another 20 years of current consumption for Americans. Collapse will come. It will be far more devastating for Americans and for Earth than if we make the sacrifices we need to make today. Our current administration does not trust Americans with the truth. The administration does not think we can handle the sacrifices that need to be made. It doesn't think we have the creativity, the will, or the courage to face what must be faced. I believe that Americans and humanity as a whole, do have the creativity, will, and courage to face the reality of a post-petroleum age, and then to cooperate and find solutions for a brighter future. This requires of us a new consciousness. We are one world family. We must think in those terms.

That is why I am participating in the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. For me, it is not just about Iraq, but an entirely new way to envision our future. I close this post with the words to a hymn to the tune of "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing." It was written by Miriam Therese Winter and it is called "O For a World."

O for a world where everyone respects each other’s ways,
where love is lived and all is done with justice and with praise.

O for a world where goods are shared and misery relieved,
where truth is spoken, children spared, equality achieved.

We welcome one world family and struggle with each choice
that opens us to unity and gives our vision voice.

The poor are rich, the weak are strong, the foolish ones are wise.
Tell all who mourn: outcasts belong, who perishes will rise.

O for a world preparing for God’s glorious reign of peace,
where time and tears will be no more and all but love will cease.


  1. If what you said id true, and I believe it is, I fear for my future grandchildren. We (The United States)need to stop being so self centered and childish as a nation. I pray we will wake up before it's to late

  2. Thanks, Chris.

    I really didn't mean for the tone of this post to sound quite so ominous. I hold out a great deal of hope for us and for your grandchildren and mine!

  3. Hi Seeker,

    I can't afford not to be optimistic. Hope keeps me going!