Shuck and Jive

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Expanding Empire's Wars

The United States was not attacked.
Congress has not declared war.

Those inconveniences are so last century. Libya is the latest notch on the oil spigot as the United States Empire is now at war with three Muslim countries all at the same time.

You can watch all the
latest video game excitement here.

Some of my good friends disagree with me. They are good people. They are decent human beings. They want to do what is right and what is just. They tell me I am wrong about this.

This is a humanitarian mission. Gadhafi is killing his own people. I know. That is what happens in a civil war.

This is not a military invasion, but a limited no-fly zone. We can call it what we like, but when we bomb a sovereign country's air defenses, that counts as an act of war.

Gadhafi is a maniac and a dictator. Something needs to be done. Granted. But he didn't attack the United States.

Nevertheless, I do understand the feeling of helplessness when innocent people suffer. We should do something. I get that.

Planet Earth, let us do something. This is the only solution?

I do not trust Empire. The emperor has lied to us before. Remember WMD? Just because a different guy wears the emperor's clothes that doesn't mean anything has changed.

My friends are good, altruistic, justice-minded people. One would think that the Empire would be as well. But it isn't.

Niebuhr knew this when he wrote
Moral Man, Immoral Society. From that book is this piercing quote:
The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behavior. Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit. The fact that the hypocrisy of man's group behavior... expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behavior in general, symbolizes one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals. As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command. pp. 8-9
My friends are altruistic and justice-minded. Empire is not.

We are
Petroleum Man and we are sliding the down-slope of Hubbert's Peak.

  • We consume 18-20 million barrels of oil per day.
  • We extract from our own reserves about 6 million barrels per day.
  • We must import 12 million barrels per day.
We will do whatever it takes to get those 12.

That, in Niebuhr's words, is the "true character of their collective behavior."

And now, world oil extraction is at its peak.

We are in the midst of resource wars. We will have more opportunities for humanitarian intervention into oil extracting and exporting countries (such as Libya) for another couple of decades.

Libya extracts and exports about 1.7 million barrels per day. Not a lot, but for an addict, every little bit counts.

I do not trust any humanitarian impulse from Empire when it comes to attacking oil exporting countries. It was humanitarian (good vs. evil) when we invaded Iraq.

Wasn't it?

We are in Afghanistan and Iraq (still) and sending drones into Pakistan and who knows what all we are doing around the world to make sure those spigots are open for as long they can be.
Until the American people get that and revolt, we will engage in one military spree after another and believe any justification Empire wants to give us.

Of course I believe in a lot of unpopular things.
  1. I think all of Empire's wars are resource wars and as such, unjust.
  2. I think Empire was far less than truthful about 9/11.
  3. I think Peak Oil has happened and is bringing down the world economy.
I hope I am wrong about a lot of things.

However, I also think a new future is ahead for us when we (you and me) finally make the decision that the infinite economic growth model based on essentially free and non-renewable fossil fuel energy is ending and we need to find and implement a whole new way to live together.

If we survive the next few decades without annihilating each other with our missiles, our future generations may enjoy a good life and look back at ours with puzzlement.

Who knows.


  1. Meanwhile, a 100-mile-long oil slick has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico neaer the site of the Deepwater Horizon. But nothing to see here, move along ....

  2. Maybe this comes out of growing up in the 1960s but my first reaction was "and this is our business because?" And then I thought, "Oh yeah, oil."

  3. @Southern Beale Thanks for that link. I am having a hard time finding many news reports. Thanks also for linking to this post at your place!

    @Robert Obama stated clearly that it is US Policy that Gaddafi leaves. Just irony and coincidence that the U.S. is major participant in this effort.

  4. Thanks to Presbyterian Voices for Justice for linking to this post. If you know of other theologians/ethicists who have written about this (any position) I would like to know.

  5. Tell it like it is, John.

    And, a few questions:

    How do WE THE PEOPLE go back to democracy and reject empire?


    Have we ever been a democracy?


    Are there examples in history of Empire becoming Democracy? Perhaps Great Britain. Maybe Scandinavia. Germany. Any others?


    I guess there is hope. It can be done. But it won't be easy.

    + Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + + "Why 99, you know we have to murder and kill and destroy in order to preserve everything that's good in the world." --Maxwell Smart to Agent 99