My son is almost ten years old. His birthday’s in early April. And I remember sitting in the hospital room with my wife and my newborn firstborn watching American troops roll into Baghdad on TV.
This post is about oil and economics.
I remember strong feelings radiating out from me. I wasn’t okay with the war in Iraq. I fumed and clenched and unclenched fists when I heard stories like the soldier who told his small son that he was going to kill the man (Saddam Hussein) who blew up the Twin Towers. I remember thinking then—as I did even in my blatant ignorance in 1991—that the war was a resource grab. The US is, and has been throughout my life, greedy for oil. I’m not saying we thought we could just fill up our tanks and gas cans and walk away with it after the dust settled, but I am certain the war had everything to do with making sure there was a “free” market we could participate in.
9/11 woke me up. Until that point I avoided talking about or learning about politics in any way. I didn’t want to know how government worked. I just knew I didn’t like it. And until that time I had the luxury of being that selfish. But when the planes slammed into the buildings I had been married just over a year with the promise of starting a family. I was deeply affected by that event. It was easy to watch the unholy connection of threads that were woven between 9/11 and a push to send troops into Iraq.
So of course, the war in Iraq was part of my early political education. I watched it develop with intense focus. I scrutinized, analyzed, and prattlized about every news story I saw. I took up reading articles on the progression of aggression. Ironically, I did all this was a more seriously sprained ankle than the one I’m still hopping about on now. Ten years, almost to the day…
Anyway, the war in Iraq convinced me that our greater system of government (I’m speaking of size, not moral fortitude) was corrupted beyond fixing. The war, probably more so than 9/11, incited me to delve even deeper into world politics.
Now, I don’t profess to be an expert political analyst. I’m just this hack, you see. But I pointedly yanked my head out of the sand and have kept it out ever since. I owe it to my children to understand the world I brought them into. I owe it to them.
I didn’t know anything about the concept of peak oil then. But I did see the global obsession/dependence on petroleum as being fundamentally unsustainable. In the decade since I’ve gathered the tools to better understand why the political world operates as it does. And in 2008 I was slapped with another revelation: economics. I had pointedly ignored economics when I should have been studying politics and economics and their intertwinings.
I didn’t cheer when Saddam Hussein was executed. I understand he was a bad man, and he was found guilty of his crimes and punished accordingly. But as an American I didn’t think that was really any of my business. His crimes affected me only because they occurred in a country that has a wealth of oil underneath it. I just didn’t think that was right, that we went in and ousted him when we let so many others continue in their sins. Others…who aren’t sitting on oil and trying to keep us from getting it.
These days I understand the economics of resource dependence much better. And I better understand how resource dependence ties in to even the most mundane political themes.
Cypriot. That’s the word I was trying to think of last night. Cyprus, a little island nation in the Mediterranean, is the fulcrum. Will it fall out of the EU? Will it implode? Who else will try these tactics the Cypriots are proposing, or imposing a bank deposit tax to bail out the country?
It will be interesting to see how this turns out; interesting to me, horrifying for those directly affected by it today.
Do we care? I think we should. How does an island nation going into bankruptcy face the dawning of a new day? I’m not a very adept economic analyst. I don’t know where we’re headed. But one thing I do know for certain is that all of the so-called experts don’t agree on what this means, how it happened, or what we should do. We’re shooting blind, from the hip, and in the dark.
I’m just wondering if in ten years I can look back with another sprained ankle and remember with clarity where I was when the economic collapse began and say:
Happy 20thBirthday Boone.