Gas = Crack

Kenji Sugahara

gaspumpYes folks. Gas is our nation's crack cocaine. We have an insatiable appetite for it, and we'll do anything to get it. According to operatives returning from Iraq, we invaded Iraq for two reasons. One is to project power (nice location isn't it- and we're building permanent bases- which means our men and women aren't coming home for 5-10 years), and second of course was for oil. Remember when gas was close to hitting $3.00 a gallon? Remember how the media focused attention on high gas prices? Remember how Congresspeople were screaming about launching an investigation into price gouging? What happened? Suddenly, you can hear the crickets chirping. We as a nation suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder.

Something still needs to be done about the oil industry. It happens every year. Oil companies jack prices, then drop them. They've learned that when prices go up, people will scream. But wait a few months, drop the price a little, then people will shut up.

They use excuses like: we're retooling our refineries (retooling my butt- do they schedule them so the shortages happen during peak travel?), there's more demand than supply, OPEC is jacking prices, there's a war in the Middle East (now who caused this last one? hmm?), and there be terrorists in them hills. During the peak, motorists may have been paying as much as 36 cents a gallon more at the pump because of the petroleum industry's anxiety that terrorists might disrupt oil supplies. Some energy economists said as much as $10 to $15 was added to the cost of every barrel of crude oil because of "fear".

And....

"Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday said its quarterly earnings surged 39 percent on record oil prices, higher production and its best refining and marketing results in 13 years. Quarterly revenue surged 24 percent to $70.7 billion, fueled by record prices for crude oil and gasoline and robust natural-gas prices. Soaring prices for oil, gas and refined products added up to near-record results for integrated companies, such as Exxon Mobil, which pump oil, turn it into gasoline and then market it through service stations around the world. Soaring prices and profits, however, didn't translate to increased investment spending. Exxon said capital expenditures fell by 5.6 percent to $3.62 billion during the quarter."- Reuters

"Record prices, soaring profts, earnings surged, best results... in 13 years..." Sounds kinda fishy to me especially when Bush doesn't try to intervene to help stabilize prices.

I'd like to see a move toward alternative fuels, but you know who is getting the majority of the money that Bush obtained for research into hydrogen fuel. You guessed it... his oil cronies. Do you know what that means? Taxpayer money for oil companies, no real progress toward alternative fuel use until the oil companies squeeze every last penny out of oil, attempts at drilling in the ANWAR, and our grandkids facing "hydrogen fuel shortages" during peak travel season in 2050.

President Kerry (to be)- please promise us you'll break the oil monopoly!

Comments

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    Are you saying crack is bad?

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    Hahahaha! Depends on which kind. Are we talking plumber? Then probably. (Depending on the plumber of course)

  • brett (unverified)
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    Tinfoil hat alert. This is the kind of thing I had hoped I wouldn't see on this site.

    Alternative energy, fine; reduce dependence, fine; "Bush and his cronies," wtf? Of course oil companies get some of the funding for energy research; they have the engineers, labs, experience, and equipment to do the work.

    BTW, if the war in Iraq was "for oil", as you claim, why didn't we just appropriate Iraqi oil? Why are we repairing the oil infrastructure and letting the Iraqis sell their oil? For that matter, if we are really hellbent on wars of conquest for oil, why didn't we go straight for the motherlode and invade Saudi Arabia?

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    Part I

    Heheh. Thought I'd throw in a grenade and see what happens. Always fun. The Saudi scenario is pretty interesting. The reason that we don't invade Saudi Arabia? We have them in our pocket. How? Technology. They want technology, we have it. But, we do not allow them to reverse engineer any of it. (Keep em dumb as some of our "contractors" like to say.) It's definitely used as a carrot. For example, if the US wants to move troops in the region and is facing some push back from the royal family, we'll offer to put in cell towers for 6 months or so. Why else? A. it would look bad B. we wouldn't have an excuse C. why tick off the Iranians? (Whom hate us and couldn't care less about our technology)

    Why didn't we simply appropriate the oil from Iraq? Well... that wouldn't look great in the international community. However, we do get access. "Excluded from control over Iraqi oil since the nationalization of 1972, Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron will now gain the lion’s share of the world’s most profitable oil fields. Few outside the industry understand the huge stakes in Iraq, which amount to tens of billions of dollars in total potential profits per year." Global Policy Forum Although, the current oil minister is really worrying Washington with talks of keeping the oil industry nationalized. In addition, the Bush administration talks of using profits to help rebuild Iraq- then one must ask, who's rebuilding Iraq? Last I heard some major corporations were doing the work. e.g. Halliburton.

    To go even further- the invasion was written in stone when the Bush administration took office. Many individuals have come forward, but not many people have noticed this letter. Take a close look at the signatories. There's some more interesting information about the group here. Even more here.

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    Part II

    I see the advantage of big oil companies in the distribution channel, but I don't see it as much on the R&D side. In fact, I see other non-oil related companies having more experience with non-petroleum based energy research. Bush launched a $1.2 billion program to develop hydrogen fuel technology. $350 million has been allocated to research centers. However, more than half of all hydrogen funding is earmarked for automakers and the energy industry. Under the president's plan, more than $22 million of hydrogen research for 2004 will be devoted to coal, nuclear power, and natural gas, compared with $17 million for renewable sources. Overall funding for renewable research and energy conservation, meanwhile, will be slashed by more than $86 million.

    According to the administration's National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap, drafted in 2002 in concert with the energy industry, up to 80 percent (see page 19 of the PDF) of all hydrogen will be refined from oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. 10 percent will be cracked from water using nuclear energy and 10 percent would be electrolysis (though unsure where electricity would be generated).

  • brett (unverified)
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    Well, if expressing concern about Hussein's regime constitutes 'writing the invasion in stone', here are some more quotes for you:

    "I think we ought to put the heat on Saddam Hussein. I've said that for a number of years, Bill. I criticized the Clinton administration for backing off of the inspections when Ambassador Butler was giving us strong evidence that we needed to continue. I think we need to put the pressure on no matter what the evidence is about September 11." - John Kerry, 12/11/01

    "I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein." -- John Kerry, 12/14/01

    "Do you think that the problem we have with Iraq is real and it can be reduced to a diplomatic problem? Can we get this guy to accept inspections of those weapons of mass destruction potentially and get past a possible war with him? [question from Chris Matthews]"

    "Outside chance, Chris. Could it be done? The answer is yes. But he would view himself only as buying time and playing a game, in my judgment. Do we have to go through that process? The answer is yes. We're precisely doing that. And I think that's what Colin Powell did today." - John Kerry, 2/5/02

    "I agree completely with this administration's goal of a regime change in Iraq." -- John Kerry, 7/29/02

    And then there's the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act passed by the Senate (including JK) and signed by Clinton, which said "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq."

    So the neocons weren't alone in worrying about Iraq. But expressing concern about it doesn't equal committing to an invasion -- if Saddam had stepped down or left the country, if he hadn't played games with the inspectors, if he had come clean, there would not have been a war. I don't quote Kerry because I think he was wrong - on the contrary, he was dead right. It's a shame he won't acknowledge it now.

    You're right that US contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel are helping to rebuild Iraq. And we're paying for it. Isn't that the exact opposite of your scenario, where the country as a whole would profit from the war? We're paying to repair schools, water lines, electricity plants, etc. And Iraqis love us for it:

    http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com

    Bush launched a $1.2 billion program to develop hydrogen fuel technology.

    Overall funding for renewable research and energy conservation, meanwhile, will be slashed by more than $86 million.

    Tell me how those two make sense together. It makes sense to give automakers money to try to build fuel-cell cars that would run on hydrogen. It makes sense to find new ways of producing hydrogen that don't require petroleum -- but those ways aren't around yet, and probably won't be for some time, barring some major breakthrough in solar energy. So in the meantime, we should find ways of producing hydrogen from oil. Plants that would crack crude oil into hydrogen would be infinitely cleaner than what we have today..

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    Kenji's title is provocative, and his language is occasionally inflamatory, but I don't see how his post deviates even a little from the reports readily available in the media. (And I like provocation--it's fun!)

    His essential point is this: we're hooked on gas, and Bush, whose family wealth and business and social connections are all deeply oily, isn't about to try to honestly wean us from the Saudi wells. Can you honestly refute that? Talk about tinfoil hat.

    Your Kerry quotes are instructive. They reflect not duplicity, which I think the right implies about him, but a consistency of foreign policy worldview. The (Bush-endorsing) Economist described it this way: "In trying to strike a balance between multilateralism on the one hand and continued assertiveness on the other, Mr Kerry is returning to the hard-headed "progressive internationalism" of Roosevelt and Truman, which dominated American foreign policy throughout the cold war."

    In 2002, Kerry agreed it was a longshot that we could get Saddam to accept inspectors. Barring that, and based on the intelligence he received, he was prepared to authorize action. But you unwittingly discovered the evidence that identifies the consistency: Saddam did allow inspections. And despite Bush's failure to heed the results (or even remember that they happened), they were effective.

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    "The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."-From the Project for a New American Century.

    I agree with you that merely expressing concern does not commit one to military aggression. However, in this case it presents strong circumstantial evidence that there was momentum to push for an invasion. This given the fact that the founding members of this group include Vice-President Dick Cheney; Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (signer); Paul Wolfowitz of the Defence Department (signer); Richard Perle (signer), head of the defence advisory board; Louis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff; John Bolton (signer), undersecretary of state for arms control; and Elliot Cohen of the defence policy board.

    "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq."

    I don't see any problem with that. However, it does not mention that we should go ahead and invade.

    if Saddam had stepped down or left the country, if he hadn't played games with the inspectors, if he had come clean, there would not have been a war.

    I agree that Saddam shouldn't have been such an idiot, but wouldn't it have been better to listen to our allies (who been allies since the 1940's) and waited? Where was the clear and present danger? There have been no weapons of mass destruction found to this point. (and it seems unlikely that any will be found in any significant amount.) I think getting rid of Saddam was fine, but its the manner in which we did it was not.

    You're right that US contractors such as Halliburton and Bechtel are helping to rebuild Iraq. And we're paying for it. Isn't that the exact opposite of your scenario, where the country as a whole would profit from the war?

    Yeah, we're paying for it, but the only reason those companies are there are to make a profit. Shareholders would not want the companies to go in for the warm fuzzies. I know the institutional investors would throw a fit. Making a profit is fine, but having a bid awarded non-competitively and then overcharging for service is not ok. At this point, withdrawal would not be an option. Once we committed, we committed for the long haul. We're committed for billions of dollars of reconstruction, but the numbers for reconstruction keep on going up.

    Tell me how those two make sense together.

    Energy conservation is quite different from developing new technology. Energy conservation has to deal with getting people to reduce energy use. Looking at the Bush program (which looks at continued use of fossil fuel: the 80%), producing the cleaner fuel still would use non-renewable resources. Therefore, IMHO, they do make sense together.

    I think it would be appropriate to put more money into developing new ways of producing hydrogen that don't require petroleum products. e.g. more R&D.

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    Interestingly enough, and although I've been entirely unsuccessful in tracking down where I read it, there was at some point an analysis of the reasons to go to war by Paul Wolfowitz, in which he argued that if toplling Hussein were the only reason, there would not in fact be enough reason to go.

    I'm uncertain (since I'm hazy on the specifics and can't find the reference itself) whether he meant that toppling Hussein was not in and of itself enough reason, or if he meant that the public/world would not buy the invasion if that was the only reason presented.

  • brett (unverified)
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    He meant the second one. Two reasons: politics and the UN. Politics, because painting Hussein as a threat would make the war seem necessary, and the UN, because all the UN resolutions had ordered Hussein to give up his weapons. That's why they settled on WMD as the rationale for war. It was unfortunate, in my book. Not because of the eventual failure to find WMD -- nothing they could have done about that -- but because there were many reasons that would have justified the war. It was justified on humanitarian grounds alone.

    Jeff, I don't think Kerry is duplicitous. I think he's a panderer who tries to tell people what they want to hear. In late '01, everyone was still reeling from 9/11, and tough talk was in order. In '02, everyone was worrying about Hussein. In late '03, Howard Dean was gaining momentum and Kerry needed to distance himself from his war vote. Those political realities dictated his rhetoric at each of those points. He probably believed it all the time. It's not the flip-flopping that gets me; it's the straddling.

    His essential point is this: we're hooked on gas, and Bush, whose family wealth and business and social connections are all deeply oily, isn't about to try to honestly wean us from the Saudi wells.

    I do dispute that, actually. Of course his money came from oil, but the WoT demands that we reduce our dependence as much as possible, and the WoT is Bush's priority. How else do you explain the $1.2 billion hydrogen program? I don't see any evidence that Bush is trying to make money off the war, which was the implication.

    Saddam did allow inspections. And despite Bush's failure to heed the results (or even remember that they happened), they were effective.

    Sorry, Jeff, but that's just not true.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_disarmament_crisis_timeline_2001-2003

    Highlights:

    "December 19, 2002 -- UNMOVIC Chairman Hans Blix tells UNSC members that the Iraqi weapons declaration filed on December 7 "is essentially a reorganized version" of information Iraq provided UNSCOM in 1997, and that it "is not enough to create confidence" that Iraq has abandoned its WMD efforts."

    "January 27, 2003 -- Chairmen of the inspections effort report to the UN Security Council that, while Iraq has provided some access to facilities, concerns remain regarding undeclared material; inability to interview Iraqi scientists; inability to deploy aerial surveillance during inspections; and harassment of weapons inspectors."

    "February 14, 2003 -- UNMOVIC chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented their second report to the United Nations Security Council. They stated that the Iraqis had been co-operating well with the inspectors and that no weapons of mass destruction had been found, but that the Saddam Hussein regime had still to account for many banned weapons believed to have been in his arsenal."

    "February 26, 2003 -- Hans Blix stated that Iraq still has not made a "fundamental decision" to disarm, despite recent signs of increased cooperation. Specifically, Iraq has refused to destroy it's al-Samoud 2 long range missiles - a weapon system that was in violation of the UN Security Council's resolutions and the US treaty with Iraq. These missiles are deployed and mobile. Also, an R-400 aerial bomb was found that could possibly contain biological agents. Given this find, the UN Inspectors have requested access to the Al-Aziziyah weapons range to verify that all 155 R-400 bombs can be accounted for and proven destroyed. Blix also expressed skepticism over Iraq's claims to have destroyed its stockpiles of anthrax and VX nerve agent in Time magazine. Blix said he found it "a bit odd" that Iraq, with "one of the best-organized regimes in the Arab world," would claim to have no records of the destruction of these illegal substances. "I don't see that they have acquired any credibility," Blix said."

    It's quite clear in hindsight (as it was at the time) that Saddam was playing a cat-and-mouse game; he tried to comply just enough to prevent the war. He miscalculated.

    I think it would be appropriate to put more money into developing new ways of producing hydrogen that don't require petroleum products. e.g. more R&D.

    You mean like the $1.2 billion program that you pointed out above?

    Yeah, we're paying for it, but the only reason those companies are there are to make a profit.

    Uh, that's the only reason corporations exist, period. Of course they're there to make a profit, but studies have shown that they're not profiting at all. And there's no correlation between Bush "cronies" and the contracts:

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2090636/

    Who else could do that work? No one.

    I think getting rid of Saddam was fine, but its the manner in which we did it was not.

    I'm sorry, but there's no logic to this at all. What manner were we supposed to do it in? Do you think we could wave a magic wand and convince nations which have every strategic and economic incentive to resist US hegemony to go along with us? France, the UN, Germany -- they were never going to agree. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    I think history will judge the Iraq war to have been an unequivocally positive event. We removed one of the most murderous regimes on earth, we gave a major Arab population the chance to govern themselves, and we may have turned the corner on the sad state that the Middle East finds itself in. No major Arab population enjoys any of the rights that we take for granted -- freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or economic freedom. Western societies have enjoyed those rights since the Enlightenment. We take it for granted that those freedoms are the birthright of every human being, male or female. Arab governments are corrupt and their economies are moribund. There has been no prospect for change, except possibly in Iran. But if Iraq turns out the way we hope and expect, its population will enjoy all those rights. Other populations, envious, will be encouraged to agitate for more freedoms. How is this a bad thing?

    I still can't get over liberals arguing that making the Middle East more liberal is a bad thing. And I'm sorry, but "It would be a good thing if we went about it in the right way" does NOT cut it. If the cleanest war in history isn't the right way, what is?

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    I'm quite enjoying this. (Intelligent thought and critique on both sides)

    I don't think the administration went in on humanitarian grounds. If it did, I posit it was a very minor reason.

    "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in Vanity Fair magazine's July issue." source

    Wolfowitz has been shifting around the rationale for war.

    It's quite clear in hindsight (as it was at the time) that Saddam was playing a cat-and-mouse game

    True enough, but is a cat-and-mouse game reason for war?

    "Blix also said even the partial cooperation by the Iraqis would not have been possible without the presence of 200,000 U.S. troops in the area. But he said the administration "leaned on us" to produce tougher condemnations of Iraq." " source

    How else do you explain the $1.2 billion hydrogen program?

    That's fine but that's out of a budget of $1.2 trillion dollars. One tenth of one percent?

    studies have shown that they're not profiting at all

    Could you source that for me?

    As for the "Fables of Reconstruction" it was written by Daniel D. Rezner. If I'm not mistaken, wasn't he a research consultant for the RAND corporation and an unpaid foreign policy advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. In terms of Halliburton, although Cheney divested himself of monetary connections, he still likely has personal friendships. Furthermore, you should read the response made by the folks at the Center for Public Integrity.

    I'm sorry, but there's no logic to this at all. What manner were we supposed to do it in?

    A more careful and measured approach as we did with Gulf War I. An approach where there is a cohesive international coalition (including our long time allies). We should have listened to our friends, instead of squandering all the good will we had. Is US hegemony really a good thing? Even if you think it is, don't you think we should value the opinions of other countries?

    they were never going to agree

    How sure are you of that?

    Other populations, envious, will be encouraged to agitate for more freedoms. How is this a bad thing?

    Did I ever say it was a bad thing?

    I still can't get over liberals arguing that making the Middle East more liberal is a bad thing. And I'm sorry, but "It would be a good thing if we went about it in the right way" does NOT cut it.

    It does cut it. If we don't go about doing it the right way, we only serve to piss off populations. The US is the only superpower left in the world. We need to use our power wisely. If we don't, everyone will hate our guts. We're already viewed as imperialists. Over 40% of Canadian youth think we're evil.

  • brett (unverified)
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    I'm enjoying this too -- much more interesting than work.

    I don't think the administration went in on humanitarian grounds. If it did, I posit it was a very minor reason.

    I agree. My point is that it should have been a major reason. It's the only reason that matters in the long run.

    True enough, but is a cat-and-mouse game reason for war?

    Yes, because you only play that game when you have something to hide. His behavior reinforced the universally held view that he had WMD. It wasn't the fact that he was playing games; it was the fact that those games meant he still had weapons. No one thought he would be stupid enough to screw around when he didn't actually have WMD.

    That's fine but that's out of a budget of $1.2 trillion dollars. One tenth of one percent?

    Are you kidding? We are lucky to get that much, considering all the nondiscretionary spending that the government has to do: interest payments, entitlement obligations. That is more than any other administration has ever spent on it, that's for damn sure. And yet he still gets shit for it. I swear, if Bush came up with a cure for AIDS, the left would argue that he only did it to profit. To paraphrase someone smarter than I, just because George Bush says or does something doesn't mean it isn't right.

    Could you source that for me?

    Looked for it but I couldn't find it. Still, what's the alternative to using corporations? Who else has the capability to do such large-scale operations?

    A more careful and measured approach as we did with Gulf War I. An approach where there is a cohesive international coalition (including our long time allies). We should have listened to our friends, instead of squandering all the good will we had.

    I'm sorry, but this ignores geopolitical realities.

    1. France's TotalFinaElf, a huge Chirac contributor, had huge contracts with the Saddam regime, as did Russian oil and gas firms:

    Legal Hurdles

    The deals, struck in the mid-90s, were Saddam's way of trying to get out of the sanctions; if he had two Security Council members on board, he had a shot at lifting them. The end of the Saddam regime meant the end of those deals. Even Clinton recognized that France contributed to the situation that caused the war:

    1. We know now that France's BNP was making ungodly sums of money in the corrupt oil-for-food program:

    link

    1. Here's another example of the same behavior. France has oil interests in the Sudan, and for that reason promises to veto any UNSC resolution condemning the genocide. Hell, they refuse to call it genocide; to them, it's a civil war:

    link

    Not only that, but they armed the perpetrators of that genocide:

    link

    1. France is aghast at its declining influence in the world, and determined to do whatever it can to drag the US down with it. The first step was the EU; this hasn't worked, so far. It's helped, but even the aggregated countries of Europe still can't compete economically with the US.

    These were the factors driving France's opposition to the war. They were never going to agree. What could we have said or done? It's just wrong to say that we didn't try to get international help; we went to the UN and were rebuffed, even though we were enforcing UN resolutions. Those resolutions don't mean a damn thing if they can't be enforced.

    France is our enemy. Not our military enemy, but certainly our diplomatic enemy. They will work at every turn to oppose what we do, because they (correctly) see their influence in the world as waning.

    Is US hegemony really a good thing?

    It doesn't matter; that's like asking if gravity is a good thing. Hegemony is a fact, and we have to assume that it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Unless you propose that we unilaterally disarm and somehow crank down our economy to become less threatening.

    don't you think we should value the opinions of other countries?

    Of course, but we have to keep in mind that countries, like people, are motivated by background factors that we can't and shouldn't recognize as legitimate.

    Did I ever say it was a bad thing?

    No, but that's what you're saying if you're not willing to do anything about it. Closing your eyes, burying your head in the sand, and saying "war is bad" is not dealing with problems. Nor is marching.

    If we don't go about doing it the right way, we only serve to piss off populations.

    They are already pissed off, because their media/governments/elites are constantly telling them that we're their enemy, to distract them from the societal problems that we face. Should we only send male soldiers to Iraq because uncovered female soldiers offend fundamentalist Muslims? We have to do what we believe is the right thing, regardless of peer pressure. We have to recognize that not every belief held by a foreign government or population is legitimate.

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    I agree. My point is that it should have been a major reason. It's the only reason that matters in the long run.

    Yup!

    Yes, because you only play that game when you have something to hide. His behavior reinforced the universally held view that he had WMD. It wasn't the fact that he was playing games; it was the fact that those games meant he still had weapons. No one thought he would be stupid enough to screw around when he didn't actually have WMD.

    But nothing changes the fact that we still haven't found any.

    Just because George Bush says or does something doesn't mean it isn't right.

    That's absolutely correct. But I don't agree with him on a decent number of issues.

    Still, what's the alternative to using corporations?

    I didn't wholesale condemn all corporations, nor did I say that corporations shouldn't be doing it. I mentioned specific corporations. My contention was>

    Making a profit is fine, but having a bid awarded non-competitively and then overcharging for service is not ok.

    Are you kidding? We are lucky to get that much, considering all the nondiscretionary spending that the government has to do: interest payments, entitlement obligations.

    On the other hand, I think it is a matter of national security. Thus, I think there should be more resources put toward it. It's still a pittance when compared to the $399.1 billion requested for the military in fiscal year 2004 ($379.9 billion for the Defense Department and $19.3 billion for the nuclear weapons functions of the Department of Energy).

    I'm sorry, but this ignores geopolitical realities.

    If Saddam hadn't invaded Kuwait in the 1990's we'd be in the exact same position. We'd still be supporting a corrupt regime. You can't say we have clean hands. We played Iran and Iraq off against each other. We provided dual use equipment to Iraq. Helicopters that were supposed to spray crops were used to spray the Kurds. We still support oppressive regimes likes the Saudis.

    The reality is that another one of the reasons that we invaded was to extend our sphere of influence. Again, the permanent bases, the excellent geographic location, the oil, we had to be the big boys on the block.

    You only mention France and Russia. How about the other countries?

    It doesn't matter

    You still didn't answer my question. Is hegemony a good thing? Should power concentrate in one country. Should power be shared? Doesn't lack of power breed envy and anger?

    Of course, but we have to keep in mind that countries, like people, are motivated by background factors that we can't and shouldn't recognize as legitimate.

    Isn't that the same idea of why we question our leaders in the US?

    No, but that's what you're saying if you're not willing to do anything about it. Closing your eyes, burying your head in the sand, and saying "war is bad" is not dealing with problems. Nor is marching.

    I never said that. I said that the launch of the attack was premature and the basis on which it was launched was flawed.

    Should we only send male soldiers to Iraq because uncovered female soldiers offend fundamentalist Muslims? We have to do what we believe is the right thing, regardless of peer pressure.

    We live in a global society. It's dangerous when we get into what "we" believe is the right thing. Cultures are different, and we must take that into consideration. I only say "in consideration," and I am not saying that we must accept every tenant.

    <h2>We can't bury our own heads in the sand when it comes to world opinion. This world is too damn small.</h2>

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