FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Alternative Power

As part of a national day of action, hundreds of people marched in downtown Washington, D.C. this morning to protest five years of the Iraq war and occupation. They blocked traffic and sought to highlight the Washington institutions that have enabled the long-running, criminal and disastrous war.

A group of protesters gathered outside of the American Petroleum Institute (API), for what was called a celebration of an expected announcement that API will change its name to the Alternative Power Institute.

Said a mocking release from the protesters: “Its first act as the new API is anticipated to be the notification of every member of the United States House and Senate whom it has legally bribed in recent years that, in light of API’s just announced transition to promotion of renewable energy technologies, there is no further requirement to fund the occupation of Iraq.”

This is parody with a purpose.

What if in fact the United States was no longer addicted to oil? Can anyone seriously believe the United States would have invaded Iraq? Alan Greenspan among others has acknowledged that guaranteeing the Middle Eastern supply of oil was the underlying rationale for the war.

What if in fact the oil industry — and that of other fossil fuel industries — ceded its political power (or if that power was taken away)?

Suddenly, the transition to a sustainable energy future would be much more achievable.

The United States, and the world, needs a massive infusion of resources into energy efficiency, renewable energy technology deployment, and research into new efficiency and renewable technologies.

We face financial and technological challenges of an enormous scale.

But the threshold problem is political. Governments are not doing what they can — and that which scientists say must be done immediately — because of the balance of power. Too much power for Big Oil, the auto companies, the utilities and coal companies. Too little power mobilized by the people in order to save the planet.

Since publication of Ron Suskind’s 2004 New York Times magazine article, it has been commonplace to ridicule the Bush administration for not living in the “reality-based” world. I confess to having engaged in this guilty pleasure myself.

But in fact the famous Bush aide quote mocking “the reality-based community” deserves at least as much emulation as ridicule. It wasn’t a comment about faith versus reality, it was a statement of a political philosophy and commitment: not to be constrained by apparent political or other restraints, but to act decisively to make history.

Here is what Suskind wrote:

“The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'”

OK, there is a degree to which this quote suggests that maybe even the laws of nature can be overcome with enough willpower, but essentially the Bush adviser was saying that the administration’s mission is not to accept reality, but to make it. There is a something to be learned here.

One lesson that can be drawn from the fifth anniversary of the shameful Iraq war, as well as from the recent Federal Reserve actions to uphold the financial system, is that the United States can find the money to do things it believes important. There are real fiscal limits, but the spectacular wealth of the United States gives it the power to find astounding resources for top priorities.

The federal government has spent $700 billion to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, on a mission leading to the deaths of 4,000 U.S. soldiers and the maiming of thousands more. The Federal Reserve has conjured $200 billion to keep Wall Street functioning.

Can there be any doubt that the United States could, tomorrow, begin spending $100 billion a year — or much more — to address global warming?

We can only hope that today’s demonstration at API is an early, small step, taking us to alternative power — a new political balance of power and a new and urgently felt commitment to alternative energy investment and deployment.

ROBERT WEISSMAN is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor and director of Essential Action.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

ROBERT WEISSMAN is president of Public Citizen.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail