To adherents of the outgoing Thesis, this is a war over oil. The struggle of Americans to control this vital resource has been ongoing since 1933. The union between Texas and Saudi Arabia dates to 1936, and Aramco, the Arab-American Oil Co., to 1944. Hydrocarbons have been seen as essential to nation-building since the 18th century.
In view of such a long history, it is an extraordinary, wrenching thing to imagine that we must now begin an economic and social war against oil, and against all forms of hydrocarbon energy.
But that is the task before us.
The urgency of the task should no longer be subject to question, even by those who doubt the reality of global warming. Maintaining our economy while cutting imports of oil will have enormous benefits across the board. It puts downward pressure on global oil prices, reducing the returns of Iran and of Venezuela, weakening their governments. It results in the creation of technology that can be re-sold, cutting our debts to China, and enabling exports to India.
There are other advantages. Such investments can help drive American technology, and with it, justify investments in education. It concentrates us on domestic events, and on areas where there is consensus.
Imagine what we can start talking about when we truly engage in the War Against Oil.
We can talk about the hydrogen cycle, and solar technology. We can talk about Buckytubes, about increasing the efficiency of our electrical grid. We can talk about harnessing the wind and the heat of the Earth. We can talk about lower-power servers, about more efficient light bulbs, about insulation. There is much to learn, much to do, and while every investment will not bring an immediate return, each will bring a long-term return.
But none of that can begin until the present era is ended.
None of that can begin until we end the War for Oil and begin, in earnest, the War Against Oil.
Regardless of what happens in Iraq, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or Nigeria, or Venezuela, oil will be offered to the world market, and it will fetch some price. We not only lack the capacity to control that price any longer, we no longer have an incentive to do so. The higher its price, the greater the value of each barrel we can substitute for. The lower its price, the greater our leverage in international affairs.
But every moment we delay is a moment lost, it is billions of dollars lost, it is lives lost, not just on the battlefield but in years to come, in storms, in rising sea levels, and in other calamities we can't yet comprehend.
It is that tragedy I weep for. I weep for my planet, for my children, for grandchildren yet unborn. Every moment that passes in this War for Oil, every moment lost in the War Against Oil, piles up more debt from the present and adds more to our future.
But this is the price we pay for our long lives. It is the fact of longevity, and the numbers of Baby Boomers whose political views were forged by the Nixon Thesis of Conflict and the Culture Wars that have followed ever-after, that gave us George W. Bush. He is our creation, he is of us, he is us.
In rejecting the Culture War and taking up the War Against Oil, we must reject lessons learned over most of our lives. This is incredibly difficult, and the price of learning the lesson in blood and treasure, though excruciating, is nevertheless necessary.
May it never be forgotten.