Think of this as Volume 11, Number 33 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
War is not a romantic struggle between soldiers. It is not the strategy or tactics of generals. It is a life-and-death struggle between nations, between societies.
The stronger economy wins.
This is not news. This is taught to every American child, north and south, when history class turns to the Civil War. Generals and esprit held the Confederacy together for a while, but eventually it was ground down, methodically, by Grant and Sherman, whose most famous saying was "War is all hell."
It still is.
Thus, the Georgia War offers Americans an enormous opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime teaching moment, a chance to crush the Republican Party of Joe McCarthy, of Richard Nixon, of Ronald Reagan, of George Bush and John McCain once and for all.
For American democracy to thrive, the Republican Party which emerges from its next exile must be very different from today's. And the difference should be this lesson, sweeping the neo-cons into the dustbin of history.
We can do this if we don't shrink from it. We can do this if we teach the lesson, and if we give our fellow countrymen credit for being able to learn it. Yes, we can. And yes, we must.
Start with a simple sentence. There are other ways to win wars.
Russia could not have launched this attack 10 years ago, when oil was $10/barrel and its exports were minimal. Today it can sweep away Georgia easily, because oil is $120/barrel. This gave Putin the money to rebuild his military, and the economic leverage to defy Europe.
But this can, should and must be a temporary advantage. The way we roll Russia back is by fighting the War Against Oil here at home. Energy independence, based on wind, solar energy, geothermal supplies, and hydrogen, can and will make oil and gas worthless. But only if we engage in the work with the same energy we brought to our previous wars.
That energy was economic energy. Free societies can summon more of that energy than any other. Freedom to learn, freedom to innovate, freedom to question, freedom to fail. The best markets are a continuous argument, a host of theories and experiments being run. A wise government will focus those markets on where they need to go, and police those markets to assure the fairest results.
This is why Bush has driven us into the ditch, why McCain wants to drive us further into it. Conservative ideology sees all government as evil, thus the people's steering wheel is broken, tossed aside.
The Bush Administration also sees the world as a zero-sum game, a military struggle for resources. They fought in Iraq to fight in Iraq. It's a war for oil, based on the mistaken belief that discipline can be imposed, that people must be led and forced to follow.
But it's McCain's reaction to Georgia that's really key here. McCain wants to go to war. McCain wants to kill Russians. Killing Russians won't win the war.
We win this war the way we won the Cold War. Through our economy. We unleash our creativity, our liberty, and our markets to solve the economic puzzle oil has given us, the puzzle Putin is taking advantage of. Putin's Russia is not very different from Yeltsin's or even Gorbachev's. Think of Saudi Arabia as a military, rather than a religious, dictatorship and you've got the picture.
Once you realize how hollow Putin's power really is, McCain's bluster becomes a joke, and a rather sad one. The choice then becomes obvious.
Still, we face the choice. A choice of tactics. Do we fight as we fought before, or as our enemies did? Do we fight as Democrats, with liberty as our weapon and dissent as our strength? Or do we fight it as the Republicans want, which is the way America's enemies have fought for centuries?
Make the choice explicit. Make the choice simple. Demand that the choice be made.
To begin the War Against Oil we must first win this struggle at home.