Friday, January 06, 2006

And Tom Friedman Gets It Too

Mind-blowingly spot on column by Tom Friedman in today's NYT.
What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying - all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a "personal virtue," as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil - thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people.

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy - wind, solar, biofuels - rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American.
We've now just entered another election year -- one in which it's possible (barely possible, but possible) that one or both houses of Congress may turn over, a fact that makes it an important election year. Are the chances good that anyone, anyone running in any of the 468 congressional elections this year will speak out on this subject?

Friedman is right. All the talk about "security" that the Bush Administration makes pales in significance to this one. We are utterly dependent upon oil for our way of life -- hell, for our very civilization. Oil is a diminishing commodity for which we are increasingly dependent upon unstable foreign governments in unstable regions. Unless we want to step up the pace of oil wars in the future, somebody needs to step up to the plate and lead on this issue.

468 elections. Any takers?


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