Progressive Writers Bloc

Look in the Mirror

Uncle Bill Warner

Watching the movie "Syriana" about the complicity of the CIA and the Oil interests made me think about the discrepancies between what we say and what we do. The film points out that we pass laws against all kinds of things, and then choose corruption and violence to make the system work, and that the standard of living we enjoy is connected with every rotten thing we are engaged in worldwide. It is comfortable to condemn the hypocrites and liars from the president on down and blame them for cruel foreign interventions, but all of us, liberals and conservatives alike need to start considering if we are part of the solution or part of the problem. 9-11 did not happen in a vacuum. We have a huge military presence in someone else's country (Saudi Arabia) and prop up the corrupt royal family because they do the bidding of our oil companies. Bin Laden said he wanted us out of his country, remember? Are we indirectly to blame for demanding a cheap, reliable supply of oil out of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela, and trying to manipulate their governments for our own benefit?

Back in the days when I was teaching in the San Fernando Valley, I took a field trip (on bicycles) with my students to the Valley Steam Plant, which provided electricity for the area. In case you haven't thought about it, every time you turn on a light bulb or TV, you are creating demand for electricity, which has to come from somewhere. The Valley Steam Plant generated electricity by burning oil, "light bunker crude" shipped all the way across the Pacific Ocean from Indonesia (California oil is too high in sulfur, and makes too much smog).

Now, it just so happens that we were supplying massive military aid to the repressive and murderous dictator in Indonesia, General Suharto. Might we have been supporting the general because of his promise to keep the cheap oil coming? I'll let you figure it out. We kept switching on the lights, driving our watching TV, and lighting our streets without a thought of the price paid by the Indonesian people.

John Perkins ("Confessions of an Economic Hit Man") worked to subvert and enslave Third World countries by promising them wealth from big projects they could not afford based on phony information, which put them into debt slavery to U.S. economic interests with loans they could never pay off, the burden falling on their people. Profits over people again. And we all benefited from their poverty.

We have supported undemocratic ruling classes in country after country, often to the point of training death squads to oppose governments that interfered U.S. corporate profits. We pretend to want to bring democracy around the world, but participated in the overthrow and murder of Salvador Allende, the democratically-elected President of Chile. Once a country gets "uppity" (read: for its own interests as opposed to ours) we try and rig their elections, and if that fails, we send in the jackals. If that does not work, we send the Marines. Still believe the first Gulf War was about liberating Kuwait and not about oil?

Perhaps it is time that we acknowledge the fact that we benefit from the cheap labor and resources in the countries where we support evil. Let's admit that we are not in Iraq, Nigeria, Indonesia (and trying to take over Venezuela) for altruistic purposes. Until you admit to what we are, you will never understand why so many people hate us. Don't blame Bush and Cheney. They are merely doing our dirty work. Its not just oil, but that will do to illustrate my point. Look in the mirror, friend.

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