by Jan Baughman
(Swans - May 5, 2008) It is was a somber reminder on the 5th anniversary of Mission Accomplished that despite what we who care or dare know about the motives behind the war, the mainstream media continued its revisionist history of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Granted, USA Today is mainstream media lite, but its editorial of that day is not to be taken lightly, as it criticized the "windfall" oil profits that Iraq enjoys while we, the US of A, suffer because of the sacrifices we have made in the name of "fighting, reconstruction and training Iraqi troops." The editorial criticizes Iraq for not "picking up the tab" for the costly, self-serving war in which we are systematically destroying the country.
Perhaps most galling is the energy imbalance. American forces in Iraq are paying $153 million a month -- $3.23 a gallon -- for gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel. Iraq, meanwhile, sits atop the world's fourth largest oil reserves. The nation does lack refining capacity and has to send the oil abroad. But its drivers pay a subsidized cost of $1.30 a gallon for their gasoline, and the U.S. military deserves a comparable discount.
Not mentioned in the editorial was that "All the U.S. tanks, planes and ships guzzle 340,000 barrels of oil a day, making the American military the single-largest purchaser and consumer of oil in the world." Nor did they consider that "The Department of Defense (DoD) per capita energy consumption of 524 trillion Btu is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa." Such facts reveal the horror of John McCain's political faux pas, having dared to vocalize the unspoken dirty little secret when he claimed his energy policy would prevent us from entering into conflict again in the Middle East -- meaning we did not invade Iraq the first time to liberate Kuwait; or the second time to save the world from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and spread democracy to the Middle East, but rather, because of America's energy policy.
Armed with the facts, one could conclude that the military uses a lot of oil, America goes to war to secure access to oil, oil consumption increases during war so the military needs even more oil; therefore, if we reduced the military and put an end to endless war, we'd reduce our dependence on oil...
But all that brings up another dirty little fact that said editorial failed to mention when it criticized Iraq's "windfall" oil profits, the so-called energy imbalance, and the price per gallon our military pays for gasoline in Iraq. Chevron, America's second-largest oil company, saw its first quarter profits up 10 percent over last year -- $5.17 billion on sales revenues that increased 37 percent to $65,946,000,000, while we are paying here in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Chevron, $4 per gallon, and actually $4.19 at the one and only gas station in Boonville. Do American civilians deserve a "comparable discount"? Should US oil company revenues be used to fund the reconstruction of America's crumbling infrastructure? Better yet, can we set the military-industrial complex right and use oil profits to finance the Department of Defense? Such a move just might alter the psychology in which it's cool to drive a Hummer and it's considered a bold move to require US auto manufacturers to build a fleet that averages 35 miles per gallon -- by the year 2020, while a B-52 bomber, whether dropping bombs in Operation Iraqi Freedom or spewing propaganda at NASCAR race flyovers consumes 3,300 gallons of fuel per hour.
And yet, this same issue of USA Today contained a full-page ad for Harley-Davidson on the back of the Money section. The ad featured the silhouette of a man on a Harley in front of a backdrop of red and white wavy stripes and the following text in the image of the American flag, the first sentence in blue text positioned as if the stars and the remaining text in red forming the red stripes:
We don't do fear. Over the last 105 years in the saddle, we've seen wars, conflicts, depression, recession, resistance, and revolutions. We've watched a thousand hand-wringing pundits disappear in our rear-view mirror. But every time, this country has come out stronger than before. Because chrome and asphalt put distance between you and whatever the world can throw at you. Freedom and wind outlast hard times. And the rumble of an engine drowns out all the spin on the evening news. If 105 years have proved one thing, it's that fear sucks and it doesn't last long.
So screw it, let's ride.
Agree? Then visit harley-davidson.com/screwit
Is there any hope for an attitude adjustment in this context? How high do the price of gasoline and the death toll have to go before we realize that no matter how much money, oil, propaganda, and psychiatrists we dedicate to the Iraq War, the mission will never be accomplished, because the mission is to continue, whether in this theater of operations or the next, in order to fuel our appetite for oil? And the advice we get, which in this case is anything but subliminal, is: Ignore the problems, life goes on, now get out and drive.
"Our view on war costs: Iraq reaps $70B oil windfall as U.S. drivers pay at pump," USA Today Editorial, May 1, 2008
"Military's Oil Needs Not Deterred by Price Spike," by Jeff Brady, November 14, 2007, National Public Radio
Top 5 facts on US Military Oil Consumption"
"Chevron notches record first-quarter profit," by David R. Baker, Saturday, May 3, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle
"Government Sets New Fuel Economy Standard," April 22, 2008, The New York Times
Harley-Davidson Screw It Campaign