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October 26, 2004
BLOOD FOR OIL: William F Buckley says it's a fair trade
If you are willing to die in order to protect your local hospital, then you must be willing to die for oil, because without electricity, your hospital won't take you beyond a surgeon's scalpel, and a surgeon is helpless without illumination, which is provided (in many places) by oil.
To say that we must not fight for oil is utter cant. To fight for oil is to fight in order to maintain such sovereignty as we exercise over the natural world. Socialism plus electricity, Lenin said at the outset of the Soviet revolution, would usher in the ideal state. He was wrong about socialism but not about electricity. Electricity gives us whatever leverage we have over nature.
To flit on airily about an unwillingness to fight for oil suggests an indifference to the alleviation of poverty at the next level after bread and water. Throw in, perhaps, the wheel. That too is an indispensable scaffolding of human power over nature. But then comes all the power not generated by the muscles of human beings and beasts of burden.
Oddly, those who speak so lightly about oil are often the most reluctant to explore seriously alternatives to it. In the history of discovery, only one such has materialized, which is nuclear power. Although nuclear power proceeds inconspicuously to light most of the lamps in France and promises to do as much in China, a mix of superstition and Luddism stands in the way of developing the nuclear alternative here.
Meanwhile, we must get on with oil, and the reserves of it are diminishing, and such great storehouses of oil as exist are mostly in the Middle East. The idea that our effort in Iraq is motivated by lust for its oil fields is easily dispelled by asking who is today profiting from such oil as is being produced in Iraq? The answer is: the Iraqis. The great need now is for increased security forces deployed to protect the oil from the nihilists and from those who reduce any consideration of oil to politics. What is achieved, that any sober judgment will approve of, by the destruction of oil fields, the kind of thing that Saddam Hussein tried to do in Kuwait in 1991?