Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald offers his impressions of President Bush’s State of the Union Address last night:
I just watched the depressing spectacle. The smug speaker. Not a hint of recognition. The “noble faith.” Those who would misuse that “noble faith.” The cure-all of “freedom” and “democracy” and America’s duty to bring that “freedom” and “democracy” to the whole wide world. Freedom on the March in Egypt, Lebanon. Democracy at work, quickly blurred, among something called the “Palestinian people.” Staying the course in Iraq. Helping the “Iraqi people” who, in finding “freedom,” would naturally come to desire what all those who have found “freedom” have come to desire. Peace, justice, the American way. How true. From Moscow to Beijing, everyone is embracing the same thing. This means, of course, only one thing: Economic Man, homo economicus, who now is the perfect man, al-insan al-kamil, the model of all our striving.
Great applause. Applause lines, at which everyone (or sometimes just the Republicans, or on one occasion just the Democrats) rose in stupid appreciation of a stupid speech by a stupid man. How could they stand it? I thought of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and how they delivered their own eloquent speeches, that they wrote themselves, with no cheap “applause lines” and no equally cheap rising to applaud those cheap applause lines. What an undignified farce it has all become.
The great energy plan? Oh, if we put the pitiful amounts left over from Bringing Democracy to the Muslim World (put Albert Brooks in charge, for god’s sake, he can’t do worse than is now being done) to work in cleaning coal-fired smokestacks, and the nuclear and solar and wind energy that brought applause, we might — this is our great goal — diminish by 75% our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
And all this by the year — I waited, thinking he might say 2010, or possibly even 2012 — 2025. Twenty years to go, at a trillion or so a year, flowing into OPEC pockets. This cannot be. This must not be.
Twenty to thirty years to free ourselves from oil. 2025. And how bitter it is to realize, through a simple calculation, what has been lost by failing to comprehend either the nature of Islam and of Muslim believers, and therefore of the uses to which, inevitably, OPEC revenues would be put. And further, how much time has been lost by the willingness to believe that there were “allies” among the Arabs and Muslims, and that chief among those “allies” was that “staunch ally” Saudi Arabia. And we knew it was true because an army of Westerners, ex-diplomats, ex-intelligence agents, public relations men, businessmen of every doubtful sort angling for Saudi contracts, politicians on the Saudi take or make, kept telling us that it was so. And not one of them has been hauled before Congress. Not one of them has been investigated or has been the subject of books. Not one of them has been forced to disgorge his money or has had to face any charges or any public disgrace. Yet all this is needed, if the treasonous farce is not, in a less open fashion, to continue even now.
So it is now going to be, in Bush’s scheme, 20 years hence. But what if the government had been led by people who saw things aright, and had begun with a real energy plan in 1973, thirty-three years ago? We might now have no need for any oil from the Middle East. And what’s more, had we taxed gasoline and taxed oil in other ways, we might have funded alternative energy programs that, in turn, by now might have made advances, expressed as lower costs. And that would have allowed the export of such technology around the world, to India and to China as well, and thus further cut down on the need by others for buying oil and thus, unwittingly or unwillingly, supporting the Jihad.
Wormwood and gall.
And besides, we can’t continue like this with fossil fuels for other reasons. Our rulers have got to start listening to scientists on this matter. This is above, beyond, before, behind, all political and economic calculation.
If Bush wants an American Burden, let it be to find a way to end reliance on fossil fuels, and at the same time, to convince people to locate and derive the source of their happiness in less energy-intensive pursuits. Start, say, with instilling an interest in language, in playing with it as she is spoken, in admiring it as she is written. How’s that for an old idea whose time has come once again? And then in studying the laws of nature, possibly beginning with a little taxonomic Latin to enliven those admiring walks in the woods. No more making fun of Muir or Thoreau.
Get with the program.