Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Shock, awe and Hobbes have backfired on America's neocons

What is the reason for the Iraq war? Was it an altruistic exercise in helping a poor oppressed people join the community of enlightened Democacry countries? Naw, because if it were then why doesn't the U.S. launch similar wars on other oppressive countries? There's a bigger picture going on and it's more than a coincidence that the plan by the Project for a New American Century to reshape the world begins in the heart of the Middle East, where the oil is. And, at the same time, there is a game afoot to bring oil from Central Asia to market, with the chosen U.S. path being a pipeline built through Afghanistan. And why did we go to war in Afghanistan? If it was about Osama, then why have we let Osama and the other leaders get away?

That's what is implied from this article: Shock, awe and Hobbes have backfired on America's neocons Iraq has shown the hubris of a geostrategy that welds the philosophy of the Leviathan to military and technological power (Richard Drayton, Wednesday December 28, 2005, The Guardian)

He starts out with an observation about technology.

Ex-hippies talked of a wired age of Aquarius. The fall of the Berlin wall and the rise of the internet, we were told, had ushered in Adam Smith's dream of overflowing abundance, expanding liberty and perpetual peace. Fukuyama speculated that history was over, leaving us just to hoard and spend. Technology meant a new paradigm of constant growth without inflation or recession.

I remember that was the dream floating about during the .COM bubble in the late 90's. But, this kind of thinking is in denial of a real problem. The driving force of the expansion of technology is not technology, it is oil and natural gas. The energy used to drive the technological marvels are these fossil fuels whose use is destroying our environment and which are becoming scarcer by the day.

The public has been misled to believe the technology will keep flowing forever. But that promise is based (today) on fossil fuels.

The problem with that picture is it appears the oil is running out. There is a model put together decades ago which describes the availability of oil. The model shows an unnavoidable fact, that at some point in the future the production capacity of oil will "peak" and after that oil will inexorably decline. There are many indications we are at or near the peak, today.

The rest of the article goes into describing megalomaniacs who have the capabilities to act out their megalomania. The writings of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) show them to be megalomaniacs. The PNAC is a think-tank whose founding members are today holding positions of high power in Washington DC (that is, Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Bremer, Jeb Bush, etc). In the mid-90's the PNAC published a series of position papers describing the need of America to assert global dominance, ensuring a Pax Americana. The justification was that "we" are the worlds sole remaining superpower, and that we had to use our strength to take the moral high ground and that it was our duty to reshape the world in our image.

According to this article these people learned certain strategies from the classics of literature:

or the American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. Neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the recently indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby, learned from Leo Strauss that a strong and wise minority of humans had to rule over the weak majority through deception and fear, rather than persuasion or compromise. They read Le Bon and Freud on the relationship of crowds to authority. But most of all they loved Hobbes's Leviathan. While Hobbes saw authority as free men's chosen solution to the imperfections of anarchy, his 21st century heirs seek to create the fear that led to submission. And technology would make it possible and beautiful.

The technology that is supposed to free us all, is also these peoples weapon used to dominate us all.

The vision they've had, and which Rumsfield has been busily implementing in the Defense Department, is that high technology weaponry can be used to create battlefields with few soldiers. Hence we have unmanned aircraft doing both surveillance and firing weapons, we have a rise in robotic tanks, we have a global satellite system delivering GPS positioning coordinates and others spying on everybody's activities. The next time you're in the back yard making love with your sweetie, think about the Pentagon watching you.

But their vision missed something which Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated. Satellites in the sky can't stop the acts of individuals. In Afghanistan the leaders made their escape so they could make new plots in the future. In Iraq the U.S. forces have been hobbled by the improvised explosive device (IED) in ways that satellites cannot see or prevent.