Retired Army Colonel: "Our biggest problems are within"
I recently came across this Bill Moyers interview with Andrew J. Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who served in both Vietnam and the first Gulf War. Bacevich was also a professor of mine at Boston University, and helped me understand how militarism has grown to consume so much of American life.
The entire interview transcript is worth reading, but if you read only part, this is what grabs me as most important:
The most obvious, the blindingly obviously question, is energy. It's oil. I think historians a hundred years from now will puzzle over how it could be that the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, as far back as the early 1970s, came to recognize that dependence on foreign oil was a problem, posed a threat, comprised our freedom of action.
How every President from Richard Nixon down to the present one, President Bush, declared, "We're gonna fix this problem." None of them did. And the reason we are in Iraq today is because the Persian Gulf is at the center of the world's oil reserves. I don't mean that we invaded Iraq on behalf of big oil, but the Persian Gulf region would have zero strategic significance, were it not for the fact that that's where the oil is.
Back in 1980, I think, President Carter, in many respects when he declared the Carter Doctrine, and said that henceforth, the Persian Gulf had enormous strategic significance to the United States and the United States is not going to permit any other country to control that region of the world.
And that set in motion a set of actions that has produced the militarization of U.S. policy, ever deeper U.S. military involvement in the region, and in essence, has postponed that day of reckoning when we need to understand the imperative of having an energy policy, and trying to restore some semblance of energy independence.
Because of our energy policy, we are unable to think rationally when it comes to the Middle East. The United States has repeatedly had to put our stake in with the likes of Pervez Musharraf and Ahmad Chalabi, not to mention, of course, the decade in which we provided military aid to Saddam Hussein. Without Americans rethinking our lifestyles, we will continue to create wars in order to provide enough material goods for those lifestyles.
Running as a Green candidate has caused me to look in the mirror about my own activities. I walk to the grocery store. I bike the five miles to my job nearly every day. I run the dishwasher sparingly, if I don't wash the dishes by hand. I don't list these things as a way of showing off, because there is much more that I can do to improve my consumption. I am offering myself up as an example of little things that one can do to make a big change. Because I bike, I'm not only healthier, but I also get a good laugh as I bike by a gas station, and I spend less than $50 a month on gas.
To live Green is to be responsible for your actions and your impact on the world around you. It is a less wasteful way to live, and as the saying goes, "Waste not, want not." If we as a nation can teach ourselves to want less, to be responsible for our actions, then our wants will not expand into the Middle East.