Obama: “Bin Laden is dead”… Me: “So What?”

In light of everything that’s been going on in the Middle East and North Africa over the last week, I have to comment.

First of all, as those who know me or have read my scribbling over the years are aware, I’ve long maintained that the idea of a Western-style democracy successfully taking hold in the Muslim/Arab world is a pipe dream. There are no cultural underpinnings to support such an enterprise, and in fact their cultural and religious foundations are antithetical to the concept.

Over the years I’ve written several essays on the subject, and you can read them here, here,  here, and here.

Our country suffers from two deadly weaknesses in our approach to the problems in the region. The first is that, with the exception of Reagan, no one inside the Beltway in post-Vietnam history has had Clue One about how the Arab/Muslim mind works. They think, in spite of all the historical evidence to the contrary, that the prevailing mindset is no different from our own. I think you actually have to have lived in the region to realize how wrong that idea really is. I spent my high school years in Iran, and I can’t imagine a more foolish concept.

The second weakness is our dependence on oil from the region. Unquestionably, that limits our options, and forces us into “alliances” that are contrary to our own national self-interests. A perfect example is our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Though that country is perhaps less anti-Western than others, they’re certainly not our friends in the way that a country like the UK is, for example. We’re simply a market for their product: oil. They’re still the source for international Wahabiism, and terrorists such as bin Laden draw much of their financial support from sources within that country. Don’t fool yourselves; they’re not our allies in the real sense of the word.

Which brings us to Obama. Obama is the “perfect storm” of ignorance of the region coupled with stupidly utopian idealism coupled with a refusal to take any realistic actions to lessen our dependence on oil from the region. A disastrous trifecta of insane policy.

As I’ve said before (here, here and here) we’re sitting on an ocean of oil we’re just letting sit in the ground purely for political reasons. We have more known and recoverable oil than any other nation on the planet; three times as much as Saudi Arabia. The solution to our “energy dependence” problem is very simple: Drill, baby, drill!

But we can’t do that because the amateur in the Oval Office won’t allow it. The pump price of gasoline has doubled since Obama took office, but he’s stuck on stupid when it comes to oil, and would rather hitch his wagon to fantasies about “alternative energies” that don’t even exist at this point in time, rather than actually address the problem with the obvious and easy solutions that already do exist.

All we have to do is drill our own oil to free us from having to worry about the actions being taken by Muslim extremists who seem to spend their whole lives being “offended” by everything under the sun. We could simply flip them off and have done with it.

And just exactly what are the policies being implemented by Obama in the Muslim/Arab world? They’re a repeat of the exact same policies that worked so well under “Peanut Jimmy” Carter! Remember those good old days?

Carter proved how “tough” he was by engineering the downfall of the Shah of Iran, and his replacement by Ayatollah Khomeini, and look how well that turned out. Obama proved how tough he was by “killing bin Laden” and facilitating the “Arab Spring”, and look how well that’s turning out. Obama is Carter Redux. Worse, actually, because he’s refused to learn the lessons of history, and is repeating the same stupid actions that have already proven to be disastrous in the past.

If we insist on remaining engaged with the Arab/Muslim world, we have to do so from a position of unyielding strength and pragmatism that isn’t filtered through rose-colored lenses that project a vision of Western values that doesn’t exist in the region. We have to use our aid dollars as both a carrot and a stick. We have to find some pro-Western strongmen, and back them. Maybe over time a foundation can be laid that will allow Western-style democracies to develop there, but the key words are “over time”. A long time, probably generations at least.

At this time, we’re viewed in the Muslim/Arab world as being paper tigers; easy and impotent targets that never respond to provocation. In that world, that’s fatal. Until we learn that lesson and act accordingly, attacks against our interests and outposts will continue. It’s just that simple.

These are all lessons that are clear to see. Obama has proven to be an epic failure in this arena. His response has been to thrash around impotently, throwing blame hither and yon, then promptly getting back to the only activity he’s reliably pursued throughout his presidency (other than playing golf), campaigning for re-election. The current debacle in the region doesn’t seem to interest him as anything more important than just a minor campaign delay.

Good. Grief.

© Brian Baker 2012

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Scum of the Earth

This essay is something of a companion piece to my last one, in which we explored the fallacy of the leftist dogma of “alternative energy” solutions to oil and gas prices. Since I wrote that piece, Dear Leader Obama has weighed in with his proposal for a solution to the problem.

Algae.

Yep. That’s right. The Brilliant One has pinpointed pond scum as the way to “energy independence”.

“We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae… Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States.” Dear Leader in a speech at Miami University. (Quote from IER)

Well, maybe there’s something to that. After all, where does oil come from? The transformation of organic matter into oil. We know we can create biofuels from used cooking oil. So maybe there’s something to this, right? I decided to look into it.

I went to the website of the Institute for Energy Research (Link) and lo and behold, they had an article on just that topic (Here). It seems that from 1978 to 1996 the Department of Energy funded research into the development of algae – pond scum – as an alternative fuel source. But they ran into several problems.

To meet 100% of our fuel needs would take algae farms that would cover an area the size of the state of North Dakota. Even if we set a target of meeting only 17% of our fuel needs – per Dear Leader’s speech – that still requires farms that would equal an area the size of South Carolina. Now, I doubt that the residents of either state would be too keen on evacuating just to make room for scum farms, so someplace would have to be found to grow the stuff.

Remember, we’re talking pond scum, so it would have to be in the South, because the stuff won’t grow in the cold. It would have to be warm all year round. Which means we’d probably have to fill up our southern deserts with scum farms. Wouldn’t that disrupt the habitats of some turtles or something? Oh, well, a problem for another day.

Of course, scum needs water in which to grow. A lot of water. About 350 gallons of water for each gallon of scum oil. Where’s that going to come from? Especially in the desert? Well… maybe we can locate these scum farms near the rivers instead of in the deserts. But now we’re back to inhabited areas again. Are those people going to be any more willing than the Dakotans and Carolinians to just up and move away to make room for the scum?

Then we’re going to need a whole new technological infrastructure – refineries – to process that green stuff into stuff you can put in your car. You can’t refine scum in an oil refinery. Oh, no! Even more disruption of the environment!

That’s the problem with these hare-brained ideas that come from the leftists: they’re … well… hare-brained.

© Brian Baker 2012