So, how do you like your war? : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Happy with the results so far?

Doesn't seem much of a war when one death of a special ops guy makes front page headlines coast to coast. Doesn't a real war involve more than a few casualties? Bush and company also don't seem to be too concerned with invading Iraq, and the early reports of Saddam's role in meeting with the WTC attackers seems to have disappeared from the news, I wonder why that is? Is that because if we actually have to "Route out terrorism where ever it hides" in places like say oh, Iraq, the American public might show what little patience it has for what a real war entails? Most of the WTC attackers were Saudi nationals, does anyone here expect that we will do ANYTHING that might upset the Saudi government? Bear in mind that someday monkeys might fly out of my ass too.

Anyway, the entire situation strikes me as such a terrible waste. Fine American soldiers losing their lives, and billions of dollars in costs. Last Thursday Bush signed a military spending bill of $317.2 BILLION dollars, including $20 billion for the war in Afghanistan, and he is expected to seek billions more for other spending in relation to the 9-11 attack. And why were we attacked anyway? Because Bin Ladin didn't like the fact that we have such a buddy-buddy role in his homeland of Saudi Arabia. I frankly don't much care for it either, but not for the same reason as Osama.

I think we are FAR too dependent on foreign oil. We've already fought one huge war in the last decade over oil, and that war cost us billions of dollars too. Billions in Kuwait, billions in Afghanistan, and billions more to go. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. And all because we need gas to run our cars and oil to heat our homes, but mostly it's because I need lots and lots of gas to run my Ford Expedition and F-250 pick-up, heehee.

Anyway, back to my rant. The Clinton administration spent $1.5 billion over the course of 8 years to encourage development of high milage gas fueled vehicles. Honda sells a hybrid vehicle that gets 50+ miles per gallon, but the thing is tiny. Americans don't like to drive tiny cars. I sure as hell don't, and won't. Why would I drive one of those little shit-boxes when there are all of those idiots out there driving around in Expeditions and F-250s? I could get killed!

The Bush administration has dropped the Clinton plan for gas mileage, and has instead decided that hydrogen fuel cells are the way to go, and I agree. Then we SUV drivers can still have our cake and eat it too. Bush hasn't revealed yet how much he is going to spend on this program, but the spending that was to have taken place on Clinton's plan for the current year was a paultry $127 million dollars. Paultry in this case is relative, a hundred million in relation to tens and tens (hundreds?) of billions fighting over oil. Frankly I think we are pussy-footing around when bold action is called for. So here is what I propose...

A reward of $15 billion dollars to the first car company that sells 20% of it's cars powered with fuel cells. A reward also of $15 billion dollars to the first oil company that installs fuel cell refueling systems in at least 75% of it's stations. Yeah, that's a lot of money. A LOT of money. But, in the words of a once little known Congressman from Philly, "Money talks and bullshit walks". A reward of that magnitude would spur real action toward fuel self sufficiency once and for all, and we could finally tell the mideast oil barrons to ESAD.

Flame away.

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 14, 2002


"how do you like your war?"

Over-EASY, just like my eggs. ; )

You're right, that's the attitude of most Americans. They want an easy fix for everything. Personally, I don't see a quick recovery for the economy. Better trade that F-250 in for a Volkswagen. ; )

-- Pammy (, January 14, 2002.

Two comments:

(1). Yes, absolutely we should get to work as fast as possible to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

(2). WTC was attacked for many more reasons than our being in Saudi Arabia. For example, an Al Q plot has been uncovered to destroy great cathedrals in Europe.

-- Peter Errington (, January 14, 2002.

Unk, we can always rig your SUV to run on methane. Then you'd be self-sustaining. >;)

-- helen (toot@toot.toot), January 14, 2002.

Why did AlQaeda attack the world trade center? I'm sure there IS more than one answer. Why do they treat their women so badly, why are those counries never at peace, etc etc etc. I don't think you can blame the US for all of the woes of the middle east, NO WAY.

As far as how the war is you think that you know all the details? Is is conceivable to you that the defense dept. might know some things about what is really going on, that us laypersons don't? That's why we have such things as "confidential" and "top secret", and "security clearance". I seriously doubt the public knows half of what's going on when it comes to these things. It's called strategy. All we know is from press conferences and what the media reports. I've come to know that the media isn't always very accurate.

Hey I hate war and killing probably more than you do, but this is just how I see it. And since you asked....=P

-- (cin@cin.cin), January 14, 2002.

I disagree that the current conflict is a "terrible waste." Terrorism is a clear and present danger to our nation. Afghanistan is not only the dismantling of a terrorist-supporting regime, but a lesson for other nations. If you harbor terrorists, we will hurt you. This will not deter fanatical suicide bombers, but it will give pause to the tin pot dictators or theocracies dabbling in terrorism.

As for oil, the answer is in the marketplace, not in the government. America subsidizes the price of oil. This encourages consumption of oil and discourages exploration of alternative fuels. America also subsidizes suburban sprawl, one of the causes of high oil consumption. The easiest solution is for consumers to pay the "true" cost of petroleum. If we had to pay the actual cost of driving at the pump, people would respond. The higher "real" cost of petroleum would make alternative fuels far more attractive.

A "reward" is a terrible idea. The reward does not address the underlying supply and demand equation. The $15 billion has no relationship with the real world costs of implementing a hydrogen vehicle nor does it influence consumer behavior. Imagine a $15 billion reward for the first company to get American children to eat three helping of brussel sprouts per week.

Oil is "king" because it is inexpensive and widely available. Oil also has loads of external costs (like pollution) that the consumer avoids. Oil also enjoys political advantages. What we really need is to ensure the market cost of petroleum includes the external costs. Then, we simply need to let the marketplace work without any more good ideas.

-- Ken Decker (, January 14, 2002.

Politician A... "I promise to raise the price of oil and gas if I'm elected. Yes, I understand that I may ruin the economy in the process, but it must be done for your own long term good."

Politician B... "I promise to try a plan that will free us from the stranglehold that our overseas oil dependence has put us in. If the plan fails it will cost you zero and you will be no worse off than you are now. If the plan succeeds it will set us firmly on the path of freeing ourselves from depending on foreign oil, and the new technology will create jobs and also relieve air pollution from cars."

Hmmm, I wonder which guy gets elected?

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 14, 2002.

PS, the world will have invested hundreds of trillions of dollars in oil infrastructure which will be worth nothing when the oil runs out. Somehow the offer of a reward (paid only for success)to companies willing to kick-start future technologies seems tiny in comparison, hardly a "bad" idea to me.

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 14, 2002.

Unk, how many times has a politician promised a plan that will cost "zero" and near unlimited benefits? The simple truth is that every potential plan has costs, even if you plan to donate the $15 billion out of your pocket money. Furthermore, the American people prefer candidates with smooth lies rather than the hard truths. The table has been rigged in favor of fossil fuels, and this benefits the vast majority of citizens. Politically, people will fight to protect this subsidy until the oil wells run dry... then they will act surprised and blame politicians for not warning them.

PS, the world has invested trillions of dollars in oil infrastructure because the extraction and sale of fossil fuels is profitable. The world has not invested trillions of dollars in alternative energy sources because they are NOT profitable. Government need not "kick start" the private sector. The "kick start" is nothing more than corporate welfare with better marketing. If the vast intelligence of the business community detects a potential profit in hydrogen fuel cells, the investment will follow. With all due respect, Unk, I trust the free market more than I trust you or any other single individual with what seems like a nifty $15 billion idea.

The best way to ensure the free market works is to keep government from creating market distortions. The best case scenario is for government to create a level playing field by ensuring the external costs of fossil fuels are incorporated into the market price. Right now, transportation infrastructure is funded by general revenues. This means if I walk to work, my taxes help build the road you use with your SUV. Your pollution is a cost to me without a benefit. Your trip to traffic court is a general revenue cost as is the cost of uninsured motorists. "Pay at the pump" is a simple tax strategy to ensure motorists pay the real cost of driving. Once a level playing field is established, we simply need to let the free market work.

-- Ken Decker (, January 15, 2002.

On the one hand you say we need to level the playing field, but on the other you insist that folks won't do what it takes to level it.

We import half of our oil. The simple truth is that this situation leaves our country terribly vulnerable to the whims of foreign nations. It also costs us billions of dollars and the deaths of American soldiers in order to protect our oil interests overseas. America spends billions on defense, working toward energy self suficiency is merely another form of self protection, and thus worth government involvement.

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 15, 2002.

BTW, cin, I don't mean to suggest that America is responsible for the troubles in the mid-east. And I agree that we don't know the whole story. I just think that maybe it's time for a real push towards future energy independence. Plan ahead for a rainy day and all that.

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 15, 2002.

I say we just shoot them all and take over the oil fields. Ok so that won't happen.

The gov spends money on defense because of certain threats. What's the threat of oil? They'll charge us more money per barrel. OK now work out the cost benefit analysis for all the alternatives. Spend the $ on Saudi oil or on American car manufacturers and entrepreneurs with the hope that Americans will go for it. I think when it comes down to it, you'll find that it's just not worth it. Right now oil is cheap.

On the war front, I don't think we've wasted our dollars to find and kill Osama. More lives were lost with Clinton's 'peace' missions.

-- Maria (, January 15, 2002.

Oil's cheap now Maria but I think we will take over those fields. Kind of a marauding democracy sort of invasion with human rights as the excuse but actually no better reason than that there's noone to stop us. A manifest destiny deal revisited with pax democratica as the flag. Shit! I'm starting to sound like Doc!

-- Carlos (, January 16, 2002.

Cool idea, then the 'land of freedom' can behave just like imperial Japan. Can the Rape of Nanking, death marches, and Korean sexual servitude be far behind?

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 16, 2002.

Good job of always finding the silver lining in every cloud, Unk.

-- Jack Booted Thug (, January 16, 2002.

I'd be interested in comments on this article in the framework of economics and oil pandering.

-- Anita (, January 16, 2002.

Excellent article, Anita. I commend it to one and all.

-- Peter Errington (, January 16, 2002.

Unk's basic question was, "Happy with the results so far?"

My expectations were fairly limited. I'd have to say that the Afghan war has achieved some very modest objectives at a fairly modest cost in lives.

On the positive side, the Taliban no longer makes or enforces the rules for 90% of the country. That is very good all the way around. But the new government has yet to prove itself as an ally. I don't doubt that it contains leaders who are ruthless, rapacious and insatiable. We will feed them billions of dollars. They will grow. It remains to be seen what kind of misshapen monster we have on our leash.

We have provided other rulers in Central Asia and the Middle East with an object lesson in what might happen if they openly harbor a group like al-Qaeda. If nothing else, it will slow down their operations as the bad guys reassess their position and their strategy.

Unlike the expectations Bush set up at the start (and then knocked down as things went on), we didn't capture Osama bin Laden or destroy al-Qaeda. But we damaged them. We picked up valuable intelligence, deprived them of a safe base, destroyed some of their assets, killed some of their trainees and generally handed them a setback. They must have expected that, but it still hurts. For the first time in years, they shrank.

I remain very leery about the amount of power the administration was handed by the so-called PATRIOT Act. There is no prospect that I will settle my stomach over this any time soon. Power gets abused. It is inevitable. Because 98% of what the administration is doing is secret, all I can do is imagine what those abuses might be. Ignorance is NOT bliss in this instance.

The same goes for the future conduct of the "war". This is a "war" we are told will never end. If we gave up some of our rights on the pretext that we must do so for the "war effort" and the war has no end, then we have given up those rights more or less permanantly. Thanks, Congress! Thanks, Mr. Bush! You've got us over a barrel - for now. Lucky for us, we can get rid of you, if we feel so inclined.

-- Little Nipper (, January 16, 2002.

"Because 98% of what the administration is doing is secret"

Care to back that up with facts, LN?

-- Maria (, January 17, 2002.

Maria, you know that the point of what I said is that the facts are secret. There is no basis for me to "know" 98% is correct, any more than you "know" it is incorrect. This was rhetoric. If it occludes the point for you, ignore it. Substitute "most" for "98%". My point remains the same.

Of course, you can get a feel for how much is secret by asking a few simple questions and noticing that you don't know the answers to almost any of the fundamental facts, let alone the details. For example:

What arrangements or understandings have we made with Pakistan in return for their cooperation? What about the Phillipines, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Russia, or Isreal?

What is our best guess about the number of al-Quaeda members and where they are located? What do we think are their eventual goals?

Who has been detained in the USA? Where? Why?

How much of the FBI's resources are now assigned to terrorist tracking? What was it before 9/11? Where are they looking? How many wiretaps have been ordered on foreign nationals in this country? How many on US citizens?

What is the Office of Homeland Defense telling other agencies?

How many hours a day is Bush devoting to briefings and strategy sessions on the war? What is he deciding?

How many troops are in Afghanistan?

...Of course, I could ask another dozen similar questions or two or three dozen, without running out. Is any of this information public, Maria? Mind you, I am not asking if it should be public, only if it is public or secret. As far as I know, all this information (or almost all) is a closely held secret.

You can easily dispute my "98%" figure, but it's not central to my point. You're just quibbling.

-- Little Nipper (, January 17, 2002.

LN, those questions could be asked anytime during crisis or peacetime and during any presidency. Was Clinton forthcoming about the reasons in Kosovo? What about Somolia? Do we ever really know what's discussed with the leaders of Isreal and Palestine during the 'peacetalks'? Do we ever really know about FBI investigations? No, of course not. This "98%" (or whatever number you choose) secrecy is true all the time not just now during this war on terror.

I'm not quibling with you; I expected you to not like what's going on. You can support your opinion anyway you choose. I just wanted you to explain that number. Don't beat me up because of a simple question and don't read into my simple question that I'm picking a fight with you. I have no ulterior motives, just a simple question.

My opinion is that we finally have someone (Rumsfeld as well as others) who won't play with reporters on these 'secret' (which *have always been* secret) events.

-- Maria (, January 17, 2002.

Maria: "This "98%" (or whatever number you choose) secrecy is true all the time not just now during this war on terror."

Care to back that up with facts, Maria?

-- Little Nipper (, January 17, 2002.

Good questions, LN. I'll add another few that are really bugging me: Who was responsible for contaminating the US Mail with anthrax? What is being done to find them, apprehend them, and bring them to justice? What happened to the estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan in early October? Did we kill them? Did they escape?

-- (just, January 17, 2002.

LN, Did you read my questions? :)

-- Maria (, January 18, 2002.

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