Wonder if this has anything to do with Big Time's recent visit to KSA, the scale of which was said to be largely unprecedented. Naturally, nobody's sayin' nothin'.
But consider. Perhaps you recall those controversial commercials from a few years ago, spoofing the lurid anti-drug campaign, showing quite clearly how our need to fill our bottomless fuck-you-mobiles was only enabling the terrorists. It was a reasonable proposition then, and makes only more sense now.
Of course, it was shouted down at the time, as an unpatriotic campaign designed to make Americans feel bad about their god-given right to flagrantly waste a scarce, volatile resource, instead of simply rethinking their priorities and using it more sensibly.
It was never an all-or-nothing equation; I don't think that even the most hectoring of anti-gas-guzzler Cassandras were saying that we all had to live in hemp communes and ride our bicycles everywhere, man. It was simply modest, sensible goals -- re-establish and improve CAFE standards; utilize "smart growth" techniques to counter suburban/exurban sprawl and waste; rethink the hub-and-spoke distribution network that practically guarantees that the average American's food travels almost 1500 miles before it is consumed.
But now those dirty fucking hippies in the Iraq Study Group, James "Abbie Hoffman" Baker and Lee "Jerry Rubin" Hamilton, are trying to shove their yippie Trotskyite revolution down your throat, man, and fill you in on the consequences of your penis compensation on wheels. It's pretty simple math -- Saudi Arabia produces nothing but oil. Period. That's their entire source of income, disposable and otherwise. And how -- put on your Econ 101 thinkin' caps here, Hummeristas -- can we help take at least some of that disposable zaqat away? By consuming less, maybe?
Of course they have production stop-flow mechanisms to counter that, but eventually the market re-stabilizes at a lower price point equilibrium, even taking into account the current risk premium that keeps the price of oil six times what it was six years ago. At the very least, it could not hurt to conserve. I do not see how that argument can be seriously countered. We all have to get to work; we all have to live our lives; we all should enjoy our lives and recreate and travel. But we don't have to do all those things in 7 mpg monstrosities which leave outsized footprints and have a host of needless externalities.
And as the Sunni/Wahhabi/Salafi drumbeat increases for Saudi intervention, in the name of sectarian protection, we need to consider those consequences as well, in light of our personal and aggregate consumption choices.
It's simple -- it's a drug, we're the junkies, and they're the pushers. This problem will not be alleviated solely by blast-excavating and slant-drilling every national park and beach. There has to be a sea change in thought, in how we approach our lives and our consumption patterns. This is a problem that is actually at least somewhat within our power to control; the question is whether enough of us are willing to do just one or two little things that will add up in the aggregate, or if we continue to scoff and sneer, while we waste a quarter-billion dollars per day in an increasingly futile effort to power our toys.
It's only going to get worse; the problem is not going to magically disappear just because we ignore it. As John Robb has been astutely pointing out, while we dicker and speculate as to the mental capacity of our elected "leader" to face reality and adapt to it, reality keeps evolving, or in some cases devolving. We are still figuring out the nomenclature and response mechanisms to fourth-generation warfare, while the hot spots are transitioning into the systempunkt and enforced primary loyalties of fifth-generation. It's outpacing our ability to even outline it, much less assess it comprehensively. That's not even on Junior's table; he's just trying to find some straw to clutch at this point.
Infrastructural capacity and institutional loyalty will continue to devolve in these countries, as gangs who profit from smuggling drugs, people -- and yes, oil -- decentralize their tactical patterns to achieve unthinkable ROI ratios, causing millions or even billions of dollars in physical, financial, and economic damage for maybe tens of thousands of dollars invested in weapons acquired through black-market methods in the first place.
The Saudis, in the end, are just looking after their own interests. We may want to begin understanding that there's more than one way that we can set about doing the same. The application of blunt force is no longer a primary or even a tertiary option; the democratized, decentralized level of accessibility to powerful weapons and technology has re-aligned that scenario, as we have seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Really, the lesson of the Soviet Union's demise should have served as a warning in that regard. The Cold War was indeed won without firing a direct shot between us and them, but it was accomplished by an endless series of proxy wars and strategic feints, and ultimately by forcing the Soviets to ramp up their weapons program to a financially unsustainable level. They dropped the accelerator until the engine simply blew up.
Or ran out of gas. Neither one really qualifies as much of a strategy, does it?