The Most Dangerous Time

libya attacksIt feels like the most dangerous crisis of my lifetime.

We are fighting a trillion-dollar Long War in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and a dozen other secret battlegrounds, including Saudi Arabia. Our government claims we are fighting terrorism, but the wars are breeding more terrorists. Our most questionable allies in the war on terrorism – Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, etc – are going down or faltering fast. Now we lurch into intervention in Libya, and we back the theocratic Saudi dictators as they invade Bahrain with our Apache helicopters.

The underlying deal is that we buy their oil, they spend the petrodollars on our weapons, we look the other way, and the lobbyists get rich. All that real-politick is as solid as the sand.

Our smart young president formulates platforms to please us all: withdraw from Iraq [still in question], double-down in Afghanistan, keep the killing there and in Pakistan secret, promise the peace voters a four-year withdrawal instead of permanent war. Pass on the cost to future taxpayers. The madness concealed beneath the surface was made obvious this week as outgoing Defense Secretary Gates told West Point cadets that anyone advising the American president to invade countries like Iraq and Afghanistan had to “have his head examined”, but then lectured NATO on heading to the exits without a military victory.

On energy, the please-us-all platform has been: offshore oil drilling, mountaintop coal mining, billions for new and improved nuclear power plants, and some green jobs thrown in.  The national groups have gone along with the deal, and some have become ardent nuke advocates. But, like the Long War promises, Obama’s energy promises have all evaporated this year, in a mining disaster in West Virginia, a deepwater disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and now the worst nuclear meltdown our world has ever known.

Isn’t it time to rebel? Rebel against the thinking that got us here, rebel against the institutions that take us faster on the treadmill to hell.

Our clear message should be to end these infernal wars and to reinvest in energy conservation and renewable resources—now, not later—and not as a gesture to placate environmentalists, but as the cornerstone of economic recovery, a cleaner planet and global security.

Published by the LA Progressive on March 21, 2011
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About Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden is a former state senator and leader of Sixties peace, justice and environmental movements. He currently teaches at Pitzer College in Los Angeles. His books include The Port Huron Statement [new edition], Street Wars and The Zapatista Reader.