We live in an age that defies logic and disturbs our moral sensibilities. There is a growing number of nations that are busily building up their supply of nuclear weapons — any one of which is six times more powerful than the bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in the mid-1940s. And there are other bellicose nations that want desperately to join the fray. During the Iraq war President Bush actually contemplated using “limited yield” nuclear weapons but settled in the end for 500 pound “bunker-buster bombs” that burrow deep into the ground and destroy everything above and below ground for miles around.
The latest episode in this absurd nightmare is Israel’s request for a few bunker bombs from the United States — along with some planes that can carry the bombs closer to Iran without refueling. At this writing it is not clear whether this request will be met by the Obama administration, but a paragraph in a recent news story is worth a moment’s pause:
A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.
Again, this may or may not be true. But one bizarre feature of the story is that Obama’s hesitation (if there is any) is apparently due to his concern with his own reelection — since a war between Israel and Iran would raise oil prices precipitously thereby damaging his chances for reelection. We apparently don’t care if Israel attacks Iran as long as it occurs after the election: it’s OK if you attack, but just not yet! The fact that a President’s main concern seems to be with his own reelection rather than the carnage that would result from the sale of the planes and bombs — not to mention the possibility that the United States might well be drawn into the war as an ally of Israel — beggars belief.
As I write this the Sierra Club is desperately trying to get people to write their Congressmen to help save jobs in the clean energy industry. There is an immanent threat of lay-offs which has dampened investor’s enthusiasm for alternative energy. In their plea, Sierra Club says, “By failing to act, Congress is holding the fate of more than 40,000 jobs in the clean energy industry in its hands. Already, their lack of commitment has caused orders for new wind turbines to dry up and has created a crisis where layoffs are imminent.” Do you see the connection here? Our President worries that gas prices will go up if Israel goes to war with Iran, but he and the Congress are reluctant to support a movement that could help us break away from our dependence on foreign oil! I sometimes think I have passed through the looking glass.
What this government needs to do is get squarely behind the clean energy movement and make a serious attempt to get adequate funding for research and meaningful tax breaks for industries that will in the end make alternative energy a viable alternative and affordable by all. Imagine the benefits that would accrue if we simply took a fraction of the money we spend on “defense” and put it into clean energy research. With sufficient funding it is possible that nuclear fusion could replace nuclear fission. As things now stand, we stumble about on the issue of alternative energy and focus our attention on factors that might raise oil prices — as though the latter are what really matter. They don’t. What matters is taking a long view and committing to a path that will deliver us from a world that seriously contemplates destruction on a mass scale and worries only about the cost of gas at the pump.