Summary: America has the greatest military force on Earth, a terrible swift sword. We face hard times, perhaps for a few years. Perhaps for longer. Will we yield to the temptation to use our power to steal from other nations? What would our forefathers think of such a decision?
How will America react to hard times? The Great Depression is long ago, and we have changed since then. The 1970’s were not so bad as the 1930’s, and are much closer to us. What solutions ran through our minds back then?
(1) “Britain Says U.S. Planned To Seize Oil In ’73 Crisis“, New York Times, 2 January 2004 — Excerpt:
“The United States government seriously contemplated using military force to seize oil fields in the Middle East during the Arab oil embargo 30 years ago, according to a declassified British government document made public on Thursday.
” The top-secret document says that President Richard M. Nixon was prepared to act more aggressively than previously thought to secure America’s oil supply if the embargo, imposed by Arab nations in retaliation for America’s support for Israel in the 1973 Middle East war, did not end.”
(2) “Oil: The Issue of American Intervention”, Robert C. Tucker, Commentary, January 1975 — He was a prominent Sovietologist at Princeton (Wikpedia). Excerpt:
“Without intervention there is a distinct possibility of an economic and political disaster bearing … resemblance to the disaster of 1930s. … The Arab shoreline of the Gulf is a new El Dorado waiting for its conquistadors.”
(3) Many American’s were thinking about stealing the Saudi’s oil during the tumult of the 1970’s:
- “Kissinger on Oil, Food, and Trade”, Business Week, 13 January 1975 — Kissinger said “I am not saying that there’s no circumstances where we would not use force.”
- “How US troops would seize Saudi Wells”, Sunday Times (UK), 9 February 1975 — Leaked details about a US DoD plan code-named “Dhahran Option Four” to seize the Saudi oil fields. See this photo of the page.
- “Seizing Arab oil“, Miles Ignotus (pseudonym of a professor and defense consultant), Harper’s, March 1975 — “How the US can break the oil cartel’s stranglehold on the world.”
- “Oil Fields as Military Objectives – A Feasibility Study“, Congressional Research Service, 21 August 1975
(4) And not just back then:
- “Taking Saudi Out of Arabia“, Laurent Murawiec, RAND, presented to the Defense Policy Board on 10 July 2002
The temptation of power
We spend almost as much on national security (broadly defined) as the rest of the world combined, and many times that of any conceivable combination of enemies. While that suggests considerable paranoia in the American character, it also creates the temptation to use that power. We have lived beyond our means for many years now, borrowing from other nations. Now the bills comes due.
Power shifts to the new Asian manufacturing nations and the oil-rich nations of the Middle East. We can compete — trim down and work harder. Buckle our belts tighter and pay our debts.
Or we can use our guns to steal. To make it easier for our conscience, we could demonize “those dirty uncivilized terrorist-loving Arab Islamic people with their evil God.” Its has been done before. Sometimes successfully.
Also — Middle Eastern oil is not the only potential target. Force can gain wealth in many ways, some overt — some subtle.
What would our forefathers think?
Many were in favor of manifest destiny, grabbing as much as we could take and hold. But not all. Grant believed that the greed and hubris of our western expansion had a cost, which we paid in the Civil War. See this excerpt from the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, (1885), pages 22-24, about the Causes of the Mexican War (red emphasis added):
Generally the officers of the army were indifferent whether the annexation [of Texas] was consummated or not; but not so all of them. For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the war [with Mexico] that resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
Texas was originally a state belonging to the republic of Mexico. … it had but a very sparse population, until settled by Americans who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. These colonists paid very little attention to the supreme government, and introduced slavery into the state almost from the start, though the constitution of Mexico did not, nor does it now, sanction that institution. Soon they set up an independent government of their own … [and] offered themselves and the State to the United States, and in 1845 their offer was accepted. The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.
Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon Mexico cannot … the Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
Let’s turn for perspective to westerns, the heart of American myth
Excerpt from Last Stand at Papago Wells by Louis L’Amour (1957), chapter 15:
There comes a time in the life of each man when he must make a decision. Grant Kimbrough had one to make now: behind him on the sand was a fortune. Behind him was a girl he wanted, but whether he got her or not, the gold was there. And all that stood in his way was the load carried by his six-shooter.
It was murder, but he had killed before this. What of the men who died during the war, and those Indians who died here? Suppose, just suppose nobody was left alive but himself? It could easily happen. And if only one was left, well, who was to say how the others died?
He stared bleakly at the sand. He had come a long way since the old days. He shied away form the memory of his father. He could see the old man now. If his father had ever believed his son capable of what he now considered, his father would have killed him himself. Yet his father had never been in such a position: all that lay between himself and a bleak future was a few pistol bullets.
The Saudi’s are prepared (it might not be easy)
From Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Secret Saudi-U.S. Connection, Gerald Posner, on the Huffington Post — Excerpt:
“… based on National Security Agency electronic intercepts, the Saudi Arabian government has in place a nationwide, self-destruction explosive system composed of conventional explosives and dirty bombs strategically placed at the Kingdom’s key oil ports, pipelines, pumping stations, storage tanks, offshore platforms, and backup facilities. If activated, the bombs would destroy the infrastructure of the world’s largest oil supplier, and leave the country a contaminated nuclear wasteland ensuring that the Kingdom’s oil would be unusable to anyone. The NSA file is dubbed internally Petro SE, for petroleum scorched earth.”
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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
- About the Financial crisis – what’s happening? how will this end?.
- About America – how can we reform it?
- Good news about America, a collection of articles!
Other posts about America’s future:
- Forecasts – Why wait? Read tomorrow’s news … today! (part I), 11 July 2006
- The Future of America – Why wait? Read tomorrow’s news … today! (part 2), 17 July 2008
- Forecasts – Why wait? Read tomorrow’s news … today! (part 3), 17 July 2006
- Forecasts – Why wait? Read tomorrow’s news … today! (part 4), 17 July 2006
- Our futures seen in snippets of the past, 16 June 2008
- A soft despotism for America?, 22 July 2008
- The transition between Imperial reigns: what will it mean for America?, 16 December 2008