Failed State of America

It is February 15th 2018 and the United States has had 30 mass shootings since January 1st. The usual battle lines are being drawn on why it happens despite ignoring data such as this in the New York Times last year. As an outsider it appears that the right to life and security of the person have been completely abandoned in the United States. Is gun violence a symptom of America’s failure?

The first set of factors to determine a failed state are:

  • loss of monopoly on the legitimate use of force
  • erosion of authority to make collective decesions
  • inability to provide reasonable public services
  • inability to interact internationally

The first of the above factors I’m taking as a given in the United States. The second is also evident in the hyper partisan, winner take all politics. Flint Michigan is a prime example of a nation not being able to provide basic public services. There are various reports a US diplomatic service in chaos and shortages of key diplomatic staff. Also, the contradictions coming from the current administration of foreign and trade policy make relations difficult.

More comprehensive checklists are available in the above article. The US hasn’t many of the social indicators until the economic inequality factors. The US has one of the highest infant mortality rates in advanced economies, poor education results, and certain groups suffer more deprivation than others based on ethnicity, orientation, or gender. The recent shutdowns of the US government is an example a state failure to fulfill obligations.

The first political indicator is criminalization and/or delegitimization of the state. This has been happening for decades in the US. Corruption disguised as campaign contributions, diversion of public resources to private companies, and defunding regulators all contribute to this. Much American media adds to the attack on government legitimacy with anti-government heroes promoted as pundits or in fiction. Holding government to account is difficult because of gerrymandering and the vast amounts of money required to run in politics.

The US public service is deteriorating, I mentioned Flint and the 30 mass shootings this year. There are many more examples where essential services for Americans are suffering a lack of services or terribly funded services. The wealthier an American is the more services are made available for them. When school teachers in poorer areas have to pay for supplies out of pocket it is a sign of failure.

Every country has a human rights problem at some level and the US is no exception. In my life we’ve gone from having to remind people Black is Beautiful back to Black Lives Matter. The militarisation of US law enforcement, the under siege mentality of US law enforcement, and the prison industrial complex are other factors pointing to America’s failure. Political violence against the state isn’t as common but does take place such as the Oklahoma City bombing.

The state within a state indicator is also met by the United States. Private security and intelligence services have been given access to state resources without the same stringent oversight. The weaponization of US politics hasn’t begun quite yet but threats of violence and radicalization of violent people has. There are plenty of armed groups eager for the next civil war to break out.

The American Revolution replaced a distant aristocracy with one down the dirt road. American bipolar, partisan politics still has elites and aristocrats controlling politics. Democrats fund one institution and Republicans are obligated to destroy that institution once back in power and vice versa. Both populi and optimi hide behind national symbols and patriotic rhetoric. Such extremism denies debate, progress, compromise and America’s existence.

There is currently an investigation into Russian involvement in the last presidential election. Any foreign government to pay for access to US policy makers. There alleged Russian connections to the National Rifle Association, which controls much of Congress. The above article mentions military/paramilitary not mere financial influence peddling but the money is destabilizing Americans ability to control their representatives.

Both KGB by Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, and The Mitrokhin Archive by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin mentions KGB plots to destabilize the United States from within. Conspiracy theories, false information, financing armed groups, and feuling paranoia were tactics to weaken the Western Democracies. America may wish to look deeper into ties of extreme right wing groups and their Russian counterparts, it may lead to Russian security services involvement.

The United States is not a failed state, but it is not a stable and functional state either. Maybe fragile state is the best description right now. Blaming Russia, Mexico, the other faction, or whatever for America’s situation as every American is to blame and responsible for reversing these trends. Maybe Americans are happy living in a state that fails so many and are comfortable watching neighbours die for lack of care or security. Maybe Americans are waiting for United Nations intervention.


Boeing’s Hypocrisy #Cdnpoli

Boeing has succeeded in adding another 79.82% duties on C-Series aircraft from Bombardier claiming they’re being dumped into the United States and subsidised by Canada and Quebec. Boeing does not have a product that competes with the Bombardier C-Series, but has convinced US regulators that a much smaller Canadian company is going to destroy the US giant.

Boeing has claimed they’re preventing another Airbus rising up to destroy what was once a monopoly, and is now a duopoly. Maybe it was wrong for Canada to help Bombardier, maybe it was wrong for countless Canadian governments to allow our other aerospace companies to be destroyed. This is the Avro Arrow situation all over again, we cave in to Boeing’s pressure we become little more than a colony. We become the lesser partner in the Mercantile system, giving away resources and a nice captive market for inefficient industry.

Canada should cancel all contracts currently held by Boeing, ban all US manufacturers from bidding on the CF-188 Hornet replacement, and make the US put all its subsidies on the table in NAFTA talks. Boeing should be afraid of Bombardier, the Chinese, and the others coming for market share. Because Boeing is likely uncompetitive without the direct and indirect subsidies it receives in the United States. Add to the subsidies that Boeing is the second largest contractor to the US government, mainly because they’ve destroyed the competition.

Many of Boeing’s contracts don’t pass the smell test, as a search at the Project on Government Oversight finds. One example is in 2016 Boeing paid $18 million to settle claims it overcharged the US government. My search found ten pages of Boeing overcharging, receiving questionable contracts, and being paid for research the US government conducted. Boeing isn’t upset about subsidies to Bombardier, its upset they didn’t get any too.

The World Trade Organisation has ruled that some of Boeing’s subsidies are illegal. Maybe Canada should join those challenging America to play by the rules it helped create. There another ten pages of search results on the WTO site mentioning the Boeing Airbus dispute, both companies receive tax dollars so why shouldn’t Bombardier? The European Union arguments make Canadians look like amateurs when it comes to corporate welfare.

Boeing has a history of consuming competitors, the tariffs could be part of a strategy to buy Bombardier cheap. Boeing doesn’t have any products in that market, buy Bombardier and all that Canadian subsidised research is Boeings to exploit. Maybe if we provide tax rebates, grants, guaranteed purchases, interest free loans, and government employees to help with sales, Canada could keep one of the parts plants.

Targeted Sanctions #Cdnpoli #sanctiontrump

With the announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to receive security clearance, office space, and unprecedented access in the White House I feel it is time to revisit my idea on Twitter that the Trump administration warrants Canadian sanctions. Not being a lawyer I might be wrong but my understanding is international law gives Donald J Trump himself immunity. That immunity does not extend to his family nor any of his business interests, nor to his cabinet and their business interests. Canada already has the Special Economic Measures Act to lay sanctions.

Broad sanctions will hurt Canada and vulnerable Americans and not really be noticed by the Trump administration. Targeting the Trump family, Trump business empire, and those of the Trump administration who are poised to use their position for personal gain would be far more effective. Current Sanctions by Canada are for questionable election results, oligarchical seizure of public assets, denial of Human Rights, and destruction of essential services.

Donald Trump’s recent actions against democratic governance, Human Rights, public assets, denial of service, and fostering fear in minority groups should worry us. If they were committed by a leader in the developing world we would not hesitate to call on international sanctions. When African leaders are elected under suspicion or blatant fraud we slap sanctions on within days or weeks. With the suspicion of Russian involvement of in November’s results it would be hypocrisy of Canada not to sanction the United States regime as we would any African, South American, or Asian regime.

When North Korea or Iran sabre rattles and threatens to use weapons of mass destruction we don’t try to foster friendship and engagement we tighten the sanctions. When Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe pitted “veterans” against farmers and farm labourers to steal land we didn’t open trade negotiations to secure our market we sanctioned. How is Trump’s forcing through pipelines on Native lands, targeting of minorities, and threats of war with North Korea any different?

With the disturbing ties between the Trump administration and the Russian Federation’s government and ruling oligarchy we could call targeted sanctions as an extension of our current Russian sanctions. Those sanctions are in part due to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the proxy war in Ukraine. The call for NATO nations to spend more money while stating that the alliance is no longer relevant and that the United States wouldn’t come to members’ aid threatens security and may foster an international crises. The calls to end sanctions on Russia without Russia changing its support for its proxy wars or returning Crimea will embolden the expansion of Vladimir Putin’s empire.

It is Canada’s interests to sanction the Trump administration, as it will embolden resistance to Trump and roll back of some terrible policies. Millions of Americans have lost healthcare access and we Canadians can expect greater fraud in our systems as a result. Refugee bans have a greater number of people risking their lives to come to Canada and American minority groups might end up joining them. The removal of restrictions on small arms may foster more violence on American streets that spills into Canada. Already the unchecked hate and threats against minorities has spread north and cost Canadian lives. Tariffs on Mexico will hurt Canadian jobs dependant on supplying or being supplied by Mexican industry.

It is ultimately up to Americans to decide Trump’s fate, and by extension their own. Do they wait until America is a battleground or do they move quickly for a peaceful transition? Sanctions on the Trump regime can starve that regime of resources and distance support from people and organizations that are vulnerable to sanctions being imposed. Targeted sanctions may cost a few Canadian jobs, but doing nothing may cost many Canadian lives. Which is easier to replace, a lost job or a lost life?

The announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to be her father’s chief and most trusted advisor reminds me of Stalin and his daughter. By the end even Stalin’s favourite daughter wasn’t trusted by a paranoid dictator that had seized unchecked power. The Trump administration is working to removes checks on executive power and turn the United States into the Trump family’s personal property. Maybe sanctions on Ms Trump will convince her to reign her father in before she to is cut out of the decisions.

Canada and NATO #Cdnpoli #NATO

I know I shouldn’t have read the comments on an article about Canada’s Arctic being vulnerable to Putin’s expansion schemes. It annoys me when people say NATO’s expansion caused the current tensions with Putin’s Empire, saying it is American imperialism that is the driving force behind NATO’s recent moves. I get the sense people believe the USA are the ones making the decisions, that the eastern NATO nations are just doing as they’re told, and they are obeying to the wrong power. Even my limited historic knowledge of eastern Europe says this is wrong.

Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have all suffered from Russian occupation, as has Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Ukraine. These nations have suffered under Russian, Austrian, Prussian, Nazi, and most recently Soviet occupations. These peoples have been play things for regional powers, “great” powers, and distant ignorant leaders drawing lines on maps for centuries. Are those opposed to NATO asking these peoples to become pawns again?

The comment that sparked this post was about having Canadian troops in Eastern Europe coming home. As if our small forces, mostly company sized groups (+/-60), are the tipping point to spark armageddon. Canadian Forces need to be able to operate with Allies, for their security as well as ours. This is what NATO was set up for, to cooperate on security and to keep the Soviets from using Salami tactics to move across Europe. Divide your enemies is a classic strategy straight from Sun Tzu and is even older.

We see throughout the world a rise in anti liberal-democracy movements, how are any liberal democracies to survive if they don’t work together? Canada can not expect NATO allies to defend us if we dismiss other nations concerns re Russia. The economic centre of gravity is shifting back to the east and away from twentieth-century manufacturing and the Atlantic. The economic upheaval this will cause will make Canada, NATO, and NATO partners even more vulnerable. Throw in the costly effects of climate change on the security environment and we should soon see that Canada abandoning allies is Canada betraying itself.

NATO, like all institutions, is in need of reform, and so are the militaries that are NATO members. More needs to be done in readying NATO forces for any eventuality, every nation could be doing more. By more I don’t mean the arbitrary 2% of GDP spending target set by iron mongers, I mean seeing diplomacy as worth investing in for something other than trade deals. Diplomats and spies are the first and second line of defence, military personnel are the last line. It is time to take the domestic politics out of diplomacy and stop letting petty interests get in the way of global security.

Another comment on my FaceBook after sharing the article was about reducing Canada’s defence policy to petty partisan jabs. No political movement in Canada has a monopoly on wanting to secure Canada’s sovereignty, nor does any party have a glowing record when it comes to supporting the Forces or its membership. The Forces have been ground down over decades and lots of new toys or ‘lipstick on a pig’ policies such as going back to old uniforms and ranks are going to fix things.

If we are going to be an effective ally we need flexible, self contained, expeditionary forces that are capable of working in the air, sea, land, and cyberspace. I’ve written before on how I’d structure the Canadian Forces differently. Since I wrote that I would add greater assets for the electronic/cyber element to both defend and attack. It will take political courage to face the institutional push back, do we have politicians with that courage?

We need a government who stands up to iron mongers, and explore the possibility of nationalizing the defence industry, then placing the plants where it makes strategic sense and not political sense. At very least explore price and wage controls to keep costs manageable, along with higher taxes in the defence industry to get our money back from shareholders profiteering from security.

NATO isn’t perfect, no human institution can be, but it is the tool we have to protect from a world leader seemingly bent on having a greater empire than Stalin or Catherine the Great. It isn’t what some of western Europe’s or the USA’s leaders want, their views are irrelevant, it is about people living with the legacy of occupation by the Soviet Union not wanting to return to the status of mere satellite or a region ignored/belittled by Kremlin elites.

Canadian Forces are in Eastern Europe because democratically elected governments want them there. NATO’s move east has been through invitation, it has not gone as far east as some have invited, Ukraine and Georgia would have NATO extend further east. NATO has not accepted those invitations but citizens of NATO nations need to know why Ukraine and Georgia feel threatened. NATO’s strategy in the Cold War was to make the Soviet Union play Hnefatafl when it wanted to play chess, there is no reason to abandon this strategy but, as Sun Tzu recommends, leave them a way to escape.

Dropping bombs is the epitome of impotence #Cdnpoli #elxn42

Bombing is a tactic, not a strategy. In order for any tactic to work it must be part of a well thought out strategy, not merely a ever growing target list. Strategy, in a democracy, is not the job of general or admirals but of the democratically elected government of the day. Generals and admirals are there to implement one component of strategy, but any strategy that only focuses on the armed options is doomed to failure.

Despite what some borderline fascists wish us to believe, armed forces are not the first line of defence. The first line of defence for any nation is its diplomatic service. Extremists on either side of a conflict may not wish to negotiate, that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be held hostage to them. It wasn’t armed victory that lead to the Good Friday Agreement, or created the Palestinian Authority, or insert hundreds of other examples dating back to the Egypt Hittite Treaty from the Bronze Age.

Canada needs to redevelop its once elite diplomatic service and start engaging the world, even some of the most distasteful elements. This is not to generate more jobs in region x, y, or z but for greater global security. We can start climbing out of our diplomatic hole by signing/ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty, imperfect as this treaty is it will start slowing the flow of weapons to the groups causing the genocides, chaos, and refugee crises we are experiencing in the world. The next step would be to use Canada’s resources to hunt those profiteering from these conflicts. If all else fails, use a JTF2 sniper bullet to stop them.

Diplomacy isn’t all black tie/gown cocktail parties and conferences in exotic places, it is also the horrible conditions of refugee and displaced people camps. Canadians should stop leaving it to overworked and underfunded NGOs to solve the refugee crises and demand an increase in federal funds. We could scale back some of the concrete industry subsidies, sorry infrastructure budget, and use the money saved to bring 125,000 Syrian Refugees from Lebanon. I’d rather use the money to save lives than fill potholes, and helping Lebanon may keep the conflict from consuming Lebanon creating another wave of refugees.

The second line of defence, and of strategy, is intelligence. For decades Canada has made policy in a vacuum or trusted allies without looking too closely at their agendas. Canada needs to create, under Parliamentary supervision, an independent spy agency that reports to the Chief Clerk and the Prime Minister. The mandate of this agency should be based in ethics, flexible in response to a changing world, and free from partisan politics or skewed world views.

The third line of defence is the Canadian Forces, but in a diplomatic and intelligence role. The Hollywood soldiers who are blindly obedient, unthinking, human drones are not needed for what is happening in the Middle East, or anywhere else. What is needed is intelligent people with ‘Mark One Eye Balls’ on the ground providing information, giving out aid, bringing fighters over from the other side, and helping with development. Dropping bombs hasn’t built anything for those in the conflict zones yet, nor will it.

Canada’s Forces are ill equipped for intervention in Syria or Iraq, sure we’re flying high and dropping bombs but that isn’t going to work. What Canada needs to intervene, apart from political will, is a ground attack plane that can fly low and slow enough to see who’s who. Having a pilot with a brain on scene is better than having someone in a computer kiosk watching through cameras. Canadian Forces would also need a more fluid structure to respond quicker to threats and force the other side to react.

The biggest thing the Canadian Forces needs is a massive increase to the training budget, which should be second only to pay and benefits. What use is the latest hardware if our people are not trained to use it effectively. Technology is there to assist, not replace, hard training.

For those prospective Canadian Prime Ministers here is some homework:

Security and Defence should be primary election issues this year #Cdnpoli

This weeks events in France and Nigeria are reminders that the world has changed since the last Federal election in Canada. The loss of life in France was horrible, yet it pales in comparison to the loss in Nigeria and other parts of the world. All lives matter regardless of where they are. While small attacks in rich countries get massive coverage, the massive attacks in poorer countries gets very little coverage. Yet, many of those besieged, failing, exploited countries are providing the inspiration for attacks in the rich countries.

Our Prime Minister recently said the extremists have declared war on us. If that is his view why are we not on a war footing, why has Stephen Harper’s government not brought in any war measures? On the contrary, this government still continues to provide aid and comfort to the enemy. Legislation that violates basic human rights, using scarce security/defence resources for corporate profits or vote buying schemes, and failure to support the Arms Trade Treaty all benefit the terrorists. This current government has done little to prevent the terrorists’ tactics of seeding division or of thwarting extremists of all kinds, after all it is their prefered method of winning votes.

It would be nice in the next election to actually see candidates speak and debate intelligently about what threatens Canada from within or abroad. Of the domestic threats are the increasing levels of ignorance about our politics, world, and ability to see other points of view. Combine ignorance with the pandering to prejudices, the corruption, the ideological tribalism, the extremism, or the arrogant holier than thou attitudes and I wonder how much longer Canada can be considered a Democracy.

Politics is supposed to be about debating policy that is the best for everyone, so here are some suggested policies. If we are in a war situation, then let us introduce war measures to ensure victory that doesn’t leave us ruined in the process. Start by signing the Arms Trade Treaty and implementing it within thirty days of the election with a budget to enforce it. Nationalize the arms industry in Canada and put every sale before Parliament for scrutiny, combine this with wage controls and keeping manufacturing locations from becoming partisan. Give domestic security legislation that respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our most potent weapon, and give security resources to defeat extremists.

Security and policing can not win alone, they need education, job prospects, an end to institutionalized prejudices, and most importantly reliable information. The networks of extremists do not see national boundaries and that is why we need a foreign intelligence service to provide our domestic security information outside its jurisdiction.

Being Canadian let’s use a hockey analogy; if a team stays in their end and blocks shots for sixty minutes will they win? It is unCanadian to sit back and let the other side control the game. We need to get actively engaged in destroying the extremists outside of Canada and no, dropping bombs from 10,000 meters or training Kurds to fight for us isn’t getting engaged, it is impotence. Canada needs to use intelligence assets to infiltrate, divide, and disrupt extremist groups. Cutting off their supplies, their sources of new recruits and communications will save lives.

Another policy option is to return Canadian Forces personnel to Nigeria but in larger numbers. The base that hosted members of Canada’s Special Operations Regiment is now in the hands of Boko Haram. Canada should start bringing Nigerian military units here for retraining, and re equipping. Just giving money to Nigeria isn’t working as the sharp end soldiers see nothing of it. Along with training Nigerians, and others from that region of Africa, Canada should send a reinforced heavy brigade group to Nigeria with a ground support wing. Of course this will mean cancelling the F-35 in favour of aircraft that might actually worry Boko Haram militants.

Many Canadians want us to return to Peacekeeping missions, yet most of the current missions require heavy weaponry than our army currently lacks or lacks quantity. In order to be effective in peacekeeping missions our forces will need to expand and increase the training budget, have a clear idea of what kind of missions to expect and how long to plan deployments for. A force sent should strike fear in the opposing factions, not be a speed bump on the way to slaughter enemy civilians. Or as in some cases over the last decade peacekeepers that commit more atrocities than the warring sides.

Much will happen before the fixed election date, possibly an earlier election, it would be easy to get distracted by trivia such as personality, shiny election promises, partisanship, and so on. However, those wishing to be our government should not be allowed to avoid discussing their security policies, it is one of the Federal government’s primary responsibility. Far too often buying toys and rhetorical nonsense has been substituted for a defence strategy or security policy. This election let’s demand better.

You shouldn’t be surprised about gas prices

For those of us who watch global events, sometimes obsessively, it is no surprise gas prices are the highest they’ve ever been in some places. For those who are shocked that gas prices are so high and think this is temporary greed by your local gas station cartel, let me burst your bubble. Over the next days, months, years your gas prices could go up because supplies could be cut off from the markets. Greed is merely an opportunist exploiting these supply fluctuations.

Let’s start where the pop news outlets are actually covering events, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Today one of Iraq’s major oil refineries was attacked by a group called ISIS and the Iraqi government is now asking for U.S. airstrikes. There is worry of Iraq breaking up if Baghdad falls, which could happen soon if worst case predictions are correct. The situation is to a point the UK and US are asking Iran for diplomatic assistance in solving the growing crises.

Okay, it won’t be one event that pushes oil prices sky high and causes a recession that makes 2008’s look like a wonderful golden age. The death will be from a thousand cuts, Iraq just one potentially deep cut. Take Saudi Arabia, actually the Islamic Extremists would like too and that would mean Saudi oil supplies removed from the global market place. Syria’s civil war is becoming Iraq’s civil war and it could become a regional, sectarian conflict that stops the flow of oil from the Middle East. Hey, just get oil from somewhere else, right? Yes, but everyone is scrambling for that oil too pushing demand/prices up.

On the African Continent there is oil, but where there is oil there is also growing insurgency and civil war. Libya could be heading towards civil war which would cut supplies to Europe and the eastern part of Canada. Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Nigeria all have various levels of insurgencies that threaten regional stability and the flow of oil from Western and Northern Africa. The oil producing region of Central Africa is already suffering civil war in South Sudan, which might have extended into the Central African Republic and parts of Uganda.

Not just the oil producing areas of Africa are threatening you oil supply but also threatening the shipping routes. Somalia’s al Shabab has taken to attacking Kenya’s coastal region. The British have already ordered their citizens evacuated from Kenya while al Shabab is vowing to punish Kenya further for its role in Somalia huntin al Shabab’s leaders. If Kenya and Ethiopia withdraw forces from Somalia it could give al Shaba the means to strike shipping lanes again. On the opposite coast of Africa, around Nigeria piracy has exploded in recent years which threatens the flow of Nigeria oil. Also Nigeria’s oil doesn’t always reach the ports from theft and corruption. Egypt too isn’t exactly stable and that could jeopardize pipelines, oil loading facilities and the Suez Canal.

Asia’s oil producing regions extend beyond the Middle East and they to have growing tensions and potential for conflict. The incidents between China and Vietnam, Japan, or the Philippines over potential oil producing areas all have the potential to spark a global conflict if mismanaged by anyone involved. Hopefully diplomacy wins over the Nationalism, greed and histories of past offences against each other. Central Asia also has potential for oil conflict with disruption of supplies and the corresponding price hikes. The Caspian Sea has huge oil reserves but is bordered by dictatorships, the Afghan conflict and a little further away the Pakistani insurgency. Difficult to pump oil to ships in the Indian Ocean when the pipelines have to pass through these conflicts.

On the European side of the Caspian Sea the oil would flow through the Caucuses and the Black Sea. With Russia using salami tactics to snatch Black Sea ports and regions where oil flows from or through to the sea. This brings me to another point, expect higher natural gas prices too, Moscow has cut pipelines through Ukraine to Europe. If the pipelines stay closed until winter Europe will be scrambling for alternative sources, which will affect everyone’s costs. One of these alternate sources for Europe is the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, with growing tension with Israel and Greece on one side and Turkey and Egypt on the other and the Syrian civil war caught in the middle.

Norway recently announced it is nearing the end of its oil reserves and may need to make massive cuts in the generous social welfare programs government has been spending oil royalties on. Searching the Arctic for more sources of oil to keep the inevitable away a little longer would put Norway in a tense situation with Russia. Russia hasn’t started heavily militarizing its claimed Arctic territories to protect polar bears. All Arctic bordering nations that make a claim on Arctic resources are being looked upon as threats by Moscow’s elite these days.

Venezuela is another oil producing country that is seeing waves of protests, instability and a regime crackdown on opponents. The oil that has been propping up the current government is no longer enough to satisfy a people who are not seeing prosperity and democracy as promised. Whereas previous situations in Venezuela might have been a few right wing nutters, now former supporters of the current regime are realizing the mistakes made.

Even in North America growing tensions over oil production or shipping could get out of control. If local concerns are ignored or government and industry bully people to get projects through a volatile situation could result and even explode into violence. Everywhere in the world where fossil fuels are abundant there seems to be tensions, violence, human rights abuses, and some form of extremism to go with them. Add to these the disruptions nature can cause with hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, et cetera and we shouldn’t be surprised gas prices are so high. In fact we should be wondering why they’re so low.

Even in conflict zones or disaster zones not directly affecting the price of gas there is an indirect influence on price. Those NATO air patrols in Eastern Europe don’t fly on diplomatic communiques, the armies fighting throughout Africa don’t run on solar cells, and the Coast Guards watching each other in the West Pacific aren’t running on whale blubber. The entire global economy runs on fossil fuels, as does every military, and relief effort.

Humanity has two choices as I see it:

The first is to stop complaining about prices and accept the costs in blood and treasure for the decadent lifestyle we live. Accept ten cents a litre more and the loss of jobs, prosperity and even lives that could go with it. It is a perfectly acceptable thing for foreigners to die in battle, terrorist attacks, and the neighbour down the street committing suicide after losing his job, so long as we never have to make the changes that could prevent those deaths. We can keep acting like the addict in denial with jobs and economy as the lies we tell ourselves to justify what is happening in the world.


We could take the second, more sustainable option and have a radical, cold turkey break from fossil fuels. The short term economic pain of this would be worth it for the long term health of humanity. All oil could be considered conflict oil, and are we so psychotic as a society to keep sacrificing human life for short term gain? This is an opportunity to create new cities, economies and technologies, because the current boom bust cycle tied to oil prices is holding us back.

*Note: It’s late and I didn’t edit this very well