ISRAELI BANALITY: Israelis stealing food from Palestinians on their way to work (VIDEO)

USA BANALITY WAR: Collateral Murder

The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured.

After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own “Rules of Engagement”.

Consequently, WikiLeaks has released the classified Rules of Engagement for 2006, 2007 and 2008, revealing these rules before, during, and after the killings.

WikiLeaks has released both the original 38 minutes video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions.

WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.

WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work.

Ref: Collateral murder

ISRAELI APARTHEID: Closure order against school for Ashkenazi girls only

Closure order against school for Ashkenazi girls only

74 Ashkenazi girls studying on separate ‘temporary’ premises in Emmanuel after parents refused to allow them to study with Sephardi girls

Yaheli Moran Zelikovich
Published:     03.14.10, 17:54 / Israel Jewish Scene

Ministry of Education Director-General Shimshon Shoshani issued a closure order Sunday against a temporary institution used as a school for Ashkenazi girls who have refused to study together with Sephardi girls.

The Beit Yaacov school in the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel had separated Sephardi girls from 74 Ashkenazi girls, and the High Court ruled that the Sephardi girls should be incorporated in an equal fashion and without discrimination. However, parents of the Ashkenazi girls opposed the court’s decision.

The parents announced they would refuse to allow their daughters to continue to study at the school. The Education Ministry then instructed the local authority to submit claims against the parents with the police, indicating that they had broken the mandatory education law.

However, the local authority chose to defend the parents and left the Ministry to submit the claim itself. It was also discovered that the 74 Ashkenazi girls were studying in a temporary “school”. The police are responsible for enforcing the closure order.

The decision to act against the temporary “school” was welcomed by Yoav Laloum, chairman of Noar C’Halacha, an organization fighting discrimination against Mizrahim in haredi institutions. “I am happy that the Education Ministry is acting against those who do not respect the law,” he said.

Stigma

Last week the state comptroller announced that a special committee would be established to investigate the issue of discrimination in state-recognized independent educational institutions, with particular emphasis on Ashkenazi institutions which refuse to take on Sephardi students. The move comes following a recent increase in the number of discrimination claims.

“It’s hard to grasp that independent education is a separate autonomous body,” said Rabbi Avraham Laiserson, chairman of the independent school system and representative of the institutions being accused of discrimination. “There is no basis for the things being claimed. I want to deny this false stigma that has stuck to independent education.”

“I won’t say there are no problems, but this system was established decades ago for the sole purpose of taking in olim from North Africa, Tunis and Iraq, and offering them an education,” he continued. “I blame the press for the headlines. We even organized plastic rooms just for Sephardi girls in one school. I want you to see with your own eyes, and you’ll understand that your facts are mistaken. See how happy the Mizrahi students are with us.”

“There are problems here and there, but parent committees sort out such problems,” he added. “There is discrimination in many places, but we’re the last ones you can blame. Out of all the cases and claims, there isn’t a single example of a court ruling that there is discrimination. After you’ve investigated, come and apologize, then celebrate.”

Ref: Ynet


Bad Education

Report: State encouraging education for rich only  / Yaheli Moran Zelikovich
Adva Center paints grim picture of Israeli education system, which has split over the years into separated systems in terms of nationality, religion, community – and status

VIDEO: American terrorist history

ISRAHELL BANALITY: Israel accused of dooming Ethiopian baby boom (white zionist fertility control of black jews)

A feminist movement has accused the Israeli government of adopting a racist policy towards the country’s Ethiopian Jews.
Activists believe black women are deliberately being given a controversial contraceptive drug to bring about a drop in the population – a claim the government denies.

Thousands of Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel since the 1980s, but their Jewish heritage has been questioned, while their social status continues to suffer.

For nearly four years, Racheli Mangoli has been running a youth center in one of Israel’s poorer communities. Forty-five Ethiopian families live here, but throughout that entire time, only one Ethiopian baby has been born in this neighborhood, and that has alarmed Racheli.

She says: “I smelt something not good. I know about the discrimination here – when I am going with the children, I feel this even when I am going to the supermarket. One women said to me ‘I don¹t know how you can stand next to people like this. When they give me money – I am going and washing my hands.’”

After some investigation, Racheli discovered that many Ethiopian women, keen to avoid getting pregnant while setting up life in a new country, had been placed on a controversial contraceptive, Depo-Provera, a drug few Israeli women have heard of, let alone use.

One woman was first put on it four years ago, and underwent repeated injections every three months. She says it has left her with such terrible pains in her hands and back that she can no longer work. She insists she was never told about its side effects or offered an alternative. Like many Ethiopians in Israel, she’s afraid she will be deported if she questions the authorities.

Dr Factor is reluctant to give the contraceptive to his patients. He says it is known to delay fertility for months after women come off it. In some cases it can cause permanent infertility.

“At least 10 per cent develop substantial side-effects – side-effects like irregular bleeding, the period may disappear, they may have heavy periods. And it is impossible to reverse these side-effects, and until it has worked itself out of the system you can’t reverse these. So it’s possible although the contraception works for 3 months at a time, the side-effects may last for two years – three years – four years – five years,” he says.

In 2004, the American Food and Drug Administration warned against the dangers of the drug, but the World Health Organization refused to restrict its use.

Hedva Eyal has tried unsuccessfully to draw attention to the fact that Ethiopian Israelis are given the drug without being warned of the risks. She claims it is her government’s policy and is nothing short of racism.

She told RT: “They don’t want poor or black children and Depo-Provera gave them the opportunity to have control. If she [a patient] keeps taking an injection every three months, she is not going to have children – you know it is a 100 per cent secure from children I think.”

Hedva says the policy is working – the number of black babies in Israel is decreasing, but there are no official statistics to back up her claim. For community workers and Ethiopian women here, statistics are unnecessary – they feel their reality speaks for itself.

The Health Ministry admits it issues the drug, but says it was never its policy only to administer it to Ethiopian women and reduce the number of black babies in the country.

In their defense, Jewish agencies involved in immigration say they offered several types of contraceptives to the Ethiopian women, and that all of them participated voluntarily in family planning.

Dr. Yee-fat Bitton from the Israeli Anti-Discrimination Legal Center “Tmura”, says it’s not a matter point of view, but of the statistics.

“The statistics are, that 60 percent of the women receiving this contraceptive, this controversial one, are Ethiopian Jews,” Bitton told RT. “And you have to understand that Ethiopians in Israel… […] consist of up to only 1 per cent of the population, so the gap here is just impossible to reconcile in any logical manner that would somehow resist the claims of racism.”

Professor Zvi Bentwich, an immunologist and human rights activist from Tel-Aviv, doesn’t think there is any ground to suspect a certain negative official policy towards Ethiopian Jews.

“I’m not against looking and inquiring into the claim. If there is a claim, one should investigate,” Bentwich told RT. “But when asked about official attitudes, official policy, official medical policy, I am very reluctant that that is indeed a policy of racism on that part.”

REf: Russia Today

WELCOME TO ISRAHELL: Fully supported by whiteness building the apartheid state

VIDEO: Haiti Charges 10 white christian Americans With Child Abduction

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Ten Americans who tried to take 33 Haitian children out of the country last week without the government’s consent have been charged with child abduction and criminal conspiracy, as Haitian officials sought to reassert judicial control after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The Americans, most of them members of a Baptist congregation from Idaho, had said they intended to rescue Haitian children left parentless in the quake and take them to what they described as an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic. But they acknowledged failing to seek approval to remove the children from Haiti, and several of the children have at least one living parent.

The Americans will face a potentially extended legal proceeding in Haiti and could, if convicted, face prison terms of up to 15 years.

In a sign of the cloudy nature of the case, the prosecutor, Mazar Fortil, decided not to pursue what could have been the most serious charge against the group, that of trafficking. The charges will now be considered by an investigative judge, who has up to three months to decide whether to pursue the matter further.

The leader of the group, Laura Silsby, a businesswoman who describes herself as a missionary as well, has also come under scrutiny at home in Idaho, where employees complain of unpaid wages and the state has placed liens on her company bank account.

The lawyer for the group, Edwin Coq, said after a hearing on Thursday that 9 of his 10 clients were “completely innocent,” but that, apparently in a reference to Ms. Silsby, “If the judiciary were to keep one, it could be the leader of the group.”

The Haitian capital lost courthouses, judges, lawyers and its main prison in the earthquake, straining the judiciary along with everything else. Prosecutors said this was the first criminal case to receive a hearing in Port-au-Prince since the natural disaster.

The hearing took place in a hilltop courthouse that had minor cracks in the walls and scores of squatters living outside. A crush of journalists sought access to the defendants on their way into the courthouse, where police officers in riot gear prevented access.

The Americans were transported in two Haitian police vehicles — one labeled “Child Protection Brigade” — from the police station where they have been held since the weekend to Port-au-Prince’s main criminal courthouse. Mr. Coq said beforehand that their immediate release was possible, and the police who transported the detainees took their luggage to the hearing as well in case they were to be freed.

Ms. Silsby, who had helped organize the group’s mission, sounded a hopeful note as she waited to be taken into court, saying, “We’re just trusting God for a positive outcome.”

But during the hearing, Jean Ferge Joseph, a deputy prosecutor, told the Americans that their case was not being dropped and that it would be sent to a judge for further review.

“That judge can free you, but he can also continue to hold you for further proceedings,” the deputy prosecutor said, according to Reuters.

When they received the news, the Americans did not appear distraught, Mr. Coq, their lawyer, said. “They prayed,” he said. “They looked down and prayed.”

Reuters, which had a reporter in the session, said that all 10 of the detainees acknowledged to the prosecutor that they had apparently violated the law when they tried to take the children from Haiti, although they said they were unaware of that until after they were detained.

“We did not have any intention to violate the law, but now we understand it’s a crime,” said Paul Robert Thompson, a pastor who led the group in prayer during a break in the session.

Ms. Silsby asked the prosecutor not only to release the group, whose members range in age from 18 to 55, but also to allow them to continue their work in Haiti.

“We simply wanted to help the children,” she said. “We petition the court not only for our freedom, but also for our ability to continue to help.”

As they were led out of the courthouse one by one for their return to jail, some of the Americans smiled as reporters surrounded them. They left without comment.

The Americans were arrested last Friday as they tried to take the 33 children by bus to the Dominican Republic, where they said they were in the process of leasing or building an orphanage. It is unclear if the group had arranged for someplace to house the children in the Dominican Republic.

A Web site for the group, the New Life Children’s Refuge, said that the Haitian children there would stay in a “loving Christian homelike environment” and be eligible for adoption through agencies in the United States.

The children are being taken care of now at SS Children’s Villages, an Austrian-run orphanage in Port-au-Prince.

The Americans and members of their churches have said that they are innocent of any wrongdoing, and described the case as a misunderstanding. In an interview this week, Ms. Silsby said the group had come to Haiti to rescue children orphaned by the earthquake, and that “our hearts were in the right place.”

But some of the children had living parents, and some of those parents said that the Baptists had promised simply to educate the youngsters in the Dominican Republic and to allow them to return to Haiti to visit.

Ms. Silsby had made her intentions known to child protection officials, human rights experts and Dominican authorities in Haiti, all of whom warned her that she could be charged with trafficking if she tried to take children out of the country without proper documentation.

Some Haitian leaders have called the Americans kidnappers, but their case has created divisions. Outside the courthouse on Thursday, one onlooker backed the Americans. “The process they followed was wrong, but they were not stealing kids,” said Béatrice St.-Julien. “They came here to help us.”

Until Thursday, Haitian judicial officials had left open the possibility that the group could be returned to the United States for trial, sparing Haiti’s crippled justice system a high-profile criminal prosecution fraught with diplomatic and political land mines.

American officials have talked with Haitian judicial authorities about the case, but it is unclear exactly how much lobbying Washington is doing behind the scenes to affect the outcome. The State Department has said that whether to pursue charges for any possible violations of Haitian law remains a Haitian decision.

One expert said that by pursuing the case Haitian authorities seemed to be trying to make a point.

“Haiti’s decision to prosecute the Baptist missionaries may be motivated, in part, by the need to show its own people and the world that it is a viable entity that is tackling the grave problem of international child abductions in Haiti,” Christopher J. Schmidt, a lawyer with Bryan Cave L.L.P. in St. Louis who has been involved in multiple cases of international kidnapping, said in a statement.

HISTORY: The Tragedy of Haiti … and Us

Dr. Paul Farmer tells the story of the beautiful young Haitian girl Acéphie, whose family was driven out of their small farm by powerful forces: a hydroelectric company whose dam flooded the farmland; a dictator (Duvalier) who paid workers 10 cents a day; political violence that disrupted the operations of medical clinics. And a soldier who took advantage of her and gave her AIDS. When she died, her grief-stricken father hanged himself. [1]

Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier became president of Haiti in 1957, and upon his death in 1971 was succeeded by his son Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. During their 30 years of rule 60,000 Haitians were killed and many others were tortured by death squads. The Duvaliers, supported by the U.S., enriched themselves with foreign aid money while Haiti became the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The Haitian people worked in sweatshops for pennies a day while foreign industrialists made millions. In 1986, a people’s rebellion forced Baby Doc out, and the U.S. installed a military government, which continued to terrorize the citizens. [2]

In 1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Catholic priest, was elected president in Haiti’s first free democratic election. He surprised the western world by winning 67% of the vote in a field of 12 candidates that included the U.S. candidate, a former World Bank official. Months later Aristide was overthrown by a US-backed military coup. [3] The Council on Hemispheric Affairs stated after the coup: “Under Aristide…Haiti seemed to be on the verge of tearing free from the fabric of despotism and tyranny…”

For the next three years anarchy reigned in Haiti. A study by Boston Media Action revealed that while human rights abuses attributed to Aristide supporters were less than 1% of the total, they comprised 60% of the coverage in major journals during the two weeks following the coup, and over half of coverage in the New York Times through mid-1992. [4]

Aristide was finally allowed to return, provided that he accept a number of political and economic conditions mandated by the United States.

In 2000 Aristide was re-elected president with over 90% of the vote. The Organization of American States claimed that the election was conducted unfairly, and the U.S. began to withhold foreign aid from Haiti. [5] In 2003 the country was forced to send 90% of its foreign reserves to Washington to pay off its debt. Pressure from business and international organizations was relentless. Aristide was vilified by the Reuters and AP wire services, which relied on local media owned by Aristide’s opponents. On February 5, 2004 a major revolt again forced him out of office. He was flown by the U.S. to the Central African Republic. [6]

Conditions in Haiti have remained desperate, with crumbling roads and infrastructure and nonexistent public services, unemployment at 70%, half the adults illiterate, and the richest 1% of the population controlling nearly half of all of the wealth. [7]

It doesn’t seem possible that the situation could get worse. But now it has.

Paul Buchheit teaches at DePaul University. He can be reached at: pbuchhei@depaul.edu

Notes.

1 Paul Farmer, “Pathologies of Power” (University of California Press, 2005)

2 Noam Chomsky, “Year 501: the conquest continues” (Boston: South End Press, 1993)

3 “Coup in Haiti,” by Amy Wilentz, The Nation, March 4, 2004 (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20040322/wilentz)

‘Bible codes’ on Afghan army guns + US burns Bibles in Afghanistan row (US white christian imperialist war demystified)

Revelations that US troops have been using guns with a Biblical reference inscribed on part of the weapon throws the claim that their military is a secular force into question. The Pentagon has been buying scopes from a company called Trijicon for at least five years. It is South African founder started the practice three decades ago. The company has continued to insrcribe the parts ever since. Al Jazeera’s David Chater has more on the gun sights which are being used in Afghanistan. (Jan 21, 09).

Ref: Al Jazeera

US burns Bibles in Afghanistan row

The video, shot about a year ago, appeared to show military chaplains stationed in the US air base at Bagram discussing how to distribute copies of the Bible printed in the country’s main Pashto and Dari languages.

In one recorded sermon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, tells soldiers that, as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility “to be witnesses for him”.

“The special forces guys – they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus … we hunt them down,” he said.

“Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business.”

Ref: Al Jazeera

The US gas garrison

The Carter Doctrine, established 28 years ago, put the US military in service of assuring the nation’s regular supplies of imported oil. This has near-bankrupted the US and corrupted the military, yet left the US insecure in energy sources and globally loathed. The time has come to demote petroleum and stand down the troops.
By Michael T. Klare

American policymakers have long viewed the protection of overseas oil supplies as an essential matter of “national security”, requiring the threat of – and sometimes the use of – military force. This is now an unquestioned part of US foreign policy.

On this basis, the first Bush administration fought a war against Iraq in 1990-1991 and the second Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003. With global oil prices soaring and oil reserves expected to dwindle in the years ahead, military force is sure to be seen by whatever new administration enters Washington in January 2009 as the ultimate guarantor of US well-being in the oil heartlands of the planet. But with the costs of militarised oil operations, in both blood and dollars, rising precipitously, isn’t it time to challenge such “wisdom”? Isn’t it time to ask whether the US military has anything reasonable to do with American energy security, and whether a reliance on military force, when it comes to energy policy, is practical, affordable or justifiable?

The association between “energy security” (as it’s now termed) and “national security” was established long ago. President Franklin D Roosevelt first forged this association way back in 1945, when he pledged to protect the Saudi Arabian royal family in return for privileged US access to Saudi oil. The relationship was given formal expression in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter told Congress that maintaining the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil was a “vital interest” of the US, and attempts by hostile nations to cut that flow would be countered “by any means necessary, including military force”.

To implement this “doctrine”, Carter ordered the creation of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, specifically earmarked for combat operations in the Persian Gulf area. President Ronald Reagan later turned that force into a full-scale regional combat organisation, the US Central Command, or Centcom. Every president since Reagan has added to Centcom’s responsibilities, endowing it with additional bases, fleets, air squadrons and other assets. As the country has, more recently, come to rely on oil from the Caspian Sea basin and Africa, US military capabilities are being beefed up in those areas as well.

Global protection service
As a result, the US military has come to serve as a global oil protection service, guarding pipelines, refineries and loading facilities in the Middle East and elsewhere. According to one estimate, provided by the conservative National Defence Council Foundation, the “protection” of Persian Gulf oil alone costs the US Treasury $138bn per year – up from $49bn just before the invasion of Iraq.

For Democrats and Republicans alike, spending such sums to protect foreign oil supplies is now accepted as common wisdom, not worthy of serious discussion or debate. A typical example of this attitude can be found in an Independent Task Force Report on the “National Security Consequences of US Oil Dependency” released by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in October 2006.

Chaired by former secretary of defence, James R Schlesinger, and former CIA director, John Deutch, the CFR report concluded that the US military must continue to serve as a global oil protection service for the foreseeable future. “At least for the next two decades, the Persian Gulf will be vital to US interests in reliable oil supplies,” it noted. Accordingly, “the United States should expect and support a strong military posture that permits suitably rapid deployment to the region, if necessary”. Similarly, the report adds: “US naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance.”

The Pentagon as Insecurity Inc
These views, widely shared, then and now, by senior figures in both major parties, dominate – or, more accurately, blanket – US strategic thinking. And yet the actual utility of military force as a means for ensuring energy security has yet to be demonstrated.

Keep in mind that, despite the deployment of up to 160,000 US troops in Iraq and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, Iraq is a country in chaos and the department of defence (DoD) has been notoriously unable to prevent the recurring sabotage of oil pipelines and refineries by various insurgent groups and militias, not to mention the systematic looting of government supplies by senior oil officials supposedly loyal to the US-backed central government and often guarded (at great personal risk) by US soldiers. Five years after the US invasion, Iraq is only producing about 2.5m barrels of oil per day – about the same amount as in the worst days of Saddam Hussein back in 2001. Moreover, the New York Times reports that “at least one-third, and possibly much more, of the fuel from Iraq’s largest refinery is [being] diverted to the black market, according to American military officials” (1). Is this really conducive to US energy security?

The same disappointing results have been noted in other countries where US-backed militaries have attempted to protect vulnerable oil facilities. In Nigeria, for example, increased efforts by US-equipped government forces to crush rebels in the oil-rich Niger Delta region have merely inflamed the insurgency, while actually lowering national oil output. Meanwhile, the Nigerian military, like the Iraqi government (and assorted militias), has been accused of pilfering billions of dollars’ worth of crude oil and selling it on the black market.

In reality, the use of military force to protect foreign oil supplies is likely to create anything but security. It can, in fact, trigger violent “blowback” against the US. For example, the decision by President Bush senior to maintain an enormous, permanent US military presence in Saudi Arabia following Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait is now widely viewed as a major source of virulent anti-Americanism in the kingdom, and became a prime recruiting tool for Osama bin Laden in the months leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks.

“For over seven years,” Bin Laden proclaimed in 1998, “the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorising its neighbours, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight neighbouring Muslim peoples”. To repel this assault on the Muslim world, he thundered, it was “an individual duty for every Muslim” to “kill the Americans” and drive their armies “out of all the lands of Islam”.

Blowback in Iraq
As if to confirm the veracity of Bin Laden’s analysis of US intentions, the then secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, flew to Saudi Arabia on 30 April 2003 to announce that the US bases there would no longer be needed due to the successful invasion of Iraq, then barely one month old. “It is now a safer region because of the change of regime in Iraq,” Rumsfeld declared. “The aircraft and those involved will now be able to leave.”

Even as he was speaking in Riyadh, however, a dangerous new case of blowback had erupted in Iraq: upon their entry into Baghdad, US forces seized and guarded the oil ministry headquarters while allowing schools, hospitals, and museums to be looted with impunity. Most Iraqis have since come to regard this decision, which insured that the rest of the city would be looted, as the ultimate expression of the Bush administration’s main motive for invading their country. They have viewed repeated White House claims of a commitment to human rights and democracy there as mere fig leaves that barely covered the urge to plunder Iraq’s oil. Nothing American officials have done since has succeeded in erasing this powerful impression, which continues to drive calls for a US withdrawal.

And these are but a few examples of the losses to US national security produced by a thoroughly militarised approach to energy security. Yet the premises of such a global policy continue to go unquestioned, even as US policymakers persist in relying on military force as their ultimate response to threats to the safe production and transportation of oil. In a kind of energy Catch-22, the continual militarising of energy policy only multiplies the threats that call such militarisation into being.

If anything, this spiral of militarised insecurity is worsening. Take the expanded US military presence in Africa – one of the few areas in the world expected to experience an increase in oil output in the years ahead.

Time to rethink
This year the Pentagon will activate the US Africa Command (Africom), its first new overseas combat command since Reagan created Centcom a quarter of a century ago. Although department of defence officials are loath to publicly acknowledge any direct relationship between Africom’s formation and a growing US reliance on that continent’s oil, they are less inhibited in private briefings. At a 19 February meeting at the National Defence University, Africom deputy commander Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller indicated that “oil disruption” in Nigeria and West Africa would constitute one of the primary challenges facing the new organisation.

Africom and similar extensions of the Carter Doctrine into new oil-producing regions are only likely to provoke fresh blowback, while bundling tens of billions of extra dollars every year into an already-bloated Pentagon budget. Sooner or later, if US policy doesn’t change, this price will be certain to include the loss of American lives, as more and more soldiers are exposed to hostile fire or explosives while protecting vulnerable oil installations in areas torn by ethnic, religious, and sectarian strife.

Why pay such a price? Given the all-but-unavoidable evidence of just how ineffective military force has been when it comes to protecting oil supplies, isn’t it time to rethink Washington’s reigning assumptions regarding the relationship between energy security and national security? After all, other than George Bush and Dick Cheney, who would claim that, more than five years after the invasion of Iraq, either the US or its supply of oil is actually safer?

Creating real energy security
The reality of the US’s increasing reliance on foreign oil only strengthens the conviction in Washington that military force and energy security are inseparable twins. With nearly two-thirds of the country’s daily oil intake imported – and that percentage still going up – it’s hard not to notice that significant amounts of our oil now come from conflict-prone areas of the Middle East, central Asia and Africa. So long as this is the case, US policymakers will instinctively look to the military to ensure the safe delivery of crude oil. It evidently matters little that the use of military force, especially in the Middle East, has surely made the energy situation less stable and less dependable, while fuelling anti-Americanism.

This is, of course, not the definition of “energy security” but its opposite. A viable long-term approach to actual energy security would not favour one particular source of energy above all others, or regularly expose American soldiers to a heightened risk of harm and American taxpayers to a heightened risk of bankruptcy. Rather, a US energy policy that made sense would embrace a holistic approach to energy procurement, weighing the relative merits of all potential sources of energy.

It would naturally favour the development of domestic, renewable sources of energy that do not degrade the environment or imperil other national interests. At the same time, it would favour a thorough-going programme of energy conservation of a sort notably absent these last two decades – one that would help cut reliance on foreign energy sources in the near future and slow the atmospheric build-up of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Petroleum would continue to play a significant role in any such approach. Oil retains considerable appeal as a source of transportation energy (especially for aircraft) and as a feedstock for many chemical products. But given the right investment and research policies – and the will to apply something other than force to energy supply issues – oil’s historic role as the world’s paramount fuel could relatively quickly draw to a close. It would be especially important that American policymakers do not prolong this role artificially by, as has been the case for decades, subsidising major US oil firms or, more recently, spending $138bn a year on the protection of foreign oil deliveries. These funds would instead be redirected to the promotion of energy efficiency and especially the development of domestic sources of energy.

Some policymakers who agree on the need to develop alternatives to imported energy insist that such an approach should begin with oil extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and other protected wilderness areas. Even while acknowledging that such drilling would not substantially reduce US reliance on foreign oil, they nevertheless insist that it’s essential to make every conceivable effort to substitute domestic oil supplies for imports in the nation’s total energy supply. But this argument ignores the fact that oil’s day is drawing to a close, and that any effort to prolong its duration only complicates the inevitable transition to a post-petroleum economy.

A more fruitful approach
A far more fruitful approach, better designed to promote US self-sufficiency and technological vigour in the intensely competitive world of the mid-21st century, would emphasise the use of domestic ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills to maximise the potential of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and wave power. The same skills should also be applied to developing methods for producing ethanol from non-food plant matter (cellulosic ethanol), for using coal without releasing carbon into the atmosphere (via carbon capture and storage, or CCS), for miniaturising hydrogen fuel cells, and for massively increasing the energy efficiency of vehicles, buildings, and industrial processes.

All of these energy systems show great promise, and so should be accorded the increased support and investment they will need to move from the marginal role they now play to a dominant role in US energy generation. At this point, it is not possible to determine precisely which of them (or which combination among them) will be best positioned to transition from small to large-scale commercial development. As a result, all of them should be initially given enough support to test their capacity to make this move.

In applying this general rule, however, priority clearly should be given to new forms of transport fuel. It is here that oil has long been king, and here that oil’s decline will be most harshly felt. It is thanks to this that calls for military intervention to secure additional supplies of crude are only likely to grow. So emphasis should be given to the rapid development of biofuels, coal-to-liquid fuels (with the carbon extracted via CCS), hydrogen, or battery power, and other innovative means of fuelling vehicles. At the same time, it’s obvious that putting some of our military budget into funding a massive increase in public transit would be the height of national sanity.

An approach of this sort would enhance national security on multiple levels. It would increase the reliable supply of fuels, promote economic growth at home (rather than sending a flood of dollars into the coffers of unreliable petro-regimes abroad), and diminish the risk of recurring US involvement in foreign oil wars. No other approach – certainly not the present traditional, unquestioned, unchallenged reliance on military force – can make this claim. It’s well past time to stop garrisoning the global gas station.

Ref: Le Monde
Michael T Klare is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and author of several books on energy politics including Blood and Oil, Henry Holt, New York, 2005 and most recently Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, Henry Holt, 2008