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We created a monster to keep cheap gas flowing

Make no mistake about it, Saddam Hussein is a Frankenstein monster that the U.S. helped create. Related to this, if you think a gallon of gasoline really costs only $1.65, I’ve got a bridge I want to sell you.

Let’s review a little modern history of the region. The shah of Iran was a westernized American pawn in the Cold War. We needed our people on the Iranian border with the Soviet Union. Muslim Iran was never comfortable with the “western” shah, and when he lost power to the mullahs, our worst nightmare showed up: the Ayatollah Khomeini. Not only did he seize our embassy and threaten to kill the 400 Americans living there, he began fanning the flames of Islamic extremism and hatred for America around the world.

Western oil interests were getting nervous. They could not afford to have anti-U.S., extremist, Islamic revolutions sweeping through the oil-rich Middle East. Khomeini had to be stopped, and the U.S. had the perfect monster for the job: Saddam Hussein. Soon, Iraq attacked Iran and a major war was under way.



Khomeini sent hundreds of thousands of young teen-age boys shouting, “Allah is great” into Iraqi mine fields and artillery fire. The U.S. supplied satellite intelligence photos of Iranian troop movements to Saddam that were indispensable in his war effort. All sorts of covert military aid was given to Saddam during his war with Iran. We did this knowing full well that he was regularly using poison gas against the Iranians. We even ignored his desire for weapons of mass destruction. (Israel in desperation bombed his French-supplied nuclear bomb factory at Osirak in 1981.) When the war was over, a million were dead and the steam had been taken out of Khomeini’s revolution.

Unfortunately, Frankenstein Hussein would not go away. The enemy of our enemy soon became our enemy. His rule became more brutal and sadistic. We ignored our monster until, in a wild and irrational move, he seized the oil fields of Kuwait. Western oil interests were again alarmed. Our monster had to be put back in the box. We decimated his armed forces during Desert Storm and thought that would do it. Stupidly, we didn’t take him out during that operation, and now Dubya wants to take care of his father’s unfinished business.




Bush Senior insisted that weapons inspectors be stationed in Iraq. Later, when Saddam kicked out the inspectors, Clinton and Madeline Albright did absolutely nothing. (Clinton created his own war, with al-Qaida (a.k.a. the “Kosovo Liberation Army”) as his ally, to take the spotlight off “zippergate.” Everybody forgot about the weapons inspectors, and now we are posed to go to war over such inspections.

Moving on, let’s look at Osama’s al-Qaida organization. Osama inherited a fortune that was acquired indirectly from the Western (particularly U.S.) addiction to oil. Osama and the Taliban are an extension of the intolerant and extremist Wahabi sect of Islam, which flourishes in Arabia. Osama’s fortune funded the al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan. Remember that it was 15 Saudis, not Iraqis, on those airplanes on 9/11. Now the government is spending billions on so called “homeland security,” and our freedoms are shrinking. Are you starting to get the picture of what a gallon of gasoline costs?

Without even considering the havoc all this imported oil does to our national “balance of payments” or the health issues caused by burning 160 billion gallons of gasoline a year, $1.65 does not even represent a third of the real cost of a gallon of gasoline.

George Bush is a great improvement over the Clintons. However, his energy policy is a disaster. Never has there been a greater need for America to kick our oil addiction that is both funding Islamic extremists and polluting our biosphere. We have the technology for many alternative energy sources. There are so many new companies and fortunes to be made in an evolving alternate energy industry. America should be leading that movement, just like we led the silicon revolution. We also have the technology for much greater energy efficiencies. What we don’t have is the vision, the political will, and the ability to say no to energy lobbyists. Desert Storm was lousy energy policy, and our Frankenstein has come back to haunt us. Wake up, Dubya.

Michael Schwalm, a resident of Penn Valley, writes a monthly column.


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