Sunday, May 15, 2005
Via our distinguished colleague Susan Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla: Salon has just published an interview with James Howard Kunstler, who (as most Zemblans will recall) predicts dire changes in the immediate future when dwindling supplies can no longer sustain America's oil-driven economy. In his new book, The Long Emergency, Kunstler argues that we have "already shot our window of opportunity to have an orderly transition" to the post-oil era:
Q.: Does the Iraq war presage the kind of resource wars that you see in the future?Mr. Kunstler's excellent blog is entitled Clusterfuck Nation.
KUNSTLER: The Iraq war is not hard to understand. It wasn't an attempt to steal Iraq's oil. If that was the case, it would have been a stupid venture because we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars occupying the place, not to mention the lives lost. It was not a matter of stealing the oil; it was a matter of retaining access to it. It was an attempt to stabilize the region of the world that holds two-thirds of the remaining oil, namely, the Middle East.
We opened a police station in the Middle East, and Iraq just happened to be the best candidate for it. They had a troublesome dictator. They were geographically located between Iran and Saudi Arabia. So we went to Iraq to moderate and influence the behavior of the two countries --Iran and Saudi Arabia -- that are so important to us. We desperately wanted the oil supplies to continue coming out of them in a reliable way. So the Iraq venture was all about stabilizing the Middle East. It raises the obvious question: How long can the U.S. hope to occupy unfriendly nations? The answer is, not forever . . . .
Q.: How will this affect our livelihoods?
KUNSTLER: We will no longer be a nation of public relations executives living 38 miles away from town. The future that I see tells me that the larger cities will be in big trouble and the action will be in the smaller cities and smaller towns. They will have resilience. It will be very important to live close to places that have viable agriculture, and the places where this is not possible are going to be in trouble . . . .
Q.: What kind of reaction have you been getting when you say we're better off learning how to operate a horse-drawn plow than becoming a P.R. executive?
KUNSTLER: To put it mildly, a lot of people have trouble processing these ideas.