Kicking the Habit
Re: “An Oily Quagmire”

Gitlin is correct, of course, but this seems to be a chicken/egg problem. What must come first, the fuel-efficient vehicles that meet families needs or consumers who will only buy such efficiency? Must the market be there before the offer of efficiency and sustainability?

I for one would love to use alternative fuels. But without government sponsorship they currently are too far out of my family’s budget to be considered. We drive a compact car that gets good mileage and use energy efficient appliances, but a piece-meal approach to such efforts is in the end not likely to make much of a dent in the overall problem and none at all on the geo-political realities.

We Americans adore waiting until crises happen before acting proactively.

Glenda Turck
Killeen, TX

Thank you for your essay. I wholeheartedly agree that we only have ourselves to blame for funding a substantial part of international terrorism.

I believe, however, that another techno-fix (solar and wind) is the elegant solution to our addiction to foreign oil. Given the inertia (not to mention the political lobby) of the liquid-fuel industry plus the automotive industry, an alternative to foreign gas is the way to go. And American farmers (in bad shape at this juncture) provide the key: both bio-diesel (made from vegetable and animal fats/oils) and alcohol (distilled from grains, tubers, etc.) are safe, cleaner than petro-fuels, and fit nicely into the vast infrastructure of refineries, gas stations, automotive designs, etc. And they’re 100 percent “Made in America”.

I agree that the oil industry would be the most recalcitrant to retool. But what could be more patriotic than to give the Arabs the boot and bring the American family farmer back from the brink of extinction? Where the consumer leads, business will surely follow.

Steve Gregorio
Project Manager
Barrier Technologies

Excellent article.

I’m writing from Germany, another auto-crazed society, which is currently trying out an eco-tax reform. As the tax at the pump increased, other taxes were reduced proportionally. Whether this will survive the coming election or not is highly questionable. The acceptance problem, as I see it, is the same as in the US: media coverage.

Until the general public has access to both sides of the question, rather than the carefully corporate-crafted media coverage, nothing can be achieved.

Judy Mehling


War Without End
Re: “The Permanent War Campaign”

Interesting piece, but the sad truth is that this war campaign is not just rhetoric — it’s real.

There is much evidence that suggests this administration’s war machine will be making a move soon on Iraq (and beyond). The Department of Defense has relocated the 3rd Army HQ to Kuwait, the HQ for the Marine Corps of the Asian theater has been moved to Bahrain, Patriot missle batteries have been positioned on Israel’s eastern border, Air Force squadrons have become intensified in Turkey and their new permanent stations in Central Asia, not to mention the numerous carrier battle groups that have been deployed in the Indian Ocean for the recent conquest of Afghanistan. The Department of Defense has also recently reestablished a Joint Defense Group with Israel and last month they conducted an exercise playing out the “Iraqi scenario”. Officials in Israel have publicly stated that the Pentagon has been given the green light for an attack against Iraq. Finally, the best evidence is the fact that the President and various members of his administration, have been preparing the American public in both overt and not so overt ways that action against Iraq will soon commence.

An empire does not undertake actions such as these in order to give the administration the illusion of strength for the Sunday morning talk shows. The American military is not a paper tiger. Although the President may find many supporters within the ranks of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense is, by its very nature, apolitical and its mission is to create real war, not simply speech soundbites for campaign stops at the local VFW.

It appears the truth behind the President’s rhetoric is far more sinister. This administration’s agenda is real war in Iraq and beyond for motives that have nothing to do with the 2004 election. Certainly they will exploit their war(s) for the public support that will inevtitably follow, but they are not fabricating artificial scenarios so the public may stand in awe of the might of its “Great Leader.” In light of the reality of the situation, this administration is truly fueling a “Permanent War Campaign”. Unfortunately for all of us, it will exist in the mountains of Afghanistan, the desert plains of Iraq and Iran, the jungles of Colombia and the Philippines, Indonesia, Yemen, and Somalia and not simply on paper.

David W. Jones
Nashville, TN

I think this article is exactly right. I am outraged by Bush’s exploitation of this tragedy for his own political purposes. Is it true that so much of America is being hoodwinked by this shallow man? Here is a man who sees 5000 dead New Yorkers as hitting the Trifecta. Here is a man who presides over the deaths of 153 people with a silly grin on his face. As much as I hated Timothy McVeigh for what he did, and as much as I agreed it was probably nescessary to execute him, hearing of the death of any human being just doesn’t make me giggle like a little school girl.

This man expoits dead people. I have read recently that he has continuously exploited his family name for benefit in the oil industry and political expediency.

Terrence Kisting