Is Security a Subsidy? Phillips Utters Irony and Spanks The GOP

Democracy Now had Kevin Phillips on yesterday (link) to discuss his new book "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century." Of particular note is his assertion that the Armed Forces are being used to safeguard oil, as opposed to deployment for defense and security...(continued)

Consider for a moment the story about the way the troops were instructed to guard the oil ministry as opposed to significant museums and cultural/social destinations that were looted and destroyed. Even if you dismiss the importance of that, there is no question that the location of many bases coincide with key oil related infrastructure such as pipelines. Now we know that these decisions are not made at the lower levels and that troops go where they are directed. But how do THEY feel about this? Is this a proper use of military resources? How much private gain should we permit on this question? OIl is not a PUBLIC COMMODITY and it is not a non-profit system. Oil certainly impacts our economy, etc. but to drvie policy to the extent that it does? TO now drive our military strategies? While people NOT IN COMBAT OR IN DANGER pocket millions?

Already, the costs of recruitment are soaring. Isn't it time to take a hard look at HOW personnel resources in the military are utilized? Why are we not requesting that BIG OIL kick in from their windfall record profits? A bonus to these men and women? ANYTHING?

And does this sound consistent with the ol'GOP?

And what about the line between massive multinational energy companies and their use of public resources to secure their production and delivery? Does the military get a cut of their profits for services rendered? Its amazing to me when we look at public resources in this context, the differences in opinions that shake out. But the question remains: Is it right to use the military to protect strategic oil infrastructure beyond the routine defense of probable targets? Should the public claim a cut of their profit? Maybe Exxon should pay to recruit men and women! Pay for ads, and instead of forcing recruiters to sell a controversial war-send the Exxon HR people to do it!

Now Kevin Phillips is no policy hack, he is respected by many traditional, conservative republicans as a vocal critic regarding the hijacking of their party. Hell, he's respected by many Democrats. He's brilliant- even if you disagree.

Despite his recent rants, Kevin Phillips is not exactly a bleeding heart liberal- nor has he switched sides. He represents a different kind of Republican view. As many of you know, he was considered to be THE authority on GOP strategy during the 70's and 80's which is why some of his remarks are forcing so many to take pause. But people on both sides of the aisle are taking an interest in what he has to say, especially Republicans who share his view that the current administration is not representative.

A sampler:

KEVIN PHILLIPS: It’s really an appalling thing, because I -- in the course of the last couple of days, as my book tour started, I’ve talked with a number of conservatives, people running conservative publications, old aides from the Republican campaigns back in the 1960s and 1970s, and everybody agrees, and some are even starting to say it semi-publicly: this man is a national embarrassment.

AMY GOODMAN: Conservatives?
KEVIN PHILLIPS: Conservatives.
AMY GOODMAN: On what grounds?
KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, some just because they know him and don't think anybody with his lack of qualifications should be president, others that think that the country has a black eye, others that think that conservatism is now being threatened as much as liberalism was in the late 1960s by the Johnson administration. This is just a convergence of the ineptitude of one man, of the complicity of a number of other senior people in the administration -- I don't know their exact motives -- and a horrible situation for the Pentagon, because the Pentagon realizes that the American soldiery in Iraq is being brutalized in a way that then casts disrespect on the American army, that interferes with recruitment. I, two years ago, gave a talk near Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and already dozens of people from the military were saying that this was going to be a black eye. And it’s worse than a black eye. And you really have to say, and I have to say, that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, if we had a parliamentary system, they would be there before the bar of the Congress, having to defend this. And that's where they should be.

More Phillips:

KEVIN PHILLIPS: The peak oil idea is that just as the United States oil production peaked in 1971, that we have a limited amount of oil globally, and that it’s something that can't be re-created. It’s running out. And the expectation of some is that the oil production of the non-OPEC countries will peak at some point during the 2010s, and that then the production of OPEC itself will peak in the 2020s or 2030s. Now, some people think that Saudi production has already peaked.

Now, if you believe this, and it’s possible, then we face an enormous convergence, again under specific oil-related circumstances, of a global struggle for natural resources as the price of oil climbs, as we turn the armed services into a global oil protection service, which has been happening, and as we see the administration refuse to grapple with the need to really curb oil consumption in the United States, which is mostly through transportation and especially motor vehicles.

And I just have a sense, as many others on the conservative side do, this administration has no strategy to deal with these converging problems, be they foreign policy, military, oil, debt.

Bill Moyers Interviewing Kevin Phillips on NOW-1994: here


Left of Center said...

I just got this book and will start it in a day or two. Just peiecing through the pages I can see alot of reasons conservitives should be demanding change.

Leslie said...

Shorter Phillips: Bush is an idiot!

I'm The Devil, Who The Hell Are You? said...

Oil company people are my kind of people. First they get the US taxpayer to foot the bill for their stealing Iraqi oil, and then they get to charge the same people exorbitant sums to buy the oil they halped pay to procure. It's so delicious and evil, I wish I had thought of it myself.

Lew Scannon said...

Bush's policies are being set by the neocons, who are not conservative in anyway. It's about time conservatives woke up and found this out.

Anonymous said...

Bush's policies are being set by the neocons, who are not conservative in anyway. It's about time conservatives woke up and found this out.

Agreed the so-called "Buckley conservatives" wouldn't ordinarily stand for this, but...are there any left alive? (I kidd. I KIDD!)

RM said...

I think there are, but they perceived the earlier Bush years as times of exception and crisis and did not probably view the administration with the same eye for criticism because it was not politics as usual, the country felt very much under threat...so he was given some latitude.

The Fat Lady Sings said...

It’s what Phillips had to say about the Bush ‘theocracy’ that really caught my attention. He confirmed my fears that Bush - in accordance with his direct ties to extremist elements of the evangelical community - believes in Armageddon - 'The Rapture'. He believes it will happen soon; so no matter what the consequences are to any of his actions, he will never have to deal with them. He’ll be in heaven. Financial decay, nuclear fallout, environmental holocaust – those possible problems mean nothing to him, or his adherents. I heard Phillips say this casual dismissal of the world as already ending scared the hell out of him. Me too - now more than ever.


I'm not sure what Bush actually believes but contrary to much of the liberal talk I don't honestly think Bush has the real decisive power either. For the past decade and longer there has been a core group setting strategy, Wolfowitz, Cheney, etc. and the President is a puppet to this in many ways.

Many people focus on the President and rightfully so but while we do many things go unnoticed. For example, people hardly pay attention to local races- some candidates even run unopposed! Thats ridiculous. Recently a woman told me "I don't vote or pay attention to local because it doesn't affect me or my family". First, that reveals the self centered view of political involvement. If its not a 'front of my face'concern who cares? Then there is the misconception that local things don't matter. Where do higher level politicians come from? Your local people have alot of say about your life. Yet few people turn out for that.

Left of Center said...

Bush was the perfect President for the neocons to install. He is a Bush,(A+) He is compliant to his handlers, and he is a narsissist. people say Bush is stupid. I don't think this. I think he is probably slightly abouve the average IQ, but that his years of Drug and alcohol abuse has damaged him. I also agree with some experts in mental disease that think he has Pre Senile Dementia. Even his last press conference shows behavior ticks that clue one in on this. there is a link to the video on Born at the Crest of Empite.

Rhino-itall said...

this guy is a left wing political hack, has been since the 70's. He is no conservative, and if he is a republican it is in name only.

"He's brilliant- even if you disagree."

No he's not brilliant, and in fact is a policy hack. Since it seems that most of you are just hearing of him, here's a review of one of his earlier works, from Fortune magazine. Have fun with it.


GraemeAnfinson said...

did you guys see bush pause when someone asked him if the mess in Iraq was a sign of the apocolpyse? this guys either believes that silly shit, or he panders to the people that do. i don't know which is worse.

anybody who doesn't stay on message is a hack in republican terms. everyone stays on the same page and original thoughts are discouraged


I am pretty sure that this is NOT the first time people have heard of him and I do not think he is a hack, I am not saying I totally buy his sudden concern about oil but that was not the point or why I posted on Phillips.

I posted on Phillips to ask the question about use of the military for the protection of oil-based infrastructure and whther or not the public might consider recouping some of the profit toward that security.

Really, it was not to get into Phillips and his legacy. I think the point is evident in the post itself which is accessed via the link. Its ok not to read it but why not address the merit of the question, not the merits of Phillips? What do you think about the question?


And Graeme- I think the pause and his answer were designed to give the IMPRESSION that he thinks Apocalyptic Left-Behind talk is silly, but isn't it true that Bush was a liason for right wing interest groups way back? Certainly this was NOT the first time he has heard of the matter.

Rhino-itall said...

ok, here we go. lily's going to get mad at me.

Lily i did read it, but honestly i thought it was silly. I avoided it because i didn't know how to address it without sounding condescending, but here it goes. Should the U.S. military be guarding stratgic interests in war?? i mean is that a serious question????

Should the American oil companies have to pay for some of this protection???

WHY??? They don't benefit, WE benefit. Are you one of those people that thinks Exxon Mobil decides the price of a gallon of gasoline??? Really???

Here's how it works, If the supply of oil goes way down, the price will go way up. Exxon will make money either way, in fact, they would make even more short term because they have locked in a set price on the futures market already. So if the price goes higher short term, and then stabilizes and comes down a little, they stand to make even more!!
More importantly, Why would we penalize a private industry for being successful??
The price of gasoline would skyrocket, the price of heating oil too. and what about the impact on the environment?? i can't believe blowing up oil fields is good for global warming.

and what about the new country that is going to be counting on oil revenues to sustain their young struggling economy? If we didn't protect the oil fields, the complaint would be that Bush was too stupid to protect the only natural resource and the most important strategic assett in the country!

So go ahead and say that i'm a bad guy for saying it is a silly argument, but it just seems to me that you didn't think it through.

Lily Branford said...

Rhino the purpose is to ask what you think, I have not really made up my mind yet on the questions. Do you honestly think that every question I ask is indicative of my personal belief? Go ahead and be condescending, why stop now? I fully expect it from you and it does not bother me in the slightest. I want some different views, feedback, I'm not really concerned about agreement, I am looking to discuss it. Am I not communicating my point maybe? Why do you think I run off crying every time you disagree?

Do you think my purpose is to post some 'fuck bush' stuff every day and have a group of people who already agree with me go "yeah! cool!" or do you think I want to hear what people think? If you think that military resources should be used for the purposes of providing security- just say so and maybe why. All this other stuff about condescension is not needed, I know you worship my boot. Don't hold back. "Obviously I don't care if people think I'm an asshole". So- be an asshole. Thats your job around here. I'll stop paying you, you damned Reagophile.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

have you looked at the price of oil recently? hell yes guard the damn oil, use nukes if you have to.

screw protecting people, i drive a damned volvo station wagon for christ' s sake.

Lily Branford said...

Gisher! I traded in my wagon and I miss it, I'm guessing you have the turbo? cross country? awesome in snow.

Best vehicle and I don't care if nerds drive volvo wagons.

Rhino-itall said...

You haven't made up your mind yet? Are you leaning one way or the other?
I don't think you run away crying, but you do get kind of sensitive and defensive when challenged.

the good thing about not deciding on a subject is that you can never be wrong, of course you can never be right either.

So what do you think? have you decided yet, or are you waiting for me to decide for you?

Oh, and i don't worship your boot, i just really like boots on women.



Well, Rhino I expected that people would give examples of less sensitive infrastructure that the government safeguards. Then I expected a distinction to emerge about the differences of commodities that we are dependent on. The point is to reflect a bit. And no, I don't wait for your answers Rhino. I wait to see what opinions emerge naturally.So--

I think in some cases the military must protect sensitive areas during a war as part of security. War is not the same as peace security. (I do not think a war should have a strategy based on that protection or location of bases, per se)

I think that looking at ways that the oil industry might share at least in a limited way in the costs of security are not necessarily incompatible with your statements on pricing. And are not punitive. They get drilling and other free perks, not just the provision of security. You think suggesting they kick in more is a punishment for profit? Some of their profit is in fact based on indirect subsidy. I realize most oil is not from our interior and I am not suggesting that-but the "deals" made at times amount to a double screw. They take from the public then they charge again. That part is ridiculous.

I also do not think that the question of subsidy extent is worthless to debate. And on security,the question was based as many are on "opportunity costs" -money spent on X means less money for Y. Troops used for one purpose mean less for another, and perhaps a third option is a security force NOT considered a combat unit but trained specifically in infrastructure security to be deployed as an alternative.

Suppose there were special units created for security that could focus on things like the oil fields etc. and NOT detract from the troop levels? People might hesitate to enlist but might enlist for a security force. I was thinking of the peace keeping mission model. And lastly, I was curious to hear Spook's expertise/opinion because it seems to me that we can:
-still secure oil
-free up troops by creating a different division so combat troops can attend to their mission while specialized troops focus on security
-that "security" would resonate better for recruitment purposes for the military recruitment efforts.

Then there was the question of tapping the oil profit, possibly they could give a small percentage of profits specifically to these security forces for their operations. That was the destination of my thinking.

The questions are just questions. Phillips is an opportunist but one that has successfully executed strategies that he orchestrated. We don't have to like those strategies.

Frederick said...

Why am I the only one who thinks gas should be at around $5 or $6 a gallon. Nothing would get us over to clean fuel efficiant cars faster.

tp said...

Its been said that if only people had to pay for gas what they pay for Snapple and Mountain Dew- they would learn a lesson and change their ways. People sometimes pay more for WATER than they do Gas, precious as it is and as much as we bitch about it.

john_m_burt said...

No matter how many guns bristle around how many oil fields, the oil will still be used up one day, so we will never find "energy security" by these means.

In 1954 Congress passed a "National Defense Highway Act" that put the country on wheels (maybe not the best idea in hindsight, buyt it sure as hell worked). In 1958, they passed a "National Defense Education Act" that put a million kids through college and created the boom of the late 1960s.

Now it's time for a "National Defense Energy Development Act". Catchy name, don't you think?

RichM said...

I wonder how far down the road to energy independence we would be if we had invested $225 billion in the effort?

Also, given theory x theory y logic, what would you rather spend $200 billion on port security, schools and education, national health care, or invade Iraq.

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