Debating Middle East Disengagement

Four years ago, I engaged in an extended debate with Dave Schuler from The Glittering Eye hosted by Outside the Beltway. My initial post argued:

I have argued for a the United States to maintain a dramatically smaller “footprint” on the ground in the Middle East while actively seeking to reduce our “fingerprints” on policy developments in the region. The U.S. military is too active and too visible. American Embassies are too large. And in general, our role in region is too overwhelming. Poll after poll shows the same thing — The United States is blamed for many of the misfortunes of the region and is considered an aggressive, hostile, imperialist power. At this point, our active involvement is self-defeating.

We structured this as a formal debate, and the full set of links include in addition to the affirmative case quotes above:

I don’t know if any of this is useful to revisit, but it strikes me that in light of recent events, it is worth considering whether the United States remains too heavily involved in the Middle East.






153 replies
  1. 1
    amorphous says:

    it is worth considering whether the United States remains too heavily involved in the Middle East.

    Seriously, is this rhetorical?

  2. 2
    craigie says:

    Yes, it is (that is, too heavily involved).

  3. 3
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    Isolationism is underrated.

  4. 4
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    As long as oil and Israel are there, we’ll stay too heavily involved, too.

  5. 5
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: At least I can fucking understand oil.

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: No reason to be deeply involved there other than oil.

  7. 7
    Soonergrunt says:

    @ Bernard Finel, top:

    it is worth considering whether the United States remains too heavily involved in the Middle East.

    I would accept that as a given. I would also hasten to point out that it doesn’t matter because no matter what we do or don’t do, we’ll be blamed for the bad stuff that happens there, and never get any credit for any good we might do. I would continue to point out that it doesn’t really matter, but for a still different reason: The only industry of consequence any of those countries in that region has is petroleum extraction. They have to sell it somewhere, and while they may make noise about not selling it to us, they don’t really have much of a choice, the way the market is structured. They sell to the people who can pay, and there’s not a whole hell of a lot they (or we, for that matter) can do to dramatically affect that one way or the other.
    So by reducing our footprint we reduce our attack surface. Good enough for me.

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    I was curious how anyone with an IQ above room temperature would argue that we need a bigger presence in the Middle East, so I skimmed one of Schuler’s posts. This sounded so stupid I pretty much stopped reading:

    I don’t believe there is any reason to believe that we can achieve 100% of the benefits of disengagement from the Middle East without withdrawing completely from the Middle East and that, for good or ill, is beyond our grasp since it would be both unconstitutional and politically difficult.

    Unconstitutional? What?

    In order to eliminate what Dr. Finel has characterized as our “fingerprint” from the Middle East we would not only need to remove our military bases from the Middle East but we would need to ban travel between the United States and the Middle East, trade with the Middle East, prohibit American NGO’s from operating in the Middle East, and so on.

    No one is arguing that, you twit.

    Maybe someone else can read the rest and summarize it nicely for me.

  9. 9
    jwb says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Actually, if it wasn’t for the oil, I doubt we’d have this same interest in Israel.

  10. 10
    The Dangerman says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    As long as oil and Israel are there, we’ll stay too heavily involved, too.

    Ding.

  11. 11
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @jwb: You seriously misunderestimate the christianist influence in our foreign policy, I think.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    There is one reason, and one reason alone, that we are so heavily involved in the Middle East.

    Oil.

    Our entire economic infrastructure is dependent on it. Our urban areas have been allowed to develop based on the assumption that fuel for our transportation system (primarily the automobile) will be cheap and plentiful. Our food distribution systems depend on it. We’ve even come to be dependent on it for agriculture, in the form of both fertilizer and harvesting means.

    When Jimmy Carter sought to end our energy dependence on oil, he was taking the first steps at disengaging us from the Middle East. But vain, greedy men did everything they could to stop it, because they feared that oil might no longer be as vital to the functioning of the economy if Carter’s initiatives succeeded.

    So they did what they could to sabotage it.

    We’ve lost 30 years, we’ve exacerbated the existing trends of hydrocarbon emissions by not having alternatives, and we may now be on a course that cannot be altered for civilization annihilation.

    The species might survive, in greatly diminished numbers, but the question of if we’ll ever get back to this level again is wide open, because we’ve destroyed so much fossil fuel foolishly over the past century.

    It looks very bad. We have men like Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney to thank for it. “Conservatives” who were and are anything but.

  13. 13
    piratedan says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: we were deeply involved in the creation of the Israeli state post wwii, collective European/US guilt after discovering the depths of evil regarding the Holocaust and the issue of repatriating folks while the partitioning of Europe was ongoing… was it a great solution, not really but based on other options…. since then we’ve helped them help themselves… lately they’ve tried to be the tail wagging the dog

  14. 14
    bt says:

    The middle east has been nothing but a long-running crisis for our country, for as long as I can remember. Gas crises, hostage crises, war after war.

    It should be obvious to anyone at this point that it is a toxic region and America has been burned over there again and again and again. And now the drum beats are sounding for another war, this time with Iran.

    I guess the only good thing about the clusterf**k in Iraq is that it stopped Bush and his idiot team from going on to Tehran.

    Honestly, it’s a lost place, and I just don’t know what to say for Israel. They are just so stuck and there seems no answer for them. But they did choose to move to one of the worst neighborhoods on the planet, setting up shop on stolen / contested land – And now all they do is complain about the crime and how the police never come when they call.

    I look forward to our disengagement, sooner or later.

  15. 15
    presquevu says:

    Would Romney’s outsourcing of Dept of State security to Blackwater count as a smaller footprint?

  16. 16
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @piratedan:

    It really is an unfortunate accident of history that the land called “the Holy Land” is right next door to the greatest pool of oil on the planet.

    If it were not for that fact, the problem of a Jewish state being created on lands that been settled by non-Jews for centuries, but once, in the distance past, had been the Jewish homeland would be considerably less of a problem.

    We have strong cultural reasons to be interested in that little plot of land, and then of course there’s the entire issue of Holocaust guilt that exacerbated an already existing guilt about how Jews had been treated for centuries in Europe.

    Couple this with our addiction to oil, and it’s far more than the sum of its parts in terms of interest and the trouble created by that interest. Add in that geographically, it’s about as far from our homeland as you can get, and yet we’re so dependent on it…the logistics of protecting our interests are formidable indeed.

  17. 17
    mai naem says:

    Hah, I thought I was going to say something intelligent!something different! And then I see Bjrs have already made the point I was going to make: Take care of oil dependence, we take care of the Middle East. If we can be totally energy independent(I mean absolutely minimal oil) we can tell Israel to fcuk off and the Arab countries to fcuk off and then tell both of them to fcuk each other all night and all day.

  18. 18
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    It really is an unfortunate accident of history that the land called “the Holy Land” is right next door to the greatest pool of oil on the planet.

    Land of Milk and Honey, baby! /fundamentalist

  19. 19
    GxB says:

    @Mark S.:

    Maybe someone else can read the rest and summarize it nicely for me.

    Totally without reading the argument here but my money is on “Because, shut up!”

    And I agree with what’s already been said, we’re there for Oil and Israel – and deeply cynical reasons underlie those two at that.

    I’m of the opinion that our military footprint could be at least halved everywhere with no ill effect provided chickenshitshawks like Bolton, Cheney, Bibi, et.al. didn’t have so much clout. Alas, “real world” realities and such have sealed much of our fate.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @bt:
    A key part of the solution for Israel is to stop backing them up when they do stupid stuff. IMO, our security commitment to Israel should extend to protecting them against unprovoked attacks by their neighbors and nothing more. Instead, we’ve had a tendency to back up any crazy thing the Israeli government chooses to do. The result is that they feel comfortable antagonizing all their neighbors because they’re sure that we’ll defend them if they ever go to far and provoke another war. If they didn’t have that confidence, they’d be a lot more cautious and more likely to solve their problems with long-term diplomacy.

  21. 21
    jwb says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: No, the Christian policy is cover for the oil.

  22. 22
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan: Fuck Israel. That is all.

  23. 23
    Wag says:

    Ive argued,sort of tongue in cheek, sort not, that a wall should be built around the entire Midfle East, and no one and no thing should be allowed in or out until either everyone dies or peace finally breaks out. No weapons in. No food in. No troops. Nothing It might take a decade or a thousand years. Whenever they’re either willing to negotiate and play nice, or whenever they’ve killed everyone, doesn’t matter. We should ignore the entire region until they show they can live as human beings instead of religious nutcases.

  24. 24
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: And it sure is fucked up that our only friend [sic] there is one of the only places that doesn’t have any oil.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:

    @bt:

    I don’t know that I would call it a “lost place,” exactly — I think the recent Arab Spring was a good sign that people in the Middle East want major changes in favor of democracy — but I think we’re very close to being at the point where our continuing military presence is counterproductive (assuming we’re not already past that point, of course).

    In fact, that trend towards the countries of the Middle East wanting more self-governance and less meddling should be our cue to bow out gracefully and let them do it. But, as others have said, oil and Israel mean we’re pretty much trapped.

  26. 26
    Tractarian says:

    I don’t know if any of this is useful to revisit, but it strikes me that in light of recent events, it is worth considering whether the United States remains too heavily involved in the Middle East.

    What do “recent events” have to do with the US’s “involvement” in the “Middle East”?

    I mean, yes, the embassy attacks were only possible because we actually have a diplomatic presence in those places – are you saying we should withdraw all foreign service staff from dangerous and/or Arab countries because we’re scared of getting attacked?

    Keep in mind the US’s role in stopping Qaddafi is a big reason it wasn’t much worse. (Read the Michael Lewis article to see how American servicemen are treated in Libya – they got the flower greeting that Cheney promised us in Iraq)

  27. 27
    Wag says:

    @mai naem:

    I see you and I are thinking on parallel paths. Agree 100%.

  28. 28
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    It’s a complicated place. But seeing as Denmark just went through this a few years back and managed to survive, I think we’ll soldier on somehow. I think there’s more choices than merely following Bibi to our doom and trying to control everything from morocco to Pakistan in the name of security or leaving and hoping the trade routes remain open.

    Yes we get blamed for everything. Personally I’m not so needy that I desire validation for everything that happens.

  29. 29
    Carl Nyberg says:

    How economically intertwined is Israel and the Military-Industrial Complex?

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Wag:

    We should ignore the entire region until they show they can live as human beings instead of religious nutcases.

    We’d have to parachute in our own religious nutcases (there are fucking millions of them) to get the full effect.

  31. 31
    Chris says:

    @jwb:

    Actually, if it wasn’t for the oil, I doubt we’d have this same interest in Israel.

    Good instinct, but that’s the one Middle Eastern issue where that’s actually not true. Oil is the reason we weren’t fully in the tank for Israel for a while… I mean yes, we supported their creation, but there plenty of concerns from powerful people at the time (mostly the oil sector which had been carefully inserting us into the Persian Gulf) against alienating the Arabs by taking too pro-Israeli a position. (Check out our reaction to the Israeli attack on Egypt in the fifties under Eisenhower, something that would be utterly unthinkable today).

    We were still friendly, and public opinion favored them over the Arabs, but we weren’t Israel’s main patron until the sixties – France was. And the absolutely unhinged, unquestioning obedience to their whims – that took a while later to set in, with a lot to do with the rise of the religious right.

  32. 32
    Chris says:

    @piratedan:

    we were deeply involved in the creation of the Israeli state post wwii, collective European/US guilt after discovering the depths of evil regarding the Holocaust and the issue of repatriating folks while the partitioning of Europe was ongoing… was it a great solution, not really but based on other options…. since then we’ve helped them help themselves… lately they’ve tried to be the tail wagging the dog

    IMHO, fuck that shit. Feel guilty about the Holocaust and want to do something for all those poor people? Easy: offer U.S. citizenship with all the constitutional protections therein to any Holocaust survivor who’s interested in it (and not just the Jews, but all the others who suffered and died and barely rate a mention today).

    Apologizing to European Jews by making another people pay for the crimes of Germany/Europe was bullshit, and illustrated beautifully just how shallow our “guilt” and desire to help went.

    And yeah, I agree about the tail wagging the dog, I’d say that’s been the case (like most bad things plaguing America today) for the last two to three decades to a growing extent.

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @presquevu:

    Outsourcing makes matters worse, not better.

    It gives politicians of both parties incentives to meddle, because the downside of sending the military to clean things up is substantially reduced. You can pretend that the incredible support infrastructure (the shaft of the spear, if you will) that is necessary to project power isn’t the military. It’s a bunch of civilian contractors, not subject to Constitutional restraints on military deployments. So it gives the Congress an out from asking the people do we really want to do this, too.

    Rachel Maddow goes into this in great detail in Drift, which I encourage everyone to read, to get more background on the evolution of this system. Basically it’s a way to avoid future Vietnams by outsourcing as much of the shebang as you can get away with to allow wars to happen in defiance of the thoughts of the Framers.

  34. 34
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @jwb: You keep thinking that. For the oil people, they might believe that. But I’ve lived the nutbag fundie life, and it ain’t cover for anything for them.

  35. 35
    Chris says:

    @presquevu:

    Would Romney’s outsourcing of Dept of State security to Blackwater count as a smaller footprint?

    I think that’s exactly the plan.

    You know how Vietnam made it politically impossible for America to get directly involved in Central American wars, so instead we had our spooks run covert wars via mercs, local death squads, lots of shady money and the like? Now that Iraq’s made it difficult for us to involve ourselves that way in any Middle Eastern conflict, I suspect you’re going to see quite a few conflicts outsourced to the Blackwater types, real quiet-like. Just a personal theory of mine.

  36. 36
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    It’s a complicated place. But seeing as Denmark just went through this a few years back and managed to survive, I think we’ll soldier on somehow.

    Denmark’s got oil? Or Denmark is claimed as a holy place by three of the world’s major religions?

    You lost me.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    A key part of the solution for Israel is to stop backing them up when they do stupid stuff.

    This, THIS, Zeus almighty, absolutely THIS.

  38. 38
    piratedan says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: hey, I’m not an Israeli apologist but if you don’t want to know the answers, don’t ask the questions okay? Like most historical events, its complicated. There are more than a few folks who have read a few history books and bought into the propaganda that have understood that these folks have built something from the “ground up” with the generous donations of American Jews. They really did exist for about the first 40 years under the threat that they would be driven into the sea and killed to the last person. they would not have survived without US diplomacy and arms sales, yet for the most part, they were our proxy in the Middle East while the Soviets armed literally everybody else outside of Iran.

    Without them, Suez doesn’t stay open, the Saudi’s don’t have a prime marketplace and so on and so forth. If Israel doesn’t exist? Who knows, maybe we have another world war in the middle east and who knows from there, perhaps not, but mayhap we see the rise of an islamic caliphate again… I don’t know, I’m not sure anyone does.

    Have the Israeli’s been a bunch of ruthless bastards to ensure their own survival/existence… hell yes, but they’ve been living with bombs and bombers for generations now. Not sure how much slack that buys them with the everyday person, but at the diplomatic level and a military strategic level, they are definitely important and as such I don’t foresee any immediate future where we cut them loose in the wind.

  39. 39
    jwb says:

    @Chris: Who do you think is funding the religious right?

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: You have to remember that the US and Western Europe didn’t decree the existence of Israel. There was a unilateral declaration of statehood and the the countries were faced with a choice of recognizing Israel or not. Clark Clifford and George Marshall fought over the issue in the Truman Admin. Marshall thought Clifford’s advocacy of recognition was sparked by domestic political considerations.

  41. 41
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Chris:

    MHO, fuck that shit. Feel guilty about the Holocaust and want to do something for all those poor people? Easy: offer U.S. citizenship with all the constitutional protections therein to any Holocaust survivor who’s interested in it (and not just the Jews, but all the others who suffered and died and barely rate a mention today).

    Apologizing to European Jews by making another people pay for the crimes of Germany/Europe was bullshit, and illustrated beautifully just how shallow our “guilt” and desire to help went.

    Beautifully put. Shit, give them Minnesota or something. Yes, yes, I know Minnesota’s not the land God promised them. But basing your policy on what God promised some persecuted nomads some 3,000 years ago is … well, I don’t know what comes after “fucked up,” but that’s what that is.

  42. 42
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @jwb: are you going with the bilderbergers or the illuminati on this one?

  43. 43
    piratedan says:

    @Chris: and that may have happened under Roosevelt, Truman? I don’t disagree that accepting those folks into the US would have been a more elegant solution and shown who the “adults” in the room were but it’s not as if the late 40’s were a time in the US known for its enlightenment as there were problems reintegrating the soldiers into the workforce, the social upheaval with women working and the ongoing desegregation of the military.

  44. 44
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan:

    hey, I’m not an Israeli apologist

    Everything that comes after this first line of your post serves to undermine it. If it weren’t for Israel, we’d be just another (actually by far the biggest and best) oil customer of the other countries in the region. Which would render everything else you mention moot.

  45. 45
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @piratedan: Plus some of the Jews were Lefties and McCarthy and his ilk were getting started.

  46. 46
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Tractarian: Yep. I agree. Sometimes we try to over contextual use things. I was reading an article at atlantic today (sorry I’m to lazy to find it again) which had a little more information about The tv host who thought it was a good idea to put a clip of the preview on his tv show (can we call him Sheikh Bacile?). It was noted that there were already light protests going on for weeks in front of the embassy demanding the release of the Omar-abdel Rahmen that were lightly attended. The people who are coming out right now are coming out because of the film. Just like they came out against imperialist superpower Denmark seven years ago. I don’t think this is the turning point in world history and a judgement on our policies that we make it out to be.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @piratedan:

    One has to remember that in 1939, FDR handed Hitler a tremendous propaganda coup by refusing the Jewish refugees about the SS St. Louis because they were on tourist visas, refusing to grant them political asylum status. Hitler was ecstatic…”see, the Americans don’t want the Jews, either!”

    Jews were from the “wrong countries” at the time as the US emigration laws were set up, and probably would remain so after WWII. So setting up a Jewish refuge in North America, on US soil, was just not going to happen. The Joe Arpaios of the time would have proceeded to have conniptions.

  48. 48
    JustAnotherBob says:

    Right now we have EVs that can drive 60+ miles on electricity and PHEVs that can drive 30+ miles on electricity and then ‘unlimited’ miles on gasoline if needed. We will have full-sized PHEV pickups and SUVs on the market in a few months.

    Every US driver could do their driving in an EV or PHEV. Driving on electricity is like driving with $1/gallon gas.

    The only thing that is keeping EVs and PHEVs expensive is low manufacturing rates. We haven’t hit economies of scale.

    Were we to switch out our ICEVs for EVs and PHEVs we could supply all the oil we need for our personal driving with our own wells. That would take away the need to keep a military presence in the Middle East, except for continued Israeli support.

    We spend a billion dollars a day to import oil. We spend hundreds of billions more on military forces to “protect our oil supply”. If we pumped a few months of those billions into subsidizing electric vehicles we could drive manufacturing rates up and watch prices fall.

    In a few years EVs and PHEVs would become the dominate vehicles around the world and the flow of money to oil-producing countries would dry up.

  49. 49
    Wag says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Good point. Would you like to help me corner the silk market before we begin the parachute drops? I bet we could get bankrolled by Bail Capital.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Not disagreeing with you, but from where do you suggest the electricity come?

  51. 51
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @JustAnotherBob: And what about those other things we use petroleum for?

  52. 52
    Chris says:

    @piratedan:
    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Sure, but if you don’t care enough about the problem to accept the burden of the refugees in America, then don’t ask someone else to do it either. (Applies to more than just America, of course).

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yup, that’s one of the problems with that scheme.

    Again, if Carter’s initiatives had been allowed to be pursued, we might have high efficiency solar, hydrothermal, tide based, wind based, and other solutions in place right now that would provide the electricity for autos that would dramatically reduce our dependence on oil for fuel for our transportation needs.

    But they were deliberately sabotaged by greedy men looking out for their own short term profit at the expense of the entire country.

    Saying that we’ll find a technological solution is glib, but the fact is, the finding of technological solutions has been sabotaged by some of the very people who say we don’t have to worry, we’ll find technological solutions.

  54. 54
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    Don’t disagree, Chris. Americans love their NIMBYism. This is definitely a case of saying “we don’t want those Jews in OUR back yard…here, Arabs, you take them!”

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: Where did the future Israelis want to go? Evidence points to what is now Israel. Factor in the guilt and horror of the Holocaust – something that is old hat to us but was shocking, stunningly shocking then – and it becomes more understandable that, after the state of Israel declared itself in existence, few argued.

  56. 56
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    where do you suggest the electricity come?

    Seventy percent of it could come from existing generation capacity. Our grid is designed to stay up on peak-peak days – those very hot summer days when demand it through the roof.

    That means that we have a lot of generation unused lots of the time.

    And, obviously, we can’t convert our fleet to EV/PHEV over night so keeping ahead of increased demand by installing more wind and solar would be a piece of cake.

    EVs are perfect partners for wind generation.

  57. 57
    piratedan says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: oooo, you got me, i’m updating this blog from the kibbutz!

    what to do with the Jews is a question that has been going on for a couple of Millennium now…and I don’t think crafting them a homeland out of borders described out of the Bible was the right choice, but hell I wasn’t born yet, nor did I have a say with how the great powers made the calls that they made, all I can do is read the books and see what took place afterwards.

    I do think it’s naive of you to believe that if it wasn’t for Israel everything in the Middle East would just be hunky dory, as we’ve witnessed, Shiites have no problems killing Sunni’s and vice versa nor would the westernization of Iran gone unnoticed by its neighbors. We haven’t even mentioned the world politik games being played by proxy elsewhere in the world and if you truly believe that the Soviets of that time would have just let the west continue to buy oil unchecked to fight those other skirmishes elsewhere…. well just go on believing that if you wish. Maybe without Israel we increase our ties with Iran instead or even the state of Palestine or Lebanon but your fantasy of “if it wasn’t for Israel” is just that… a fantasy.

  58. 58
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: You know there wasn’t a forced migration to Israel, right? We didn’t just put holocaust survivors in ships and plunk them down.

  59. 59
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    And what about those other things we use petroleum for?

    That’s a small percentage of our oil use. And we have alternatives for some of those needs.

    (And think of the CO2 avoided….)

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    are you going with the bilderbergers or the illuminati on this one?

    SPECTRE. Always.

    Everyone else (the Hellfire Club, Cobra, SD-6, the X-Files Syndicate)? Pretenders and pale imitations all.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JustAnotherBob: How long will it take to do this with a Congress that is friendly to the concept? How long with the current Congress? Until then, we are in the Middle East.

  62. 62
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace: Name one use for crude oil, other than the internal combustion engine, for which there is no alternative.

  63. 63
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Is JustAnotherBob related to the (un)beloved brickoven type?

  64. 64
    piratedan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: or the notion that has been floated that the Roosevelt administration took years to believe that there were concentration camps that were actually killing people, despite first hand accounts and intelligence.

  65. 65
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    How long will it take to do this with a Congress that is friendly to the concept? How long with the current Congress? Until then, we are in the Middle East.

    Roughly 50% of our driving is done with cars five years old or newer. If we told car companies “Nothing but EVs and PHEVs starting in 2015/whatever we could be down 30+% in oil consumption in five years.

    Now, I realize that is not a likely political outcome, but we have to start with the ‘engineering’ and then work on the politics.

    As long as we have a huge petroleum jones we will be in the Middle East. We can’t get off oil tonight. But we can get off foreign oil, including that crap that’s getting boiled into fuel in Canada.

  66. 66
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan: Not saying it would be “hunky dory.” Few relationships between nation-states ever are that easy. But would it be reasonable to say that absent our “special relationship” with Israel, our history and present relationship with every other country in the reason would be vastly different – and in the aggregate, much, much easier?

  67. 67
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @PsiFighter37: No he is not! I like this Bob.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: So who is Blofeld?

  69. 69
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    What the fuck does that mean?

    Or perhaps I don’t want to know….

  70. 70
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Nevermind, then, n00bie (I’m drunk, so don’t get hostile). It’s one of the trolls who used to post no matter what.

  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    Nope, they went there willingly…and had been for some time, ever since those seeders of woe in the 21st Century, the declining Imperial Brits, issued the Balfour Declaration and made what was then called, exclusively, Palestine, the promised land, again, for Jews.

    And ever since, it’s been nothing but trouble. First for the Brits, then for the Brits and French, and then, in the 60’s and beyond, for us.

    Honestly, I don’t know what the solution might have been. Like I said, the unfortunate accident of history is that the ancient homeland of a religious/ethnic group is right next door to this huge pool of oil from which we cannot wean ourselves.

  72. 72
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @PsiFighter37: What has he said to make you think that? When he starts talking about Hanuman the Monkey God key fobs, we’ll talk. But until then, I’m convinced you’re way, way off base. When the real Bill (not Bob) comes around, he’s hard to mistake, regardless of handle.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Sure, but why does that mean they should get it, or that we’re obligated to support them if they try to get it?

  74. 74
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: I don’t know. My house is full of plastic. We’ve designed a lot of manufacturing around that. I’ll assume that there is bio jet fuel like there is biodiesel.

  75. 75
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    No Hanuman from me. I’m more into Ganesha and I keep my key ring as light as possible.

  76. 76
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @JustAnotherBob: He’s talking about a really weird troll who was once a regular around these parts, one you don’t resemble in the least. I’d type the troll’s name, but I’m convinced if we say his name three times in the same thread, we’ll summon him. Nobody wants that. Grownups are talking here.

  77. 77
    Todd says:

    Meh. Horseshit. Hen again, I’m working on some fine Buffalo Trace., about +7…

  78. 78
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Oh, probably Dick Cheney. That man’s more of a Bond villain than most Bond villains.

  79. 79
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: I’m drunk, I just see a name and comment without inhibition. Frankly, I haven’t even read much of the thread’s comments.

    #Torpedo_Wreckage

    ETA: If Todd is drinking Buffalo Trace bourbon (as Google seems to believe that is what Buffalo Trace is), he’s got to be severely more lit than me.

  80. 80
    👽 Martin says:

    I don’t know if any of this is useful to revisit, but it strikes me that in light of recent events, it is worth considering whether the United States remains too heavily involved in the Middle East.

    Well, I think that’s true. But I’m not sure it particularly relates to the recent events though. Our footprint in the Middle East is very different today than it was just a few years ago, due as much to changes in US policy as to changes in the region. I think the problem is that the US appears to only be interested in having a heavy hand in the region in a negative way, and never in a positive way.

    One of the underlying agitations that lead to Arab Spring was high global food prices. Unhappy masses led, at least peripherally, to regime change. We’re back in the problem of high global food prices. If regime change was supposed to help fix that problem, it didn’t work. This is a situation where heavy involvement could possibly help – but we aren’t do that because the GOP would rather preserve their MI complex spending of 4% GDP rather than give a billion dollars of welfare to brown moochers and looters in the middle east. It is the most pound foolish thing we could do.

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    I’d type the troll’s name, but I’m convinced if we say his name three times in the same thread, we’ll summon him. Nobody wants that.

    I’m not much for superstitions like this, but, you know, why tempt fate? Be on the safe side, after all, there’s precious little energy expended in doing so. Bits are cheap! It’s not like we’re flooding up the tubes for pr0n at the same time we’re trying to play WoW.

  82. 82
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: I am just saying that it is a bit harsh to judge decisions in 1947 based on knowledge from 2012.

    @Chris: Cheney doesn’t have the charisma for a Bond villain.

  83. 83
  84. 84
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @👽 Martin:

    It is the most pound foolish thing we could do.

    These morons are notorious for not thinking things through, and not having any appreciation for cause and effect.

    Instead, it’s all magical thinking with them.

  85. 85
    👽 Martin says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: He wasn’t weird. I think worrying that the government is monitoring your bowel movements through how often you flush your low-flow toilet is perfectly reasonable.

    And we should build more tractors.

    And while hairy armpits on women isn’t exactly my thing, I fully support women’s right to not shave.

    And I agree with him that gold is a stupid thing to choose as an economic standard when the much more sensible choice of the cost of pizza ingredients is sitting right there for the taking.

    Oh, and we really don’t know where Al Franken touched him in that buffet line. Maybe it was creepy.

  86. 86
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    I’ll assume that there is bio jet fuel like there is biodiesel.

    We’re already flying both commercial and military jets with biofuel. But, realistically, jet fuel is a small percentage of our oil use. We could probably keep on pumping it up for a while, we don’t have to worry too much about jet fuel.

    The low-hanging fruit is our personal rides. We could drive something using wind/solar power and do it for about 1/4th the cost of driving with gasoline/diesel.

    Imagine what it would mean for our economy to have another billion dollars sloshing around in our stores and restaurants every day rather than getting sent overseas.

    And think about all those good jobs installing wind turbines and solar panels. Can’t outsource installation.

  87. 87
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace: I know crude oil is the mother of many products other than gas. Plastics. Fertilizer. Asphalt. Etc. But my goodness, if we can find alternative fuels for our cars, we can find alternative materials to make our cheap, throwaway shit, our fertilizers and our paving materials.

    So many people say we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels because of global warming. I have always thought that to be a bunch of quixotic bullshit. If everyone in this country parked their cars and started riding bicycles tomorrow, I don’t think it would make a damn bit of difference in where the climate’s going. Hell, even if everyone in China and India and everywhere else foreswore fossil fuels – and they won’t be doing so any sooner than we will – I still think we’ve pumped so much shit into the atmosphere that we’re past the tipping point. The oceans will rise. Temperatures will be going up. The weather will continue to change. It’s a done deal. Let’s research that and devote our efforts to dealing with it, because our efforts to reverse it are about as efficacious as a fart in a hurricane.

    Having said all that, I concur with the “green” people that we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels with all haste. Not because I think it’s going to save the planet or even appreciably slow down what we’ve wrought on the planet. I just don’t want anything else to do with these people’s fucking crazy religious wars. If we no longer need oil, we’ll pay attention to their wars about as much as we paid attention to the ones between the Hutus and the Tutsis.

  88. 88
    piratedan says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: not sure I agree and let me explain why… Arab nationalism hadn’t really made much headway in 1948, most of the places were still hereditary monarchies or former client states of Britain, France and Italy. Of those former colonial entities, how many evolved into Military dictatorships post WW II? Damn near all of them.

    Hussein and Quaddafi pretty well illustrate that if these guys have arms and ambition, no one’s borders are safe and with the move counter move games being played in the world, I’m pretty sure the same kinds of games would have been played, just with different proxies. especially given the economic considerations, oil primarily, but trade was also important and access thru Suez cut travel time and costs and opened markets to american shipping.

  89. 89
    JustAnotherBob says:

    Both the US and EU27 seem to have peaked in CO2 output. Our emissions hit a high in 2005 (prior to the recession) and have fallen since then.

    First quarter 2012 CO2 emissions were at the level of 1992 first quarter emissions.

    That is not to say that we are cutting emissions fast enough. It’s just an acknowledgement that we seem to have started altering direction.

    We’ve cut emissions by using significantly less coal (a very good thing), increasing our use of natural gas (good and bad), increasing our renewable generation (a great thing) and increasing both plane and vehicle efficiency (another great thing).

  90. 90
    Chris says:

    @piratedan:

    Arab nationalism hadn’t really made much headway in 1948, most of the places were still hereditary monarchies or former client states of Britain, France and Italy. Of those former colonial entities, how many evolved into Military dictatorships post WW II? Damn near all of them.

    The wartime mentality that lent legitimacy to those autocratic, militarist regimes had a hell of a lot to do with Israel.

    It’s hard to say, exactly, what would’ve happened without Israel or if it would’ve turned out better, but IMO the Arab world post-WW2 would have been as vastly different if it didn’t have to deal with Israel as… the U.S. would have been if it didn’t have to deal with the Soviet Union, basically.

  91. 91
    GxB says:

    @JustAnotherBob: While I like that line of thinking, our MotU’s are again holding our nads over the coals. Google “rare earth metals” and see which country we’d then be beholden too. Nothing but nothing will progress until all the hogs currently at the trough have all available hooves in the pie (Christ, talk about mixing metaphors.)

  92. 92
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @piratedan:

    We’ve pretty much opened the Arctic as an alternative route. The Russians are planning on keeping it open 12 months a year starting in about five years.

    (Not saying that’s a good thing.)

    One way to deal with the crackpot leaders in oil countries is to cut off their incomes by no longer buying their oil.

  93. 93
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan: True all that. But absent Israel, no matter where the border lines are drawn, or which family is atop the hereditary monarchy pile, they’ve got basically one marketable product, oil. Without that, and the money it generates, they’re fucked. Absent Israel, we’d still have been playing on the same level field as the Soviets, and China, and everyone else. In fact, absent Israel, the field’s tilted in our favor no matter who’s on top at any given moment because we suck up so much God damn oil.

  94. 94
    👽 Martin says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    But, realistically, jet fuel is a small percentage of our oil use. We could probably keep on pumping it up for a while, we don’t have to worry too much about jet fuel.
    The low-hanging fruit is our personal rides. We could drive something using wind/solar power and do it for about 1/4th the cost of driving with gasoline/diesel.

    The trick to reducing oil consumption is respecting the refining balance. You can’t turn a barrel of oil into just anything – you’re going to get a certain amount of x,y,z out of each barrel, and while you can tweak those a fair bit, if you need to refine a billion barrels of oil for gasoline, you’re going to get a bunch of jet fuel out of it whether you want it or not. The biofuel helps lower the cost of that fuel, and for the military, gives you additional sources for your fuel for supply chain purposes. Truth is, we’ve always exported a certain amount of refined petroleum – kerosene, lubricants, tars, etc. because we produce more than we need as a byproduct of gas production.

    The whole ‘energy independence’ thing is a bit of bullshit though. We’re exporting 15% of the gasoline we produce. We could reduce our oil imports from outside North America by ⅓ or more simply if we didn’t just refine it and ship it back out of the country again. The whole debate over high gas prices and independence is built on the assumption that every drop of oil dead-ends in the US – it doesn’t. We’re exporting it because other countries are willing to pay more for it than Americans will.

    So, cutting demand for all of the petroleum products around gasoline won’t do shit – at least not right away. We need to cut gas/diesel consumption and then we’ll just naturally produce less of that other stuff. Wind/solar doesn’t help until plug-in electrics become more practical/common. It offsets coal, though. We just need to crank up the mileage standards and build more mass transit.

  95. 95
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Chris: Or what Chris said.

  96. 96
    piratedan says:

    @Chris: i guess that’s the part I want to get across to DES, the oil is the key, not the Jews and without the US/West vs. Soviet Dynamic, yes, it would have been nice to let that region sort itself out and have more of a hands off policy, but geopolitical realities in maintaining access to natural resources dictate that this region wasn’t going to be left to their own devices, with the US and Soviets and even the Chinese in play, someone was going to exert their influence here.

  97. 97
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: Yeah, WWI would have been different without the Russian Revolution too.

  98. 98
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @piratedan: Unfortunately, more than a few of those monarchies survived, got oil, and spread a form of Islam around the world that basically says “democracy, who needs it. Don’t even think about that”

  99. 99
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @GxB:

    . Google “rare earth metals” and see which country we’d then be beholden too.

    I don’t need to. We can build wind turbines and EVs without REMs. We already are.

    Additionally many countries have REM/lithium resources, it’s just that China has been supplying on the cheap and others haven’t developed their sources. We just opened a REM mine in the US.

    Additionally Japan just found a tremendous amount of REM (REEs to be more exact) offshore and could be extracting in a couple of years.

  100. 100
    GregB says:

    President Obama should appoint John McCain as Middle East envoy and send him over to tell everyone to cut the shit.

  101. 101
    piratedan says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace: true that…. which is why you need a scorecard to tell folks apart, the ties and relationships are just as twisted as those amongst the Monarchies in 17th century Europe.

  102. 102
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan: I understand that. I think we’re not really disagreeing as much as it might seem. Yes, someone was going to exert their influence. But how vastly different might America’s exertion been without Israel as not just an elephant in the room, but an elephant with its fat ass sitting on one side of the scale, always?

    It’s all academic, of course. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. But I’ll tell you, Bibi is overplaying his damn hand in this election. Way overplaying it. He is about the most dangerous motherfucker Israel could possibly have at the top right now. Not for us, but for Israel. If we take even a half-step back from them after November, that fucker will be neutered in terms of his regional ambitions. And that, IMHO, would be a damn good thing.

  103. 103
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @👽 Martin: Ok. I know. High food prices. But those countries were being looted as well. Why should we provide food price support when those leaders somehow have managed to make tens of billions?

  104. 104
    GxB says:

    @👽 Martin: Just wait till they fully realize that the countries with all the phat ag land can’t keep up production. That black goop has worked magic over the past century, but you can’t eat it nor does it get the salt out of your aqua fina in any economically feasible way.

  105. 105
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Wind/solar doesn’t help until plug-in electrics become more practical/common.

    Can you describe anyone who couldn’t do their driving with either a “100 mile range” EV or a PHEV that could go 30 or so miles on electricity and then on gas until they quit filling their tank?

    Practical. We’ve got that covered.

    Common is simply a matter of getting purchase price down and that is totally a matter of getting scale of manufacturing up.

    Ever tear down a fuel engine? Got a feel for the vast variety of individual parts in an ICE? Each of those parts has to be individually designed, carefully manufactured and assembled. It takes a lot of energy to extract iron and other ores and to turn them into usable metal and then convert that into pistons and fuel injectors.

    Batteries are nothing more than a container with some chemicals in them. Identical machines can crank out streams of millions of “just the same thing over and over” with affordable inputs.

    Just try telling me that EV/PHEV prices are going to stay higher than ICEV prices. That dog don’t even get out of bed, let long hunt.

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    It’s all academic, of course. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. But I’ll tell you, Bibi is overplaying his damn hand in this election. Way overplaying it. He is about the most dangerous motherfucker Israel could possibly have at the top right now. Not for us, but for Israel. If we take even a half-step back from them after November, that fucker will be neutered in terms of his regional ambitions. And that, IMHO, would be a damn good thing.

    History aside, here you have a really good point. I am probably more pro-Israel than many on this site, but I am not pro-dipshit fascist warmonger.

  107. 107
    piratedan says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: i agree, I don’t think we’re that far off. I agree that BiBi is nothing but bad news and I much preferred a more liberal Israel myself. I think that Obama has his hands full with him and Bibi playing footsie with the neocons is a damn dangerous game. While Obama has handled many challenges masterfully, Keeping Israel in check is probably more challenging than any other three allies together.

  108. 108
    max says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: Name one use for crude oil, other than the internal combustion engine, for which there is no alternative.

    Plastics, fertilizers and lubricants. All pretty critical. However, if we stopped burning gasoline in IC engines (we have plenty of NG) we would be in good shape with regards to the plastics, fertilizers and lubricants.

    Additionally, to the rest of the thread, only about 7% of our oil comes from the ME. Most of that oil actually goes to Europe. Of course, if the supply is massively constricted, the world price shoots up and on and on.

    Nothing we’re doing in the Persian Gulf is making all that much difference. We’re doing it because we want the Saudis to keep pumping their reservoirs so we don’t have political problems here.

    We could stay in the Med and supply Israel and avoid all that other stuff if it wasn’t for the Saudi thing, the fear of Iran thing, the fear of a resurgent Soviet Union, and so on.

    We could pull out partially from the Middle East, we could pull way out from the ME (and still supply Israel)… we just won’t.

    max
    [‘Gosh! This are important people’s careers we’re talking about!’]

  109. 109
    GxB says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Can’t outsource installation.

    But they will do their damnedest to break their union and/or get the guys lined up outside Lowes to do it under the table.

  110. 110
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan:

    While Obama has handled many challenges masterfully, Keeping Israel in check is probably more challenging than any other three allies together.

    If (I hesitate to type “when” because I’m afraid I’ll jinx it) Obama is re-elected, I hope he’ll use this as an opportunity to take that half (or hopefully full) step back from Israel. Nobody in the international community will blame him for doing so, for sure. I feel he’ll step back more graciously and diplomatically than any other nation-state in the world would, but I have to think he’ll step back.

    That – even more than the House, the Senate or even the Supreme Court – could well be the main consequence of Obama’s re-election. I, for one, really hope it is.

  111. 111
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    I really would like one of the debate questions posed to Romney to be exactly what kind of “moral” clarity he plans to create in our foreign policy. What kind of clarity at all.

  112. 112
    piratedan says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: i get the impression that he may be the only guy who can, especially if Hilary and Bill are the ones delivering the message in sotto voice….

  113. 113
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @max:

    only about 7% of our oil comes from the ME.

    That doesn’t mean much.

    If we were to push down the price of EVs and PHEVs the rest of the world would join us in moving off of oil.

    China is pushing hard to get a lot more EVs on their roads. They’re dealing with terrible pollution problems and don’t like buying oil. Their leaders also understand climate change but are trapped behind the need to keep growing their energy supply in order to keep their economy growing.

    Europe does not love oil. Neither does Japan. If Europe, Japan, China and the US quit buying ICEVs no one would bother making ICEVs (for the most part).

  114. 114
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @GxB:

    Worker organization is a different topic.

  115. 115
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @piratedan: I imagine he’s gotten that sotto voice message already, and that’s why he’s trying to bigfoot in on this election. The problem – and the problem with all conservative hawk types – is that the fucker doesn’t hear too good. It might take him biting off more than he can chew and nobody coming in to save his ass for it to sink in – and even then he may not get it. I don’t want that any more than anyone else does – not for Bibi’s sake, for sure, but for the sake of innocent Israelis who’d take the worse of it.

  116. 116
    JustAnotherBob says:

    Just a bit more on the rare earth element/mineral topic. People get confused by the term “supply” when applied to things like minerals. Supply generally refers to the amount being extracted and made ready to use. It is not the same as “occurrence” which is a measurement of the amount and distribution on the planet.

    China has the supply because they undercut everyone else on price and other mines/refineries shut down.

    Encouraged by rising prices and political support, new mines are starting up around the world, most notably in Malaysia and in California, where a company called Molycorp has reopened what until the 1980s was the world’s flagship rare-earth mine.

    “In five years there will be rare earths produced all over the world and China will lose its edge,” said mining analyst John Kaiser, editor of Kaiser Research Online . “Molycorp is part of that equation. They’re putting back into production what was once the largest rare-earth mine in the world. And this is a good thing because it takes away power concentrated in China.”

  117. 117
    JustAnotherBob says:

    Both paragraphs should be in the blockquote – software fail.

    And I added a link – software fail.

    Does Cole think this funny?

  118. 118
    amk says:

    As long as americans keep wanting cheap gas prices while the rest of the world pays almost double their price and as long as america remains the largest oil consumer in the world, yes, the ME mess will be on.

  119. 119
    karen marie says:

    @piratedan: Not just “guilt after discovering the depths of evil regarding the Holocaust” but US complicity in it — we turned away boatloads of Jewish refugees during the war. Better “their own country” than have them come here, I think, was a large part of justification for slicing out a piece of the Middle East for “Israel.”

  120. 120
    JustAnotherBob says:

    As long as I’m piling it on….

    Carlos Ghosen, CEO of Nissan and Renault has stated that when annual EV manufacturing exceeds 500,000 units per year then the price of EVs will drop to that of ICEVs.

    How many Americans do you think would buy a 100 mile range EV as a second car if they could get something really nice for $15,000? Something that they could drive for really cheap and avoid high monthly gas bills. Keep one ICEV in the household for long trips.

    Currently the Nissan Leaf sells for just under $35k. Give people a $20k ‘cash right to the factory’ subsidy and knock the price to $15k.

    Do that for 500,000 cars a year and if would cost us $10 billion. A week and a half’s worth of oil imports.

    Keep spending that much money for a number of years but lower the dollars per individual car as manufacturing increased.

    Pay ourselves to toss our gas burners. And then start saving a friggin’ fortune on imported oil and military.

  121. 121
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Okay, Congressional roll call for the subsidy. Names?

  122. 122
    mclaren says:

    Kudos to Dr. Finel for jumping back into the shark tank here in the Balloon Juice comments section. He’s one of the few people in the foreign policy inside-the-beltway bubble arguing for a rational American foreign policy. Alas, as many have pointed out here, the incredibly poor energy density of batteries compared to refined petroleum fuels like gasoline & diesel ensure that America will remain deeply mired in the middle eastern quagmire until the well run dry in Saudi Arabia.

  123. 123
    👽 Martin says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Can you describe anyone who couldn’t do their driving with either a “100 mile range” EV or a PHEV that could go 30 or so miles on electricity and then on gas until they quit filling their tank?

    The 100 mile EV is a real problem. It usually works fine until the day you need to go more than 100 miles – then you’re boned. So in a 2 car household where the other car has a longer practical range, then yeah. But I’ve got a friend with a Leaf. His other car is a Range Rover. When his partner is out with the 3 kids they’re in the Range. His commute is about 50 miles round trip. If we want to go out in the evening, we need to keep it to places no more than about 20 miles from where he lives. In a place like SoCal – that’s not very far. That happens *all* the time. Add 100 miles and the utility of the vehicle goes up immensely. My dad had a 110 mile round trip commute for 10 years. Lots of people around here have commutes like that.

    The PHEV is a different matter. Those really are best of both worlds, but they’re still relatively expensive, as you note. Getting plug-in prices below ICEVs is going to be hard – the plug-in still has an ICE in it. It might be smaller, but the whole package is also more complex, and we can’t rely on subsidies forever.

    I think the PHEVs will get a lot closer to cost competitive when the batteries can be replaced by EDLCs. Manufacturing costs should favor them over the longer term, and they’ll outlive the life of the car, reducing that cost (our friend’s Prius battery just took a dump at 94,000 miles). The electronics are harder, and energy/weight is still well off, but there’s a lot of really promising research that should change that. That’ll also allow for rapid recharging which are the real holdback on plug-in EVs.

  124. 124
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @JustAnotherBob: And as Sonnergrunt’s accident illustrated, newer cars are also safer. Might even save some lives here.

    Sez the guy driving a mid 80’s VW.

  125. 125
    mclaren says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Sorry, but you’re spouting nonsense. The American middle class is disappearing and people can’t even afford the inexpensive internal combustion vehicles they have, much less additional pricey electric cars.

    Batteries represent by far the biggest cost in an EV, and battery technology is limited by chemistry. Batteries are not getting dramatically more efficient anytime soon, which means that $12,000 worth of batteries weighing down your EV won’t get any cheaper.

    Electric vehicles are dead on arrival.

  126. 126
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: Right, it’s oxen for us at best, right?

  127. 127
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    No.

    It is not.

    These things are all interrelated

    As long as you’ve got greedy Mammon worshiping people with any influence at all, every practical solution will run into a beancounter brick wall that dictates that short term profit for the Mammon worshipers is more important than long term prosperity (or even survival) for the vast majority.

  128. 128
    piratedan says:

    @karen marie: no argument there, same guilt was experienced by the rest of the “developed” world as well….hence the less than optimal solution of shoving the problem out of sight and out of mind circa 1948 style. Still evidence that we have a ways to go as far as being evolved and enlightened.

  129. 129
    Yutsano says:

    @karen marie: The creation of Israel was one of the last acts of British imperialism (seriously, why does no discussion of the creation of Israel mention the country who actually possessed the territory right beforehand?) and probably one of their biggest fuck-ups. Instead of making sure all the land rights issues were smoothed out they dumped off a bunch of Jews and said, “Go with God” and then sat back while they fought each other. Yet somehow the British get off totally scot-free. I never understand that.

  130. 130
    karen marie says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace: No, but it was reasonably easy to get there. The Palestinians took in refugees from Poland in large camps and were very kind and accommodating hosts.

  131. 131
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I read a report from someone who is driving a 100 mile EV. When she needs to do the occasional longer trip she just uses a ZipCar.

    Ranges will improve.

  132. 132
    👽 Martin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Well, mclaren isn’t entirely wrong here. US new auto sales are still a good 10% below 10 years ago, and more like 20% below where they ought to be per-capita. Some of that is more reliable, longer lasting cars, but just as much or more is purchasing power lost.

    And she’s right that batteries are a problem. They’re disposable, and expensive to build, and that’s not looking likely to change. Supercapacitors aren’t there yet, but they’re advancing faster than battery tech, and when they do get there, they’ll address the biggest problems with batteries – the slow charge time, and the lifespan. Supercapacitors should outlive your car because they’re not chemical and there are no moving parts. We’re already using then in some vehicle applications. Two supercapacitor hybrid Toyotas raced at LeMans. Were pretty damn fast too. There are some buses powered entirely by supercapacitors and induction chargers. Low range though. Think Disneyland tram. So electric is key, but probably without batteries.

    But she’s not right that our internal combustion cars are inexpensive. They’re actually relatively expensive. Average selling price of cars in the US is now $31K. They could easily be half that, if we would stop spending money on them as if we lived in them. A car with a 100,000 mile lifespan, driven at an average 45MPH, means you spend about 2,500 hours in your car. At $31K, that’s about $12.50 an hour – and gas, maintenance, insurance adds another $7/hr. For $20/hr, it’s a really shitty deal for anyone driving alone. We need to change the culture around cars and drive the price down, and we need to get people to recognize the true out-of-pocket cost of the car and consider mass transit instead (and voting to build mass transit).

  133. 133
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Yutsano: Good story. But you left out parts. For instance, it starts “Brave Empire, exhausted by a war to save the world from tyanny”. Insert “unappreciated” somewhere.

  134. 134
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @mclaren:

    Sorry, but you’re spouting nonsense.

    Thank you. I always appreciate it when someone gives me my come-upins.

    —-

    Apparently you did jumped in at the end. I dealt with the route to affordable battery/EV prices in #120.

    —-

    We’ll get better, cheaper batteries. Here’s one company I’m following…

    Envia

    Less than half the half cost of other EV batteries. $150 per kilowatt vs. $400 per kilowatt (apparent current cost, your $12k is based on $500/kW).

    Over three times the energy storage. 400 watt-hours per kilogram vs. 120 watt-hours per kilogram. This goal is already met and indepently confirmed.

    Currently more than 450 cycles with <25% capacity loss. 1,000 cycles expected with development.

    Verified in testing of prototype cells at the Naval Service Warfare Center’s Crane evaluation division.

    Recently entered into contract with GM. Envia has no plans to manufacture themselves, but to license out to existing battery plants which would greatly speed time to market.

  135. 135
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    1) Return control of Congress to Democrats.

  136. 136
    👽 Martin says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    When she needs to do the occasional longer trip she just uses a ZipCar.

    Heh. The ZipCars at work are Leafs.

  137. 137
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Some of that is more reliable, longer lasting cars, but just as much or more is purchasing power lost.

    If a working person was driving on $25 worth of electricity rather than $160 worth of gasoline a month they’d be in better position to make car payments.

    There are additional savings with EVs – oil/filter changes, half the number of brake rebuilds, not as much stuff to service and repair.

  138. 138
    Yutsano says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace: The comprehensive story is a doctoral dissertation and even then not all of the facts are clear. Palestine however was a British protectorate at the foundation of Israel (and yes the Jews pushed to get independence fast but the British had zero issue just letting it happen) and the British just pretty much walked away even knowing as soon as they left the Arabs would attack. And the British didn’t really settle anything up to and including the role of Transjordan in Israel’s creation. Yet France and the US take the major heat for anything Israel.

  139. 139
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @👽 Martin:

    The Pony Express Lives!!!

  140. 140
    karen marie says:

    I have to say, it’s way more fun laughing at Mitt Romney than arguing about oil and electric cars and a withdrawal from the Middle East that is never going to happen.

  141. 141
    Cacti says:

    “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.”

    -Thomas Jefferson

  142. 142
    AHH onna Droid says:

    @piratedan: so what, after the iran iraq war nobody messes with the Persians any more, even if they talk shit about not being Arabs, rather being Aryans, and their real religion is Zoroastrianism because Islam was imposed by the sword. Even Ahmedinejad, the conservative figurehead of an Islamist state must avoid the appearance of being too ‘arabist’, the Koran itself being viewed as an expression and instrument of Arab chauvinism.

  143. 143
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @👽 Martin:

    For $20/hr, it’s a really shitty deal for anyone driving alone. We need to change the culture around cars and drive the price down

    Well, if you really believe that then you’re going to have to look at cleaning house at the USDOT, because they have been pushing “bigger is better (for safety)” as long as I have been alive. (Of course, so much for pedestrians.) This is as true for cars as it is for transit. Part of the reason light rail projects cost so much in the US are the ridiculous weight rules that are a condition of FTA funding. (Note: few states/cities want to cough up the funding, ESPECIALLY when road projects or bus purchases are a big old grant with a small local match. Exceptions: NOLA and SF both have single operating lines with “underweight” cars that they bought on their own dime. SF’s are rehabbed vintage vehicles, NOLAs are repro’s. I haven’t heard yet of the great massacre of transit patrons due to these “underweight” cars. Boston also has an existing legacy line with “underweight” aluminum-body wartime PCC cars, the Mattapan-Ashmont line, and Tampa runs wooden-body TECO-trolleys for the tourists to Ybor City. Again, who has been hurt so far? But the FTA did buy those dinky 25′ electric buses they operate in the tourist area of Chattanooga. I’d rather be in a PCC car in a crash than that thing.)

    When they brought the SMART and Mini over to the US the DOT was caught making statements about how inappropriate they were on the highway even though they pass all US and European safety standards.

    Look. People. Stay awake when you’re driving. If you can’t, pull over. I live near a section of interstate that I’m told is one of the deadliest anywhere. Guess what, some guy in an SUV killed himself after falling asleep at the wheel and plowing into the back of a tractor-trailer.

    We can put smaller, cheaper cars on the road and smaller, cheaper transit vehicles, but this dilettante-engineer’s attitude that it all comes down to “F=ma” has to go.

    One more F=ma anecdote. We can all agree a moving freight train has more “m” and more “mv” (first derivative of “ma”) than a loaded tractor-trailer stalled on the tracks.

    So the fuck what.

    For decades locomotive engineers in certain GE locos were killed because of the way the cab would deform in a collision, crushing the engineer’s skull. It’s not unheard of for desperate train crew to just jump off.

    Today, GE sells engines with a crumple zone that will lead to far less railroading fatalities.

    Human survival in a vehicular crash does NOT come down to a simple mass versus mass equation!

  144. 144
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @mclaren:

    Alas, as many have pointed out here, the incredibly poor energy density of batteries compared to refined petroleum fuels like gasoline & diesel

    Alas, Mclaren is back to make those of us with physics degrees look like gibbering morans. Thanks, sis, I really need the boost.

    You must pump energy density into the function next to EFFICIENCY. And this is where fossil fuels fall down and fail all over the place. What’s the efficiency of a non-hybrid engine? 40%? But you can convert chemical to electric with less than 5% heat loss.

    My SWAG is that the future is a distributed, sustainable grid with battery farms at substations to smooth out the loads, and fossil fuels will play a minority but no less valuable part in energy production. I hope it’s a future without broad expansion into nuclear as we know it. The time is coming where we will no longer be able to afford to drink black gold by the gallon and we’d better darn well have a plan B.

  145. 145
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I don’t even think that energy density is a relevant metric unless we’re comparing fossil fuels to biomass in terms of having to transport them from source to power plant.

    I mean, what’s the energy density of solar? Oh-ho, there’s the rub, eh? Photons have no mass, and the energy of a photon is determined by its frequency.

  146. 146
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Let’s take it to cars.

    ICEVs, in general, loose about 80% of the energy in gas, using only ~20% to push the car down the road.

    EVs use ~90% for motion, loose only ~10%.

    There’s a lot of energy in gasoline, but we waste most of it.

    Additionally, oil is the root cause of many of our international political problems and the main cause of our national security problems.

    Think forward to 2022.

    Version 1.

    Oil supplies are lower after ten more years of use, the number of cars worldwide is significantly higher. Demand is exceeding supply.

    Profits for oil-producing countries is significantly higher and the cash drain from other countries is greater.

    Fuel prices have risen much faster than inflation and dragged the cost of other goods and services up with it adding to the rate of inflation.

    Version 2.

    We’ve put some concerted effort into getting a decent percentage of our driving done with electricity. Oil sales have stalled, perhaps fallen some.

    Economies of previous large-purchasing countries are enjoying better balance of trade ratios and citizens have more money in their pockets.

    The political power of oil-producing states is diminished.

  147. 147
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Yutsano:
    The British were the colonial power in Palestine. So they figured it was theirs to dispose of, not the Palestinians’ who’d been living there since time immemorial. That’s the neat thing about imperialism: you conquer other people’s countries and then you get to act like their landlord.

  148. 148
  149. 149

    Damn, missed a good thread.

    Just to add a straggling link to anyone still reading who might like an article from earlier this week from ars technica. A good summary of the true potential for wind power generation.

    The problems with converting to renewables are not engineering problems. They are financial and cultural problems.

  150. 150
    JustAnotherBob says:

    I haven’t engaged over the Israeli/Palestine issue because I don’t have any solutions. I’m totally disgusted with both sides. A tiny portion of the world has kept things dangerous for over a half-century. They’ve no right to keep their problems unsolved for this long.

    I think we’re stuck there for another 20-40 years, until modern communications bring us enough new “world citizens” to allow these local issues to fade away.

    The old religious crap that has lead to so many of our wars is diminishing, in the future people are likely to be far less fundamental in their beliefs as religion fades away. The older ’67 war generation will die off. National boarders will be lesser issues.

    We’re stuck, I’m afraid, with having to wait them out….

  151. 151
    bt says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Love your summary. I also think that the only answer for the ME is just time.

    Time for Israel to become a liberal, multi-ethnic state (the only outcome possible at this point), and time for the Arab states to modernize intellectually, in whatever fashion that fits them.

    Ironically a modern, liberal, multi-ethnic Israel might actually set a decent example for the region. They just need to be careful, and look at the example of South Africa – who waited too long to integrate the natives into their modern state, and then had it forced onto them.

  152. 152
    JustAnotherBob says:

    I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Israel to become a liberal, multi-ethnic state. Rather a multi-religion state, they already have something of an ethnic/national-origin mix.

    Israel is trapped in a fortress and until the siege subsides they are not likely to mellow out. I don’t like that, but I understand it.

    The more likely long term outcome, IMHO, is that the rest of the region will get caught up in their own lives and pretty much forget that Israel exists. The formation of Israel and the ’67 War will be something that happened in their grandfather’s youth. (We might have to wait until great grandfather’s youth-time.)

    “Israel? What does that have to do with us?”

    In the meantime we will have to use our power and influence to damp down both the Israelis and Palestinians from time to time when their “stuff” gets too heated up.

  153. 153
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    “Right, so it’s oxen for us at best?”

    The fallacy of the excluded middle. Guys like Omnes Omnibus take a look an out-of-control car culture where whole communities have no sidewalks and no way to get into the inner city from the exurbs except gas-wasting freeways, and say, “Well, there’s this or we ride oxen.”

    No, there’s a middle ground. You can redesign your cities to avoid requiring huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge commutes of 45 miles each way. You can add light electric rail powered by nuclear reactors to replace most of the traffic. You can set up moped-only narrowways instead of giant 15-lane freeways. In short, you can get rid of the car culture.

    The idea that we must either roar around for 45 miles each way to work and back in gigantic incredibly wasteful huge single-passenger cars, or trot around on the backs of oxen, is typical of the far-right crackpots who’ve poisoned public policy debate in America. “Either we have 3 strikes laws or we disband the police departments!” “Either we abolish welfare and medicare and social security, or we disintegrate into an entitlement society where no one has to work at all!” “Either we invade Iran and Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Oman and Kuwait and Egypt, or we let the terrorists win!”

    No, crackpot, there’s a middle ground in between the two extremes.

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