Part 4P. Proxy wars for fur and fossil fuels: Obsessions for resources are the cause and effect of mental, spiritual, physical, economic, and environmental imbalance

False Bias #16. Oil Is a Vital Resource, and US Policymakers Are Smart and Psychologically Balanced in Their Pursuit of Fossil Fuels. The night of February 8, 1690, some 200 French troops with their Native American allies—primarily Sault Chippewa and Algonquins, attacked the settlement of Schenectady, New York. The inhabitants—largely Dutch, English, German, and Norwegian as well as African slaves and some Mohawk Iroquois—were caught asleep in their beds where they were mercilessly slaughtered. Babies were thrown into the fires. Children had their brains dashed out against the walls. One woman, my eighth-great-grandmother, was scalped and killed. Her husband was also killed, leaving the children, like the other survivors, traumatized for life. After two hours, 60 had been slaughtered. Nearly the entire settlement was put to the torch. Of the roughly 60 still alive, half were taken prisoner to Canada while others died from exposure in the frozen cold. Some managed to flee to Albany.[1] 

These attacks upon settlers and their Native American allies in the Northeast might be considered the outcome of a combination of defensive anger against invading trespassers, anger over loss of land and hunting grounds, and fear of strangers, as well as possibly aggressive motivations. But there was more to it than that. The attack on Schenectady was revenge for a much larger, unusually vicious attack by 1,500 of the British-allied Iroquois six months earlier upon a French settlement, Lachine, now Montreal, an attack even more barbaric, gruesome, and cannibalistic than the attack on Schenectady. The Iroquois, who called themselves the Haudenosaunee, were themselves seeking revenge, and they were angered that they didn’t have a greater part in the fur trade. Reportedly, the Haudenosaunee were encouraged to attack the French by the British, who, like the French, were waging a proxy war in the New World.

In fact, an enormous factor driving New World tension and violence were the behaviors and goals of European leaders. The Dutch, English, and other settlers of the Northeast, the French settlers in Canada, and the Iroquoian and Algonquian-speaking Native Americans allied on either side were all pawns, pushed against one another as vicious enemies in the Great Game between Britain and France, who were vying for territory and control of the fur trade during the Imperial Wars in North America from 1689 through 1753.

The Great Game now is fossil fuels.[2] But the Great Game then was the fur trade, which resulted in the depletion of fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver. From the 1600s into the 1800s, France, England, the Netherlands, Russia, and to a lesser extent Spain, all sought “to fulfill the furious demand for furs in Europe, especially beaver pelts for hatmaking.” This Great Game also resulted in severe intertribal conflicts and the escalation of hostility among the Native American tribes as well as the loss of a traditional sense of balance and respect for the environment.[3]

Certainly, as with most conflicts, a variety of people and conditions factored into violence. The Iroquois had already been attacking neighboring tribes. Moreover, Native Americans were willing participants in this trade of killing animals for money as they gained guns from the Dutch, English, and French for their furs. Europeans who couldn’t care less about animals wanted to wear fur. Therefore, as with most conflicts, many people from many regions and positions bear responsibility for the events that unfolded, not merely European leaders. However, Europe’s Imperial Wars, the fur trade, and the gun trade all escalated violence in North America enormously, both in terms of the quantity and severity of violence. In fact, both massacres took place during King William’s War, a war between Britain and France primarily fought as a proxy war in New England and New France.

Then as now, the violent results stemming from this economic competition—the horrific results upon the environment, humans, and other species of life—weren’t considered reason enough to give up the competition and the trade. Then as now, the traumatizing effects of war, death, and gruesome atrocities upon generations and generations of people, the scars of hell that are handed down to the next generation and the next, that physically impoverish societies, that spiritually destroy their relation to the environment and other species of life, and that psychologically devastate each community’s, each family’s capacity for positive human relations and feelings of love, trust, and peace-of-mind, weren’t considered to be reason to refrain from provoking war, sending weapons, pushing trade, and shunning opportunities for non-violent conflict resolution.

One would think, more than 300 years later, that world leaders would have the social and legal evolution to be able to handle the distribution of resources fairly and to be able to develop a sense of caring stewardship of the environment. One would think, more than 300 years later, that world leaders would be above using other nations’ people and environment to access the natural resources and markets they covet.

One would think that world leaders would be above taking advantage of the animosities and distrust abroad, worsening those animosities, arming one side to employ it to one’s own advantage, and waging proxy war for one’s own financial and political benefit. And one would think the factions within nations who oppose one another would be wise enough to earnestly strive for non-violent reconciliation with one another rather than seek arms from external allies, who have their own ulterior economic and political motives for arming puppet forces.

Unfortunately, rather than any development of the political process to ensure that responsible, caring, intelligent, and evolved leaders are in positions of power, rather than any development of the art of cooperative dialogue, cooperative negotiation, and non-violent conflict resolution, what has developed instead is the technology and killing power of weapons to a ghastly degree, the unnatural addiction of the economy to fossil fuels, and the power and persuasion of the mass media in promoting a one-sided, false view of conflict that in turn “justifies” the use of earth-shattering weapons and gruesome war against enemies deemed savage and against an environment ignored as inconsequential.

And so, with leadership having learned nothing about non-violently mitigating the root causes of conflict, the atrocities of February 8, 1690 continue on and on, with human beings seemingly helpless to prevent the continuation of such atrocities as the powers-that-be, always so far removed themselves from the burning settlements, scalped civilians, and horrified families, sit safely behind their office desks with their abstract convictions of good vs. evil, pining for more resources, control, and status as they direct our tax dollars towards the deployment of troops, the shipment of weapons, and the military training of one side against another to secure their prize.

In the 1600s and 1700s, France and Britain were coveting the fur in North America off the backs of beavers whose natural right it was to have their fur and their lives, and they were coveting this fur at the price of human lives sacrificed in battles and massacres, as vengeful action followed vengeful action. Today, power over Ukraine and Georgia, positioned within the pipeline grid and in proximity to the Black and Caspian Seas, is coveted by US policymakers.

In the last few essays, we’ve been talking about how US policymaker interests in Georgia as a conduit for pipelines running from Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea to Turkey has been a major factor governing US policy towards Georgia. When Russia came to the aid of South Ossetians in 2008 to fight against invading Georgian forces, the US media painted a false fairytale picture of good, freedom-loving Georgians vs. evil Russians “spoiling for a fight.”

Yet conniving US foreign policy and media makers conveniently downplayed conniving US policymaker pipeline interests in Georgia and omitted conniving relevant US policymaker moves, including the reported support for the 2003 Georgia coup and installation of a pro-NATO leader who cut off fossil fuel deals with Russia in favor of deals with the US. Yes, multiple factors are always involved in conflict. But the theme of superpower striving for more wealth and power and superpower arming of the natives is, once again, a theme driving conflict and heightening the tensions that already exist in Georgia, as well as Ukraine.

Aside from being conniving and dishonest, US policy and media makers’ behaviors are repulsive on yet another level, in much the same way the fur trade was repulsive: in both cases, those seeking wealth are trampling the lives of human and non-human species of life and, in the case of fossil fuels, they’re destroying the rock, water, and air of the earth. The idea of constructing yet more pipelines and seeking to acquire yet more fossil fuels is absurd given the situation of the past several decades characterized by the ill effects on life and health of habitat destruction, air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, and climate change. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 1984 by a bipartisan group of legislators, “in 2019, fossil fuels accounted for 74 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

Some argue that climate change isn’t being caused by fossil fuels and that the industry should be supported. For example, the New York Times reports on various Republican state treasurers who are actually working to protect the fossil fuel industry, such as by taking the discriminatory, undemocratic step of barring from state contracts several major banks that are reducing their investments in coal.[4]

In truth, there’s a lot of data backing the connections between fossil fuels and climate change. However, to save time in discussion, even if you leave climate change, extreme weather, and sea level rise from melting glaciers out of the argument and ignore all the supporting facts linking them to fossil fuels, fossil fuels are dangerous and repulsive on grounds of pollution and habitat destruction alone. They’re bad news. Our own noses should have been able to tell us this a century ago if we’d recognized that the nose warns us of substances that are bad for our health to inhale.

But, even if we ignore the instincts of the nose, we also have science. According to a 2021 fact sheet written by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute:

“Air pollution from burning fossil fuels can cause multiple health issues, including asthma, cancer, heart disease, and premature death. Combusting the additives found in gasoline—benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene—produces cancer-causing ultra-fine particles and aromatic hydrocarbons. Globally, fossil fuel pollution is responsible for one in five deaths. In the United States, 350,000 premature deaths in 2018 were attributed to fossil fuel-related pollution, with the highest number of deaths per capita in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. The annual cost of the health impacts of fossil fuel-generated electricity in the United States is estimated to be up to $886.5 billion. The environmental and health impacts of fossil fuels disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. . . . In a predominantly Black and low-income area of Louisiana known as “Cancer Alley,” the cancer risk is nearly 50 times higher than the national average due to 150 nearby chemical plants and oil refineries.”[5]

Did you hear that? One in five deaths? I’m not sure whether these shocking figures are confirmed elsewhere, but even if the figures were somehow exaggerated tenfold, the figure would be one in fifty deaths: still unacceptable! Those troops fighting for our “right” to fossil fuels and affordable oil, those weapons that US Presidents export right and left to protect US businesses’ access to pipelines in Georgia, Ukraine, and beyond, they’re indirectly killing one in five people on the planet through pollution, not including the deaths from the wars and coups themselves!

Incidentally, the effects described above on the poorer sections of the population are similar to the effects of military bases and radioactive sites on the poorer populations, particularly of the South.[6] It’s like slavery has been replaced by death from fossil fuels and radioactivity. And notice that the passage above illustrates some of the health effects of only the air pollution from fossil fuels. It doesn’t include effects of water pollution, ocean acidification, acid rain, plastic pollution, and oil spills, as well as the arsenic, lead, chlorine, and mercury that contaminate water from fracking to produce the liquefied natural gas that Louisiana and Texas are sending to Europe.

The passage also doesn’t include the major and minor effects on our bodies and neurological systems from the petrochemicals that Rockefeller’s industry has managed to infiltrate into nearly every aspect of our lives, whether we like it or not. It’s enough to give plenty of people concerns about plastic-tasting food from certain plastic packaging, headaches and nausea from smelly car interiors, and feverish sweats from the petrochemical-imbued clothing and bed mattresses that make you feel like your body has plunged into a state of thermal dysregulation and shock—probably a lot like those sea mammals feel when their fur becomes caked in an oil spill. Who knows how deep the damage goes to our health beyond what is apparent. And, thanks to that good old rugged American spirit of individuality and competition, all the companies use the same materials and petrochemicals! You can buy a hundred different colors and styles of shirts, but, unless you’re able to access and afford organic products, you’re going to be stuck with the same plastic material clinging feverishly to your body.

The US government has reiterated that one of its primary national security goals is to ensure that oil consumers have fluid access to oil. Certainly, oil is an important part of the economy.[7] Natural gas is even used in the production of fertilizer, which, thanks to the technology-oriented Green Revolution first promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico, has become depended upon as an essential crutch for food production.[8] Economic disasters related to a lack of fossil fuels could lead to a lack of food, heat, or shelter which could lead to death. Since oil seems connected with life, perhaps it becomes necessary and justified in some policymakers’ minds to kill some people in order to save other people’s lives.

But the truth is: oil is not necessary for life. If it were necessary for life, living things wouldn’t have existed for a few billion years without using oil. Sure, thanks to the petroleum industry’s determination to get petroleum and petrochemicals into every aspect of our lives, many people have become accustomed to lives that rely upon oil and many leaders have become addicted to fossil fuel dependency. But what’s done can be undone.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: The Politics of Oil, written in 2003, speaks of upcoming battle sites in the oil-rich Caspian Sea and South China Sea. The Caspian Sea region “has the potential for wars and disruptions that could make the Persian Gulf look tame.” After all, if policymakers persist in wanting to get oil out of the region, they’re going to have to continue to develop, maintain, and protect pipelines through the nations surrounding the Caspian Sea.

Then, over in the South China Sea, oil and natural gas are hidden in potentially enormous reserves under the Spratly Islands. The Complete Idiot’s Guide warns in 2003: “This region could explode more easily than the Caspian region. . . . Several computer scenarios run by research institutes like the Rand Corporation have ended with World War III breaking out over the Spratlys.” Already, “rival navies and nations trade both verbal and artillery shots over the Spratly outcroppings.”[9]

This is all just swell. The attitude is that these wars are up and coming, and we’re going to have to face them. Well, when I read these passages about “future oil battles,” everything in me, every natural instinct, says, “Don’t go there. Leave the oil alone. Stay out! Keep off the grass!” If it’s already predictable where the future battles are going to be, doesn’t it make sense to stay away? Can’t we use these predictions to our advantage by avoiding these battles and by helping other nations to avoid them?

Apparently, not. It’s as if Nancy Pelosi read about this WWWII potential and deliberately flew to Taiwan to light a match. Unbelievably, US policymakers are insisting on strutting their stuff and showing the world who’s boss, especially in parts of the world far removed from US borders. It’s as if we’re watching a horror movie unfold, we can’t stop it, and it turns out to be real life. Don’t forget, the neoconservative Project for the New American Century—alive and kicking in the political establishment—assured us in 2000 that the “worldwide archipelago of US military installations” of America’s bases and troops abroad “are the cavalry on the new American frontier.”[10] In US policymakers’ minds, US borders have crept thousands of miles north, south, east, and west of the borders politely drawn on conventional maps.

To US policymakers, backing away from war is not a sign of wisdom, non-aggression, and cooperative behavior but an indicator of weakness, appeasement, and low status. To them, a confident US is one which is swaggering and continually expanding the borders of its influence and power. Wiser minds would call this aggression. In fact, the Spratly Islands are disputed territory, with rival claims by both China and Taiwan. So a little skirmish over Nancy Pelosi’s provoking visit to Taiwan would be just the excuse to get US war ships over there to set their long-awaited WWIII in motion.

Oil is considered a strategic resource. I suggest making it a non-strategic resource. The US should have started a long time ago investing, not in the revitalization of its nuclear arsenal, but in the switching to alternative energies, alternatively-operated cars, and products made without petrochemicals. But no, instead they’re making more things out of plastic than ever and they’re requiring more things to be plugged into an energy source. We used to use books and paper at school. Now computers are pushed to an extreme, despite the usage of fossil fuels, the expense to tax payers, the effects of computer screens on learning, and the deleterious effect of LED lights on the eyes and pineal gland.[11] Even exercise bikes are now plugged in, as if electricity were essential to exercise. Ironically, people pedaling on a group of exercise bikes could conceivably help manually power a generator. But, in the effort to promote the fossil fuel and Silicon Valley industries, everything’s going the wrong way!

Claiming that oil is essential and US policymakers must beat the rest in the Great Game and we have to keep wearing plastic shirts and ingesting petrochemical additives is like lamely claiming that the American mind is sunk and there are no more Thomas Edisons and George Washington Carvers alive who can create other scientific possibilities, no more Jane Addams who can create other social possibilities. Despite the stifling effect of the US educational and economic systems, these types of people surely exist—their brains and spirits are simply bottled up, never allowed to achieve their potential.

To be clear: nothing is vital unless its absence kills. Oil is not a vital resource. It is a fatal resource. It is vital to stop pursuing oil and stop milking other nations to death for their oil. If only US policymakers put as much effort and resources into developing alternatives to fossil fuels and petrochemicals as they put into launching the coups and wars to maintain their grip on fossil fuels that kill one in five of us. The wars themselves require huge amounts of petroleum. As Neta Crawford of Brown University’s Costs of War Project states, “‘the DOD [Department of Defense] is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest institutional producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.’”[12] So US policymakers are fighting to control fossil fuels so they have fossil fuels to power their military to fight for fossil fuels.

The US government, as a democracy, is supposed to be representing us and our needs far above and beyond the narrow-minded needs of the Department of Defense, the fossil fuel industry, and the weapon industry. I would think most Americans would prefer alternative sources of energy, including a return to more use of muscle power, alternative forms of transportation, including bicycles, pedal cars, and corresponding non-fossil-fuel transportation routes, and alternatives to petrochemicals, like some of George Washington Carver’s sweet potato and peanut inventions that were left in the dust by the mission of making oil indispensable. Why choose the destruction of habitat and planet and greatly increased risk of WWIII just to get access to more smelly fossil fuels, headache-producing plastics, and an unhealthy way of life?

Even if fossil fuel extraction, refinement, transportation, and usage miraculously emitted not a single pollutant, caused not a single case of cancer or heart disease, and led to absolutely no habitat destruction, the pursuit of fossil fuels and access to pipelines should not become so obsessive and extreme as to warrant aggressive US foreign policy behaviors that threaten and highly provoke Russia, Iran, and China, especially when Russia, Iran, and China are located quite close to the fossil fuel territory under conflict and the US is located across the ocean half-a-world away. It’s only common sense and justice. It’d be like Martians coming and demanding we give them our ocean water for their own planetary survival and well-being.

Think of it on a neighborhood level. Each family wants to secure access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, water, electricity, and phone service. But these needs and desires would never justify one family robbing from another in order to secure its own needs. Such behavior would be selfish and immoral! How dare one family think it’s more important than all the rest! Furthermore, how dare one family risk neighborhood violence for the sake of fulfilling its own needs! The wish to satisfy needs and desires is never an excuse for killing or stealing!

The same attitude of consideration and justice, which seems like common sense and decency in a neighborhood, absolutely must be upheld internationally and become considered as common sense and decency with regard to international relations. Yes, each nation is trying to access food, water, shelter, fuel for energy, and income, but such needs never justify one nation’s stepping on the needs of others, including the needs for life, freedom, wealth, and respect. In the case of the Caspian Sea, US intense interest in the area is absurd! It only makes sense that Russia should have more control than the US over Caspian Sea oil. Russia borders the Caspian Sea! The same goes for oil in the South China Sea. Why should US policymakers have more control over that area than China? It doesn’t make sense.

We all know that US policymakers would be up-in-arms if Russia started drilling for oil off the coasts of Alaska and Texas or began building pipelines so that Alaskan and Texan oil could bypass the rest of the US and travel straight to Russia! Why is the Golden Rule—treat others as you’d want to be treated yourself, which is a principle of justice recognized worldwide in many ethical and religious systems, so hard for US policymakers to follow?

Do US policymakers think we admire them for holding themselves above the Golden Rule? Do they think we’ll be thanking them for so desperately trying to assert their rights to foreign oil and pipelines as we’re fried either by nuclear bombs, forest fires, or deadly solar heat? Perhaps they think phrases like these will be our dying words:

“We die, but in peace and pride, hope and freedom, for at least the Stars and Stripes kept trying to get that oil and those pipelines and those markets! We’d sacrifice our lives, the lives of our children, and all species of life on the planet 100 times over if it would help them get that black, tarry stuff out of the ground and out of the clutches of Russia, Iran, and China who don’t even belong on this planet!

“We’ll forever thank Nancy Pelosi for provoking China, because Taiwan belongs to us and so does the black, tarry stuff in the South China Sea around the Spratly Islands. China should never have kept Western fossil fuel companies from developing those islands! They may say it’s disputed territory,[13]  but we know that land belongs to Taiwan and those who manage to survive are going to prove it so that US CEOs and a shiny new military base can get in there and drill and construct and totally degrade the environment, just as they did to Hawaii and South Korea’s Jeju Island!

“We adore Grandfather Biden for arming Ukraine, because we want our US companies to access the fossil fuels of the Black Sea, fulfill Rockefeller’s dream and kick Russia out of Europe’s energy market, and gain more profit from those Europeans who manage to survive the winter. Russia has no right to those markets! We do! Our continent used to be connected to Europe, back before all that continental drift stuff! And once those fossil fuels are guzzling out of the Black Sea in high enough amounts, you’ll not see another jellyfish swimming in that sea again, let alone a vacationer relaxing on the beach. Those who are still alive will make that water as oily as Baku’s.

“And we are in reverent awe of the new bill introduced into our Senate to beef up the US military presence in the Arctic and eradicate Russia’s monopoly on Arctic shipping, because, by golly, that Arctic fossil fuel belongs to US CEOs as do the trade routes up there that will be melting away with the rest of Greenland![14] After all, Russia may wrap around half the Arctic Circle, but that’s meaningless. It certainly doesn’t give Russia the right to dominate things up there! The US owns Alaska, which is easily ten or maybe one hundred times as big as Russia!

“US CEOs deserve to be Number One in the worldwide fossil fuel market because only US CEOs have what it takes to ensure that the clothing of those who survive is infused with petrochemicals and that one in five people continue to die from fossil fuels! Plus, we’re the nation that gives off the most greenhouse gases, so we deserve to own any water routes that melt because of it! We did the work, we reap the rewards!

“Don’t forget, if we get more US troops up in the Arctic, we’ll further pollute the atmosphere, augment the melting of the Arctic Ocean, send polar bears and other inferior species of life to their much-deserved extinction, and pave the way for trade and war with Russia!

“Wars, as many as possible, are what we need to bring this nation to life, to give us unity, to snap us out of apathy and give us a sense of purpose and pride, to discard the selfishness and pettiness of our younger generations and help them develop a patriotic willingness to sacrifice our lives and the lives of everyone on Earth!

“And don’t forget the Second Coming! There will be Heaven on Earth after this Holy War, you can bet on that! We may all seem to die from the bombs and infernal heat, but it’s only temporary! Greater glory awaits beyond the grave! So let’s get WWWIII turned on high so we can all quit our jobs, witness nuclear war, and live in peace with the deities, who we believe and hope are made in man’s image and not the polar bear’s.

“We embrace our deaths—from war, forest fire, radiation poisoning, starvation, manufactured microbes in biolabs, and lung disease combined—because we die as a consequence of a great cause in service to our brothers and sisters in the fossil fuel and weapon industries, who make us hated around the world and who give us the American way of life to bring on early death! We embrace our deaths because our deaths are a consequence of our leaders’ stepping on everyone else and showing them who’s king of the hill! And that matters more to us than life itself. That’s what freedom’s all about.”

Perhaps US policymakers, duped by decades of their own propaganda, truly feel morally superior and therefore justified in ignoring the Golden Rule and justified in winning the new Great Game to access as much of the Earth’s remaining fossil fuels as possible. As throughout the official Cold War, which US policymakers have never actually ended, personal greed and avarice are cloaked with showy, stupid talk of morality, freedom, and humanity. This muddling of greed with morality may likely exist in the minds of US policy and media makers themselves, who justify their actions of greed with the comforting thought that they’re the so-called “good guys” gaining wealth at the expense of the so-called “bad guys” and so the entire world is benefitting somehow. And, they may say, if anyone doesn’t plainly see that Americans are the good guys and Russians are the bad guys, then just go watch TV re-runs from the 1970s or 80s, where the good guys outfox the Russians. It should be obvious to everyone.

In addition to being influenced by slanted fictional and non-fictional TV shows, US foreign policymakers’ competitive view of the world—another Mental Escalator of Violence discussed in the essay Part 4B and related to what George Lakoff describes as the Strict Father Model of human relations—also goads them to ignore the Golden Rule of considerate behavior, to win at all costs, and to be incapable of handling rivalry maturely. They’re so bent on accessing fossil fuels and getting better deals in their rivalry with other companies and with other nations, particularly Russia, that they don’t see the obvious disastrous consequences towards which they’re headed with their obsessive drive for fossil fuel profits.

It’s not unlike how Rockefeller, Morgan, and other wealthy men competed against one another in a great rivalry for railroad ownership. Meanwhile, their blinders were on to the devastation their railroad rivalry was causing across the Plains and the West, as bison, Native Americans, and many other species lost their lives and way of life. Or, to take another example, when Nazi Germany was about to annex Austria, German bankers were set on beating each other to be first to take over Jewish-owned banks in Austria. The banks were not so much anti-Semitic as engrossed in rivalry.[15]

The essential problem is that people get so caught up, not only in profit, but in the rivalry—the rivalry amongst corporations, between presidential administrations, between nations. They become obsessively preoccupied with winning the rivalry, with achieving the status gained from their peers from winning the rivalry, and with avoiding the shame they feel from losing a rivalry, from being judged an incompetent investor, a weak CEO, a soft president—that they forget about the bigger picture, they forget to judge themselves based upon higher principles.

They don’t see the suffering and grief of the beaver population stripped of its fur and families, and they don’t see the settlers stripped of their scalps and families. Instead of caring about those against whom they compete, instead of caring for the people, bison, and beavers trampled by the competition, competitive policymakers remain shackled by the false values within their insulated social and business circles that aspire to shallow forms of cleverness, insipid forms of strength, and meager forms of wealth. The heart is Missing in Action.

Also influential to this flip attitude towards the Golden Rule is what Gordon Allport described as the Prejudiced Personality, a type of personality described in the earlier essay Part 4B in which certain persistent psychological patterns of thought skew the mental processes to see reality in a distorted way. Such a personality prevents US policymakers and repeated US administrations from being capable of rationally evaluating information and forming conclusions based upon a comprehensive review of the facts from a variety of perspectives. One obvious characteristic of Allport’s Prejudiced Personality is prejudice, such as the blatant anti-Russian and anti-Putin prejudice we see exhibited today. When your eyes are filled with prejudice, it’s easy to see that the US deserves to be on top of the fossil fuel game and Russia doesn’t.

Another characteristic is blame-flipping: refusing to see oneself at fault, and seeing the fault as residing outside oneself. Such behavior is loudly on display when US policymakers inaccurately condemn Russia for an “unprovoked” invasion yet fail to take any responsibility and blame for provoking Russia in significant ways: with the 2003 US-supported coup in Georgia, the militarization of Georgia, NATO cooperation with Georgia, the 2014 US-supported coup in Ukraine, the billions of dollars of weapon shipments to support a proxy war in Ukraine since 2014, and the further lethal expansion of NATO—of its territory, its mission, and its self-righteous sense of “legal” authority. A “faultless” US obviously deserves to win the Great Game and should not be hindered by any thought of a Golden Rule, of mutually considerate and caring behavior.

A related characteristic of the Prejudiced Personality is black-and-white thinking: an immature stage in psychological development that always perceives one side of conflict as all good and the other as all bad. This mental habit is also called dichotomization, and it’s a false division between the “good guys,” the in-group, and the “bad guys,” the out-group. It’s this type of prejudiced thinking that causes people, such as US policy and media makers, to automatically and erroneously assume US military actions are noble and brave, while Russian military actions are sinister and belligerent, US acquisition of fossil fuels is wonderful, while Russian acquisition is sinister.[16] And take note of this: when combined with the self-serving competitive drive, black-and-white thinking serves as a convenient yet fraudulent cover of morality. With such a mindset, it’s simply immoral to observe a Golden Rule. After all, the adversary is evil!

Of interest, this self-serving, self-deceptive attitude is not unlike that of John D. Rockefeller himself, who, as the son of a religious mother and swindling father, always saw himself as virtuous and his competitors as vicious scoundrels. He even perceived Standard Oil as a savior of sorts, “rescuing” other companies like boats who would’ve sunk without him, ignoring the fact that he was the one who’d pierced their hulls with his ruthless efforts to destroy all competition.[17]

And for a century, we see a parallel hypocritical pattern of US thinking that, like Rockefeller, interprets its own behaviors in the best light and Russian/Soviet behaviors in the worst light. The US government was also the product of one religious parent and one swindling parent, of forces of self-centered religious convictions and self-centered greed, who together conceived Manifest Destiny and the allegedly divine fate of the US to expand, apparently, forever. Like Rockefeller, the US government has gone about foreign policy with self-righteousness, with the deceitful proclamation and possibly the self-deluding conviction that it’s a force for moral goodness, with hopes for helping the world, yet with tremendous greed and cruelty, and with blinders on to the fact that it’s piercing the hulls of so many populations worldwide.

Note that acquiring this “energy security” is not some magnanimous gesture to help Americans and make our nation more secure. These aggressive US policies to achieve “energy security” make our nation more insecure. If US foreign policymakers truly wanted to help Americans, they’d do all they could to avoid promoting antagonism and war with other nations, and they’d do all they could to reverse habitat destruction, pollution, and global warming. But no, they provoke anyone who doesn’t bow down to them, and then they pretend they’re doing all this for us, for freedom, and for justice.

Oil is not a vital resource. It’s a fatal resource. And it seems likely to me that it’s the desire for profits as well as an obsessive addiction to rivalry for obsolete resources that drives the concern over oil.  Whether the desire for profits is driving foreign policy, or whether the thinking has gotten so muddled that ensuring access to oil is perceived to be the major route for meeting the nation’s energy, economic, and security needs, the oil industry seems to have gotten the US government under its belt as an extension of Rockefeller’s policy of controlling every link in the chain of his business operation.

To get a better understanding of the personal ambitions of US foreign policymakers as they pursue their sticky fossil fuels, note Stephen Kinzer’s remark about avarice for profits from fossil fuels of Baku, Azerbaijan. Already by 1997, Unocal, Amoco, Exxon, and Pennzoil had invested billions of dollars in Azerbaijan. Kinzer writes: “‘The list of private American citizens who are seeking to make money from Azerbaijani oil or to encourage investment here reads like a roster of the national security establishment.’”

His list includes former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and James Baker, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, and former White House chief of staff John Sununu.[18] While this list doesn’t prove what is driving US foreign policy, it’s a flaming red flag. Or are we supposed to believe that these investments are merely a side interest that have no effect upon US foreign policy goals?

That this entire mindset, this sickness of the spirit, should be the underlying drive of US foreign policy is not only undemocratic and unrepresentative of the American people, but it’s contrary to the systems of morality, whether religious or secular, of many. Certainly, the pursuit of wealth is contrary to the teachings of various religious figures followed by Americans. It’s also contrary to the ideals of those outside the dominant religions of the world, as represented in this quote by Ohiyesa of the Wahpeton Dakota:

“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way it will in time disturb the spiritual balance of the man.”[19]

That the pursuit of possessions can disturb the balance within an individual, an entire society, a globalized world culture, that it can distract one from the true values of life and even damage those values, that it can disturb the balance of the environment by encouraging the destruction of the air and land and the many other species of life upon it, is a major reason not to allow this sickened attitude and obsession to steer an entire nation, its people, weapons, and the tax dollars gained from the sacrificial labor of its people, labor that also can distract and detract from the true values of life, especially if required in excess. To pretend that this pursuit of possessions, oil, wealth, and energy is actually for the benefit of the American people or even of the world is a lie, it is deceit, and likely self-deceit born by mental imbalance.

Unfortunately, for more than a century, people with this imbalance have inhabited many of our US policymaking positions and other positions of influence. But the prevalence of this imbalance, and solutions to it, are the topic for another essay!

Kristin Christman has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-10lk-CwU-5vAElcg. Kristin graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. She has been a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDlaLNJih7U. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice recently published her article on suicide, culture, and peace in their special edition on suicide, Vol. 33 No. 4.  kristinchristman956@gmail.com

 

[1] Jonathan Pearson, A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times: 9: Burning of Schenectady (Albany, NY: J. Munsell’s Sons, 1883), http://www.schenectadyhistory.org.

Carl Waldman, Atlas of the North American Indian (New York: Facts on File, 1985), 100.

[2] Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 170-71.

Democracy Now!, Interview with Michael Klare, “Russia-Georgia Conflict Fueled by Rush to Control Caspian Energy Resources,” Aug. 15, 2008, https://www.democracynow.org.

[3] Waldman, Atlas, 74.

[4] David Gelles, “GOP Treasurers Work to Thwart Climate Actions,” New York Times, Aug. 6, 2022.

[5] Savannah Bertrand, “Fact Sheet: Climate, Environmental, and Health Impacts of Fossil Fuels (2021), Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Dec. 17, 2021, https://www.eesi.org.

[6] Clare Hanrahan and Coleman Smith, “Atomic Appalachia and the Militarized Southeast,” in The Military Industrial Complex at 50, ed. David Swanson (Charlottesville, VA: 2011).

[7] Lita Epstein, C.D. Jaco, and Julianne C. Iwersen-Neimann, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: The Politics of Oil (Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2003), 10.

[8] James D. Cockcroft, Latin America: History, Politics, and US Policy (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1998), 98.

[9] Epstein, Jaco, and Iwersen-Neimann, Complete Idiot’s Guide, 12-13.

[10] Project for the New American Century (PNAC), “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt, Project Co-Chairmen; Thomas Donnelly, Principal Author (Washington, DC, 2000), 15.

[11] Heather Flint Ford, “Seeing Blue: The Impact of Excessive Blue Light Exposure,” Review of Optometry, Apr. 15, 2016, https://www.reviewofoptometry.com.

United Press International, “LED Lights Ruin Retinas, Researchers Say,” May 11, 2013, https://www.upi.com.

United Press International, “LEDs Found to Contain Toxic Materials,” Feb. 10, 2011, https://www.upi.com.

[12] Sam Carliner, “Beware the Climate Risks of War over the Arctic,” Countercurrents, Aug. 31, 2022, https://www.countercurrents.org.

[13] US Energy Information Administration, “South China Sea,” last updated Oct. 15, 2019, https://www.eia.gov.

[14] Carliner, “Beware the Climate Risks.”

[15] Christopher Simpson, The Splendid Blond Beast: Money, Law, and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1993), 63-65, 70-73.

[16] Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (New York: Addison-Wesley, 1979), 395-408.

[17] Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 19, 243-46, 250.

[18] Scahill, Blackwater, 68-69.

[19] Michael Oren Fitzgerald and Judith Fitzgerald, eds. Indian Spirit, rev. ed. (New York: MJF Books, 2006), 29.


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