Sunday, December 05, 2004

A whole new world. . .

(Thanks to Short Schrift for making me aware of this article.)

I'm not usually one for this "we have to be united, especially after such a divisive election" line of crap. First of all, as Sunni/Shiite tensions in Iraq, and the electoral shenanigans in the Ukraine show, we're plenty united already in that no matter how much we liberals may talk about our positions not being of any consequence, no one is taking up arms, and U. S. emigration, I strongly believe, will continue to be negligible. No matter what you think about the next likely Supreme Court nominees, my prediction is that the Republic will survive. That said, I feel no need to pretend to be any more conservative, or any happier with the current administration than I really am, just for some ideal of "unity."

There are however, a few ideas that have the potential to really become a national project, something that can draw contributions from brilliant minds, left and right, and lead to real and concrete benefits for the U. S., and, just maybe the rest of the world.

Thomas Friedman argues in today's New York Times that energy independence should be that project. Friedman argues that funding for the National Science Foundation should be doubled, with twinned goals of training a new generation to replace the "generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians who were spurred to get advanced degrees by the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik and the challenge by President John Kennedy to put a man on the moon," and to support "crash science initiative for alternative energy and conservation to make America energy-independent in 10 years." Friedman argues that an energy independent America will not only have local economic benefits, but a global political impact as well.

Friedman's words:

When did the Soviet Union collapse? When did reform take off in Iran? When did the Oslo peace process begin? When did economic reform become a hot topic in the Arab world? In the late 1980's and early 1990's. And what was also happening then? Oil prices were collapsing. . . . It's no accident that the 1990's was the decade of falling oil prices and falling walls.

If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, he would dry up revenue for terrorism; force Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to take the path of reform - which they will never do with $45-a-barrel oil - strengthen the dollar; and improve his own standing in Europe, by doing something huge to reduce global warming. He would also create a magnet to inspire young people to contribute to the war on terrorism and America's future by becoming scientists, engineers and mathematicians. "This is not just a win-win," said the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. "This is a win-win-win-win-win."

I don't care if the President is a Republican or a Democrat: put that initiative forward, and I'm on board.

No comments: