October 12, 2006

For years, there was one word that would not pass the President’s lips in regards to Iraq, and that word is oil.

No, we couldn’t possibly be in Iraq for that, Bush and his flunkies told us. The U.S. motives were so much more noble than that.

Never mind that Iraq sits upon the second largest oil reserves in the world, and that Bush and Cheney are oil guys, and that Cheney himself had maps of Iraq’s oil fields prior to the invasion, and that our invading forces took over the oil fields first, and once our troops got to Baghdad they protected only the oil ministry.

At his press conference on Wednesday, he brought up the dirty little word three times as a reason for the United States now to stay in Iraq.

Throughout the lead-up to the war and well past the fall of Baghdad, oil was the great unmentionable.

But now Bush himself is mentioning it.

At his press conference on Wednesday, he brought up the dirty little word three times as a reason for the United States now to stay in Iraq.

“We can’t tolerate a new terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East, with large oil reserves that could be used to fund its radical ambitions, or used to inflict economic damage on the West,” he said the first time.

“Extreme elements” in Iraq “want to control oil resources,” he said at second reference.

“They’ve got the capacity to use oil as an economic weapon,” he said the third time.

This is beyond cynical.

Bush understood that oil wasn’t a sellable reason for invading Iraq, but now it’s supposed to be a selling point for staying there?

The Bush propagandists were right the first time. The American people won’t abide by another 2,745 U.S. deaths or another 20,687 U.S. injuries for oil in Iraq.

But at least now Bush admits what it’s all about.


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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