Peace and Russian Oil–You can’t have it both ways

It’s amazing to me as I see the news report of the crazy pointless war in Ukraine to see that we are imposing tough sanctions on Russia, but not cutting off the oil purchases. Have we not learned our lessons that we cannot buy oil from evil dictators and then expect them to behave peacefully? We always seem to want it both ways when it comes to oil. Think about Saudi Arabia, where women are basically prohibited from going outside without a male escort and their faces covered. This is another brutal dictatorship, one that cut a journalist for the Wall Street Journal apart with a bone saw inside their embassy, but that’s cool with the USA as long as they keep the oil flowing.

And the same with China. Here we buy cheap electronics from a communist dictatorship that is currently forcing religious minorities by the millions into internment camps for re-education, and which has subjugated Tibet to decades of harsh occupation. But that’s ok with us as long as they keep the cheap iPhones coming. What are we going to do when they invade Taiwan? Imagine if new New York City were an independant country, and China were to try to stop the USA from invading across the Hudson River in New Jersey. Militarily there really would be nothing they could do to stop us, and the situation in Taiwan is exactly like that. If China invaded Taiwan, we would whine and complain, but would we stop the flow of goods? Unlikely.

We are the nation that has the greatest influence in the world. We used to be a bastion for peace. Our Statue of Liberty welcomes the poor huddled masses, but in reality we separate children from their parents and incarcerate them on the border with Mexico. We rant about the atrocities in Ukraine, but did we not engineer the invasion of Iraq based on false evidence of weapons of mass destruction? Have you seen the reports of how many Americans died in that war? A quick search shows 4,486 from 2002 to 2012. Have you ever seen any reports of how many Iraqi Civilians died? According to Wikipedia, over 1,000,000 deaths through 2007.

And think of the influence we have with Guantanamo Bay. How can we stand for peace and justice in the world when we have held prisoners without charge since 2002 and subjected them to brutal torture? Here is an excerpt from the letter written by the USA Military Jury in recent proceedings concerning Majid Kahn, who appears to have been sucked into our system more or less by accident. This was written by USA Military officers in a letter signed by all jurors in that case:

“Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times.

The panel also responded to Mr. Khan’s claim that after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, he told interrogators everything, but “the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” and so he subsequently made up lies to try to mollify his captors.

“This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests,” the letter said. “Instead, it is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government.”

— New York Times

Do you remember the Boston City Marathon Bombing? On April 15th, 2013, two terrorist brothers set off two bombs inside pressure cookers that killed 3 people. The news coverage was around the clock. Do you remember that? How about the Wech Baghtu Wedding Party? Have you ever heard of the Wech Baghtu Wedding Party? This was a wedding in Afghanistan on November 3, 2008, when the USA dropped a drone bomb on a wedding and killed 37 completely innocent people.

How about in 2021, when the USA was abandoning our operation in Afghanistan, and we dropped a drone bomb on Zemari Ahmadi? We thought he had bombs hidden in his trunk and that he was going to try to blow up people trying to flee the chaos we created at the Kabul airport. Turns out this was mistaken. He had water jugs for his family in his trunk and we killed ten of them. Was anyone ever held accountable for this murder? No.

So here we are, condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while still buying their oil. Here we are complaining about China’s treatment of dissidents and the people of Tibet, but please, don’t stop to flow of cheap consumer goods. Yes, they are torturing people and putting people into concentration camps, but hey… we need these inexpensive televisions!

We have to look to ourselves first before we can point our fingers at others.

Of course Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is wrong and should stop immediately. But we are ourselves guilty of exactly the same abuses. We ourselves torture people. We ourselves drop drone bombs on weddings and never even identify the people who did it. We ourselves trump up reasons to invade foreign countries and kill millions of people and only report our own casualties. We ourselves prop up brutal dictators so that we can extract the material resources of their countries.

If we want to make a change in the world, we need to stop buying Russian Oil. We need to close Guantanamo. We need to hold accountable our own people who give orders to drop drone bombs on weddings and innocent people. We need to stop supporting brutal dictatorships like Saudi Arabia just because we want the oil.

What should we write on the statue of liberty?

And what about social media? Sure Facebook is used to spread mistrust and misinformation, and that company takes zero responsibility for the content it publishes. They complain that they have not control over what others post on their platforms. This causes such division in our country. You can stop using these platforms today. But it’s just so convenient to use Facebook and Instagram and What’s App.

We are always told to look at the other for the source of our problems. We are told to fear Russia and China and Covid. But we have killed more people than any other nation in the last 20 years. Change must start at home.

I pray for peace. I pray for change. I pray to restore the integrity of the America I grew up to love. But we cannot condemn Putin while we buy his oil. We cannot condemn China while we buy their TVs. We cannot condemn Facebook while we scroll through pictures of cats in boxes.

Change starts at home. Let’s all start to read the other side of the story. Let us lead by example.

Peace.

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