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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

It's been well over a week since the Dems have been, um, two months from taking power so it seems just the right time for Hannity and Limbaugh to scream, "There guys ain't done nothin' yet!" Right wing blogs went crazy over the fact that Al Franken was leaving Air America on December 8, 'cept the only place he's leaving for is Iraq and Afghanistan to entertain all those troops he undermines. You know, just like Sean and Bill O go over to... um, never mind. And Glenn Beck proves once again why the execs over at MSNBC have a death wish by asking freshman congressman and first Muslim in congress to prove he's not working for the enemy.

So since the Lords of Loud are entirely too busy continuing to see how many of them can fit into the polka-dot clown car, this week let's talk about something that's truly important: There is a documentary that will be screened in Washington, D.C. November 28th that ought to be mandatory viewing for every Washington legislator, Defense Department worker and member of the Bush White House.

While "Blood and Oil...The Middle East in World War I," is no Saturday afternoon popcorn film, if there be any history lesson that should be sponged up by both political science major and those who decide on war today, this is it.

"Blood and Oil" traces the rationale and method for war in the Middle East from the very beginnings of World War I, and reveals through the millions of lives wasted and the lack of any real winners, the pure futility in the attempts to gain land and the oil underneath it.

From 1914 through the Treaty of Versailles, with little regard for cultural, historical, religious and demographic considerations (sound familiar?), the Western greed for Middle East land and oil created Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia while igniting a myriad of wars, revolts, coups and military occupations that gives one pause as to why we continue to invade the quicksand. Is it any wonder that the West, led by the United States, is more and more being touted as the evil that gives rise to terrorists who feel they have nothing to lose by standing up to those who spill blood on their land in an attempt to take their land's resources?

Through vivid images and expert commentary, we are confronted with an even more dire question: Why is it that we choose to spend so much and are willing to lose so many when another, more sensible option is available?

"The planet is dying, as are our soldiers," says B&O producer Marty Callaghan. "We need to go back to 1914 to learn what was true then remains true today: we have no business having a military presence in the Middle East. For over 85 years we've been sowing the seeds of anti-Western hatred. We have to make changes now. We need to stop subsidizing the military industrial complex as well as the oil companies. We need to make it a national priority, creating what would be a new Manhattan Project to find and develop alternative sources of energy."

Instead of placing trillions in the hands of the Defense Department, why aren't we offering trillions, not billions, but trillions, to companies to cultivate new ways to run our transportation and homes? We need to triple, quadruple, the efforts now in place; make it our country's foremost priority and industry. At the same time we have to make the search attractive to energy companies in place and that includes the oil industry.

"Blood and Oil" screams to us of mistakes that continue to be made and of lessons from them that continue to be ignored. Too many dollars thrown down an oily drain. Too many heads of government and generals of men who think of futures sacrificed as only numbers to be tallied. Too much blood spilt in the name of oil. Whether be considered strategic or otherwise, it has to stop. It's all not only wrong, it's downright stupid.

Why is it that the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history? Perhaps it's because it's been far too profitable for the few who place money and power over lives and peace. History tells us what has happened over the past hundred years hasn't worked. "Blood and Oil" shows us why.

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Steve Young is author of the wacky new children's novel, "15-Minutes" (HarperCollins)

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Albion Monitor   November 16, 2006   (

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