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Total number of comments: 4 (since 2013-11-28 16:50:37)

Manuel Garcia, Jr.

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  • Best Green Energy Responses to Climate Crisis: IC's 2012 Amun-Ra Award
    • The winds blowing over the North Sea are a much more sustainable (endless?) source of energy than the oil beneath it. Large offshore wind farms on the Dogger Bank can probably power Scotland, England and Wales, entirely.

      In your post on Norman Schwarzkopf (Dec. 28) you estimated that solar panels would be so inexpensive within 5 years that US dependence on Middle East oil would drop significantly (end?) by 2018.

      It is certainly true that more and cheaper solar panels will be produced (the Chinese own the market today), however there is one reason why oil will never lose its importance to US policy-makers: oil is and will always be essential to the powering of the US military. We will not develop solar-powered supersonic fighter-bomber airplanes, nor rapid mobility armored vehicles (helicopters, boats and ships, tanks and trucks and gun carriages) in our lifetimes. US military might is almost entirely an expression of hydrocarbon combustion (with nuclear power in submarines).

      I see no possibility of the US military lessening its consumption of petroleum (given the purpose of the US military, which I doubt will change), and I suspect much of US policy regarding oil is primarily (entirely?) to assure that the enormous supply needed for the US military machine is always (and everywhere) available. I believe this is the real reason why the USG shows negative interest in "limiting CO2 emissions" and "responding to climate change."

      Certainly, it is possible to power our civilian economies on renewable energy sources, largely because civilian power sources (and electrical re-charging stations) can usually be static and of large area and volume (with distribution networks as needed). The majority of military power sources must be compact and of high energy density (e.g., liquid fuels, explosives, solid rocket fuel; and high capacity batteries, and submarine nuclear reactors) so they can be packaged within, and power, rapidly mobile gun/missile/electronics platforms, and transport vehicles.

      I describe both of these themes ("free electricity" and a fully green civil society is possible "now," and that US militarism/power "is" continuous petroleum combustion on a massive scale) in this article, which argues for "green" national energetics (and against militarism):

      The Economic Function Of Energy
      27 February 2012
      link to swans.com

      Stories like that of Scotland, which you posted, are heartwarming to us energy and efficiency engineering enthusiasts, but much more can be done. I think the societal "breakthrough" will occur (if ever) when the popularity of sustainable (green) power overcomes the mental barrier of "cost," and such power (in civil society) is just preferred regardless.

  • The Collapse of the Climate Change Contrarians and the End of Coal
    • I hope I do not overstep my welcome here by responding with these three web-links. This particular issue has gotten much of my attention for some time.

      In brief: technically we can power humanity with little CO2 emission, and we could have FREE electricity in the U.S.A. to boot. However, I see no evidence intelligent humane socialism ("planning" and "sharing") will replace fractious panicked selfishness (capitalist exploitation) as humanity's process for managing its industrialization (how we consume energy). The "I don't want to miss out" mentality trumps any cooperation on preventing (and adapting to) climate change. The fundamental problem is one of human development: weak moral character and immature psychological development are just too widespread. The fossil record shows that changes of environment have been common, as have extinctions of maladapting species. We can easily become a thin black layer in the sedimentary rocks of a future epoch.

      The Economic Function Of Energy
      27 February 2012
      link to swans.com

      Obama's Less Bad Arctic Oil Drilling
      30 May 2012
      link to counterpunch.org

      The Righteous And The Heathens of Climate And Capitalism
      12 March 2012
      link to swans.com

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • Manuel Garcia, Jr. 04/07/2011 at 3:36 pm

      Paul Tavan: thanks.

      I agree with Little Richardjohn @ 4/04 5:47AM. My own comments in a similar vein, but different style, have been posted:

      Rules Of Rebellion
      6 April 2011
      link to dissidentvoice.org

      This is a follow-up to the disputatious replies I got to "Sentimentalism..." (above).

    • I appreciate Juan Cole's Open Letter. I include my own thoughts on the subject, below, because I've not found anywhere else to express them. MG, Jr.

      Sentimentalism, Artillery and Independence
      (Can One Be Pro-Freedom And Anti-Imperialist?)

      Manuel Garcia, Jr.
      30 March 2011

      I recall visiting my grandparents in Havana during a summer vacation in 1958. The colors, the warmth, the sounds and the odors were all rich, pungent and sensuous. Equally impressive to a boy growing up in New York City was the flagrant poverty of many Cuban people: adults with naked rented children huddled at street intersections begging from the passing tourists. Fulgencio Batista was Cuba's dictator, whose regime Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. characterized this way: "The corruption of the Government, the brutality of the police, the regime's indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic justice ... is an open invitation to revolution.” Bohemia magazine -- the equivalent in Cuba of Life magazine in the U.S. at that time -- would print pictures of revolutionaries shot dead during gunfights with Batista's police, lying rumpled in pools of blood on the street. I only heard the adults talk Cuban politics back in New York, when I was taken to the upper west side of Manhattan, our old barrio, for haircuts at the Cuban barbershop below the elevated train along Broadway, and in the brownstone apartments of relatives and family friends during Sunday visits. Everybody was anxious, everybody wanted a free Cuba, everybody was thinking of Fidel.

      That fall my father bought our first car, a 1959 Ford Fairlane with a two-tone paint job, white and caramel, "café con leche." It seemed pretty clear that our family would stay in the U.S. for good. Then, on the first of January 1959, Batista fled the island and Castro's victorious army rolled into an ecstatically jubilant Havana seven days later. We returned in June for a long summer vacation. Even in the Cubana de Aviación airliner (a Lockheed Electra) flying from New York's Idlewild Airport, one could sense the uplift, the general sense of exhilaration with the arrival of the Cuban Revolution. But the real impact of that revolution hit me when I exited the stale air-filled vibrating metal tube that was that airplane, and walked down the stairs onto the tarmac and into the lush aromatic heat of a tropical country whose people were rapt with joy. The beggar "families" were gone, smiles were ubiquitous, and "barbudos" -- the bearded ones -- were everywhere. The barbudos then were revolutionaries in pristine khakis, with gunbelts holstering highly polished and uniquely detailed pistols, some silver-colored, some gold-colored, some gun metal blue, some with very long barrels, some with artistically engraved handles. Only the beards were shaggy, all other items from boot soles to cap crests were neat, shiny and crisp. At first I was a little nervous when a barbudo would climb onto a streetcar or bus and sit near me. But they were invariably well-behaved and I soon got used to sitting next to gold-plated long-barrel (to the knee) Lugers (very pretty), gleaming mirror-finish silvery Colt 45s, and robust Smith & Wesson 44 caliber six-shot revolvers. Some barbudos might have rifles, but sidearms were universal and definitely the display items of identity.

      During that summer of 1959, we travelled all over the island, saw many scenes (like a tour through a bullet-pocked hospital in the countryside, once the scene of a battle, now happily back in service), and many happy people. I even met Fidel at Isla de Pinos (now Isla de la Juventud). However materially poor some Cubans could be, especially "campesinos," peasants in the hinterlands, they were all just so happy: believing themselves free, life despite its burdens was now a joy. Every person, every place, every moment exuded the same sense of uplift. I was immersed in a national sense of freedom, and it soaked into my psyche and bones. This experience permanently magnetized my political compass, so that regardless of verbal arguments and logical constructs in later years, my compass always points my sympathies toward freedom for any people.

      During the 52 years since my immersion in revolutionary effervescence, I've learned from the erosion of natural joy by abrasive experience that to fully relish their freedom a people have to individually commit to responsible and considerate behavior. As Aristotle said so well, "I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law." So, my bias is to favor freedom for others, with the hope that their appreciation of that freedom will express itself as Aristotelian neighborliness.

      Today, I see the people of Libya, and Bahrain, and Syria as similar to the Cubans I lived among in my grandparents' house in Batista's Cuba. They want freedom from their dictators, and I am incapable of being unsympathetic to their desires. Perhaps if I studied their cultures and histories, I'd find good reasons to overcome my emotional impulses in their favor. Perhaps I'd find backward attitudes among them, say as regards religion, or the status of women, or racial prejudices, or the administration of justice, or the treatment of animals, and these deficiencies relative to my own culture would alert me to become more logical and mature in my evaluation of their worthiness of my concern, and especially for any consideration of political and material support from my country's government. I might learn that "countries don't have friends, they have interests." If so, I would want to make sure that I did not compromise anything I had an interest in -- my principles and causes, and national resources that could be used for social benefits domestically -- by thoughtless support of foreign revolutions. After all, such sentiments can be exploited by power cliques and governments to craft foreign interventions that are instances of thinly disguised imperialist opportunism.

      However, probably because of the immediacy of today's internet telecommunications, I find it impossible to conceive of the individuals I see and hear on the streets of North Africa and the Middle East as being that remote from my experience, especially the "wireless" younger generation. They look like my kids. Do I really prefer to make logical arguments in favor of Muammar Gaddafi because it accords with my interest to oppose Western imperialism disguised as "humanitarian intervention"? I do not. Can I really put aside any consideration of the specificity of this particular revolution at this particular time (quite inconveniently timed), and see a greater good in opposing any help to the anti-Gaddafi rebels because their personal freedom is not as important in the overall scheme of things as the effort to maintain strict nonintervention by Western powers (in particular the U.S.)? I cannot. I am unable to forget the people.

      So let me ask you, is it possible to have a bias for freedom, an opposition to dictatorship anywhere, and also oppose the capitalist-imperialist policy that governs so much of (all?) U.S. and European foreign policies? Is it possible to support popular revolutions against tyrants and dictators -- no matter how benevolent these dictators can be on certain occasions and before Western audiences -- even to the point of agreeing with "2nd amendment remedies," the arming of popular revolutions so they can credibly match the firepower of their oppressors? In short, can anti-imperialists elevate freedom to a guiding principle? Is our solidarity with ideological consistency, or with masses of human beings throughout the globe?

      To answer yes to the above is to believe it possible to identify situations worthy of support, where a people are visibly demonstrating their desire to throw off tyranny and govern themselves democratically; and their dictatorial regime is demonstrating its utter lack of legitimacy. In popular fiction, the character of Rick Blane, played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 movie "Casablanca," could identify and support such revolutions. (Can as radical a movie be filmed in the U.S.today?). The French prefect of police in Casablanca accuses Rick Blane of being a "sentimentalist," because "In 1935 you ran guns to Ethiopia. In 1936, you fought in Spain on the Loyalist side." Blane replies sardonically "And got well paid for it on both occasions." The prefect rests his case, "The winning side would have paid you much better."

      So, can we be sentimentalists? Was the French fleet at Yorktown in 1781 under the command of the Comte de Grasse entirely a matter of interests and not friends, or was there some sentimentalism involved? I leave it to you to decide if this French intervention was a good thing or a failure for history. Can the Cuban-led defeat of the South African Defense Forces at the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 during the Angolan Civil War, with the liberation of Namibia and the initiation of the subsequent fall of apartheid in South Africa, be seriously regretted? The 2289 Cubans that died during Cuba's intervention in southwest Africa, and the 450,000 Cuban soldiers and development workers who spent time in this effort, were probably sentimentalists even if many were too young to remember Havana in 1959.

      News reports now suggest that President Obama and the British government are contemplating the possibility of arming the Libyan revolutionaries (link to telegraph.co.uk). Is this sentimentalism, or a cynical exploitation of public sympathy for the Libyan rebels, perhaps arming them slightly as part of a larger move to gain control of Libya's destiny? Maybe somewhat better armed Libyan revolutionaries would be able to do the dirty work of finishing off Gaddafi, and absorbing the casualties necessary for that task without then requiring the exposure to risk for NATO troops. Also, the tactic of a military assistance program might co-opt Libya's post-Gaddafi security and military services (as was done by the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations with several South American police and military forces during the 1960s). On the other hand, maybe the Libyans are smart enough to use any gifts of guns for their own liberation without losing their national sense of direction. Should NATO nations arm the Libyan rebels?

      If the NATO nations give the Libyan revolutionaries enough heavy weapons (and perhaps a few suggestions on military tactics) to overcome Gaddafi's forces, they will ensure the success of the revolution. If that revolution leads to a stable democratic government, then the cause of freedom will have been very well served, especially if that post-Gaddafi government is clearly independent. If the NATO nations are unable to accept the possibility of an independent post-Gaddafi Libyan government, they won't supply the revolutionaries with sufficient arms for a quick and decisive victory. Instead, they will dribble in just enough resources to keep Gaddafi confined to his corner while they try micromanaging the gestation of the eventual post-Gaddafi government so that it emerges as a client regime. This would be like Stalin's policy in Spain during 1936 to 1939. This attitude was captured succinctly in the film "Lawrence Of Arabia," where General Allenby is asked if he intends to keep his earlier promise to T. E. Lawrence, to arm the Arab troops with artillery in addition to small arms, so their revolt against Turkish rule can advance significantly (link to youtube.com): "If you give them artillery you've made them independent." But, Allenby knowing what London wants, replies: "Then I can't give them artillery, can I?"

      Sentimentalists hope the Libyan revolutionaries get their artillery soon, and enjoy their version of 1959 Cuban euphoria, however inconvenient their freedom turns out to be for the ruling powers. Sentimentalists prefer to have friends rather than just interests, and you can't tolerate others being oppressed or enslaved if you want them as friends.

      We should not let our opposition to the misdeeds, mistakes and misapplications of our governments throttle our willingness to take advantage of spontaneous events that can lead to the overthrown of tyrants, and the release of political freedom for more people.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~

      Manuel Garcia, Jr. is a retired physicist (U.S. nuclear bomb testing), and his e-mail is mangogarcia@att.net         

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