comments from Friedman and Abizaid at Stanford Forum

Stanford’s annual roundtable this year was on “Courting Disaster: The Fight for Oil, Water and a Healthy Planet.” Here are some comments from neoliberal economic architect Thomas Friedman and Gen. John Abizaid, US Army (Ret.) from the Stanford News Service.

Concerning the Middle East, Friedman blamed the United States for treating the region as a collection of cheap “gas stations” for the last 50 years. In exchange for low oil prices and a hands-off policy toward Israel, he said, the United States turned a blind eye to the entrenchment of ideological, authoritarian regimes. “It is my opinion that Osama bin Laden and 9/11 represented the distilled essence of everything that was going on out ‘back there,'” he said, referring to Western acquiescence to policies that preached intolerance and rejected equal opportunity for all citizens.

Abizaid said the dynamics in the Middle East, particularly the war in Iraq, are closely tied to oil. “We can’t really deny that,” he said. Furthermore, the rise of Sunni and Shiite extremists, the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict and global dependence on Middle Eastern oil have created problems with global implications.

“It is this dependency that can’t just be dealt with by military means,” Abizaid said. “We must adapt, as a matter of national security, a way to reduce our dependency on Middle Eastern oil.” Following enthusiastic applause from the audience, he said these problems are further complicated by the question of whether Pakistan can maintain control of its nuclear weapons and by the expansion of the terrorist group al-Qaida into a global phenomenon. “The problem for us is that we can’t deal with just military” solutions, he said. “We need to have economic, diplomatic and political components in a solution. The military is only 20 percent of the solution in the Middle East.”

The forum also covered issues related to climate change and renewable fuels.



2 Responses

  1. i’m eric. joining a couple boards and looking
    forward to participating. hehe unless i get
    too distracted!


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