Monday, April 14, 2008

The Wrong Occupation: Why over-extending the war-and-oil business is a bad thing

(photos are of the Korean war museum in Dandong and some war products geared to the weapons industry's special market niche)

Don't get me wrong. I think that the Chinese should never have occupied Tibet. But, hey, come on. That happened back in 1959. Why are Bush and Cheney suddenly squawking about it now?

"Look at it this way," my friend Joshua just e-mailed me. "Bush and Cheney are oilmen and weapons manufacturers. That's what they do. And if your company makes half of its profit from manufacturing weapons and the other half of your profit from selling oil, then doesn't it make perfect sense to go out and start wars -- preferably on countries that have oil?

Sounds like a good marketing strategy to me.

"So Bush and Cheney, who have been weapons manufacturers and oilmen for decades, get themselves in a position to start wars for oil. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. And this is true even of self-proclaimed 'born-again' dogs."

Good grief! America shoulda seen this coming! If we had elected a piano player for President, we coulda figured that he or she would soon have all of America playing the piano. But if you get a weapons dealer and an oil manufacturer shoved down your throats, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out which direction our country's gonna take.

Weapons and oil.

"Okay. So Bush and Cheney attack Iraq -- and their sales shoot right up. Then they get the brilliant idea that, if profits increased by invading Iraq, then they would freaking DOUBLE if they attacked Iran." That makes perfect merchandising sense. Maximize the bottom line.

But if peddling war and oil is their company's marketing niche, then why stop at Iran? You don't need a degree from Yale Business School to figure that one out. "Are you saying that Bush and Cheney might be using the Tibet occupation issue as a strategy to drum up a war with China?"

"Sure." If you want to swim with the sharks in business, you gotta think big. Declaring war on China? It doesn't get much bigger than that in the boardroom.

"But wait," I replied. "If war for oil is a good thing, why stop with China? Back in the 18th century, didn't colonists come to America and seize all this land from the Indians? So can't Bush and Cheney declare war on Texas, Oklahoma, California, Pennsylvania and Alaska and seize all their oil on the pretext of saving Native Americans from Occupation too?" I mean after the occupation of Iran, Iraq and China of course.

But guess what? I'm over here in China right now. And I'm here to tell you that an oil war with China is gonna be extremely difficult to win, no matter how many weapons get sold.

Perhaps it's time or Bush and Cheney to realize that it also makes good business sense to not over-extend.

PS: My friend Luan just e-mailed me with a good idea. "When you go to Dandong, sign up for one of those half-day tours which takes you out to a hydro-electric dam which the Chinese built over the Yalu River. It extends over onto North Korean soil. Then when you walk across the dam there, you will actually be standing in North Korea."

That sounded like a good plan, but when I asked around about taking the tour, I was told that security on both sides of the dam had been tightened up lately and tours there were no longer available.

Also one local resident I talked with at Peter's Cafe told me that, "The last time I went there, some North Koreans threw stones at me -- and I'm Chinese. So they would more than likely try to throw stones at you too." But that might actually be a good thing because I'm supposed to be collecting stones for my daughter Ashley's friend Aleena. She's an artist and uses sand and rocks from all over the world in her work. So if they throw rocks at me, then I wouldn't have to go through the effort of digging them up.

PPS: When I woke up this morning, my tongue was all coated -- which is a sure sign that one's intestinal tract isn't working smoothly. For example, when babies are just born, their digestive tracts are all new and never been test-driven and it takes them a while to get that system up and running, so until their systems learn to function right, tiny babies have coated tongues. And my tongue is coated too. I guess it's time to stop eating so much at my hotel's free breakfast buffet.

PPPS: I know that I complain a lot about not being able to speak Chinese over here and how no one here speaks English. "Why don't you just go buy a phrasebook?" someone just asked. But actually, I sort of like it this way because not being able to speak or read Chinese gives me a precious opportunity to talk with people. For instance, I met a girl on the train to Dandong who practiced her English on me and I never would have connected with her if I had just sat back and relied on phrasebooks. Plus she gave me the cutest little miniature teddy bear too. "To remember me by."

Yet another PS: While here in China, I've been reading Walter Brasch's excellent book, "Sinking the Ship of State". Brasch is a fabulous researcher and really nails GWB regarding a whole bunch of issues -- and entertains you while he's doing it. Almost every page contains the kind of information that should have put Bush in jail years ago.

With regard to oil, Brasch wrote that, "Subsidies to the nation's energy companies amount to about $14.5 billion. To keep the oil industry happy, the Bush-Cheney administration, loaded with former oil and energy corporation executives, has shoveled more than $8 billion in tax benefits to the nation's oil industries [in 2005]." That's not fair! Why them and not me! I want $8 billion in tax benefits too!