So what does all this bleating have to do with, say, Iraq? It matters because the utter dependency on cars we have fostered makes us, in turn, dependent on the fuel that runs the cars. That fuel no longer really comes from America, Mexico's biggest field (Cantarell) is depleting so rapidly that we might as well treat it as empty, constant disruptions in the Middle East and Africa have made production there static or declining, and the remaining nations that export (Russia, China, etc) are seeing such growth in internal demand that they can no longer export nearly what they used to.
So, really, we're glimpsing more than just the tip of the iceberg that I fully expect to sink our current civilisation. There are whole groups of geologists and oil men running through the streets screaming that we need to find a new way of doing things right goddamn now which does not involve using natural gas to turn tar and corn into crappy gasoline substitutes. Their warnings of a dire storm will go unheeded until said storm is flooding the streets and people realise too late that using a bucket to bail yourself out of a river just doesn't work.
Wow, is it just me or is that a really slick metaphor? It probably is just me. Dammit.
Right, Iraq. Raise your hand if you think we'd have even bothered if they didn't have one of the largest remaining untapped oil fields anywhere on the planet. And if you do raise your hand, you're a fucking moron and I don't want your eyeballs polluting my journal anymore. Not since we've had it proven for years now that there were no WMD and no links to Al-Qaida and that the faulty intelligence was almost entirely the result of Dick Cheney's stovepiping questionable reports straight past all the people who knew what they were doing and into the Prez's waiting arms.
We are there because an epic cadre of neoconservatives saw their chance to secure all that oil using the false pretense of spreading democracy. You think Cheney gives one tiny fuck about democracy, where his former company would have to compete with other contractors to provide reconstruction services in that ruined wasteland? There's a reason Halliburton was given a golden wheelbarrow full of our retirement savings, kids, and it ain't because they won a bidding process.
All of this falls back to the way we live our lives. Our food is trucked over thousands of miles of asphalt in plastic packages from mechanised preparation factories that are fed chemically-raised crops, every step of which requires an enormous amount of fossile fuels. Our computers are full of parts made in energy-intensive processes that spill chemicals into the countryside, and they run on electricity that sucks down even more fossile fuels. Most of our housing is arranged such that you literally cannot walk anywhere. Our way of life, even compared to Europeans who suffer no real loss of comfort in comparison to ourselves, is so horrifically wasteful that the only way to sustain it is to burn the collected energy of millions of years of sunlight, absorbed and compacted into plants and animals that have decayed over millenia into oil.
And that source of ancient sunlight is beginning to run dry. Once it is gone, or too expensive to use, we will have to find another way to live, because no amount of "alternative" fuels or energy sources will ever compare to the energy density, portability, and safety of oil. It is not thermodynamically possible.
Welcome to the future. Power up.