Gas attack #110; August 17, 2005

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

A decade of more into the sports utility vehicle craze, I got my first one earlier this year. It wasn't my doing, but came at the insistence of my wife.

I understand why she wanted one. Driving in a car can be pretty scary with all the behemoths on the road, and when you have children in the car, safety becomes even more of a concern.

We had to travel to West Virginia on Sunday, getting back last night. I had no Internet access there (television is still a relatively new technology among my relatives there), which is why this blog has not been updated lately.

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Anyway, we used to spend between $35 and $45 on gasoline when making the 800-mile round trip there. On this trip, we spent $161, thanks to our SUV and the rising gas prices. That's a stiff increase.

I think n or at least hope n we will see gas prices fall back down some from where they are now. I can't help but think the recent spike is jus the petroleum industry's way of making us long for $2-a-gallon gas and thankful for it when it gets there.

I'm reading a new book I picked up at Morgan Memorial Library last week "Understanding Iraq" is by Harvard professor William R. Polk. Polk doesn't take any sides on the war, but merely gives a history of the region and attempts to explain why it is the way it is and what we might anticipate in the future.

Iraq's history does not bode well for the U.S. occupation. I'm now up to the ill-fated British occupation and attempt at colonization which began after World War I. There are a lot of eerie similarities between the British experience nearly a century ago and our own today. Not surprisingly, there was opposition in Britain to what its government was trying to do. Polk quotes a letter from T.S. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in the London Sunday Times in August 1920:

"The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqu\u00E9s are belated, insincere, incomplete…We are today not far from a disaster…." Then, comparing the British experience with that of the then despised Ottoman rule of Iraq, he continued, "Our government is worse than the old Turkish system. They kept fourteen thousand local conscripts embodied and killed a yearly average of two hundred Arabs in maintaining peace. We keep ninety thousand men, with aeroplanes, armoured cars, gunboats and armoured trains. We killed about ten thousand Arabs in this rising this summer. We cannot hope to maintain such an average; it is a poor country, sparsely peopled."

Lawrence's point was that the current policy would not work. It was too expensive for the war-weary English public to tolerate.

Sounds vaguely familiar.