Kick Their Ass and Take Their Gas

Let's see if it works again

The President’s most recent dribblings about how We’re Only In It For The Petrol confirm what I adjudged when he made similar ravings during his al-Baghdadi speech back in October (“We’re out. But we are leaving soldiers to secure the oil. And we may have to fight for the oil. It’s okay. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight...”):

We’re used to dismissing Trump’s mouthfarts, but since he is President just as James Monroe once was (I know, depressing thought, right), we may take this seriously as his official Doctrine: That everything the most radical anti-imperialist protestors claimed about America’s involvement in the Middle East was right — our adventures there are a trade of blood for oil.

This has been denied for years by conservatives... But the current leader of their movement has restated the case with the crude directness of a 40s movie gangster. If for nothing else we should be grateful for his clarity.

But that was not new. It was rather a revival. Trump talked enthusiastically about stealing oil from Middle Eastern countries during his presidential campaign (“You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils”). Till the al-Baghdadi hit he hadn’t talked much about it — despite obtaining the power to actually do it — but recent events put the region back into public consciousness and the talking point back into his speeches.

The reason (to the extent that reason still holds sway in his distracted globe) is not geopolitical, but just plain political.

It goes back to the humiliation many Americans (including the Boomers who currently support Trump) felt during the late 1970s with the Iran hostage crisis and OPEC’s high gas pump prices. Before then Americans thought of the Arabian peninsula as the source of cheap oil, populated by the equivalent of service station attendants — why, they dressed all in white, too! — who made sure we got it. Suddenly these guys were not only tightening the tap, they were taking our embassy.

The coming of Big Daddy Reagan restored somewhat the general sense of giant-foam-finger-#1-ness, but it sort of sat ill that we never got to bomb the Ayatollah Assaholla. Some of that backed-up resentment came out during Operation Desert Storm, a Middle Eastern invasion ostensibly undertaken to support plucky little Kuwait, an oil-rich ally few citizens really cared about; they waved their flags and cheered the victories, as post-Reagan peer pressure demanded, but they knew this was no rendezvous with destiny. In the absence of a popular casus belli, many fantasized instead about getting some of their own back from the “oil sheiks,” and slapped “Kick Their Ass and Take Their Gas” stickers on the bumpers of their cars — which were smaller than they used to be, in the interests of fuel efficiency.

For decades now America has been playing in the Arabian sandbox and the folks back home have precious little to show for it — not only has there been no conclusive victory in any of our efforts, we haven’t even gotten reliably cheap gas prices out of it. In our paranoid times, Trumpkins believe in a lot of crazy plots and conspiracies to which no liberal would give credence, but if you told them over a beer that the big gas companies have it all rigged and supply and demand has nothing to do with it, they’d probably agree with you.

Still the disappointment and bitterness persists, so when Trump comes along saying he’s going to Kick Their Ass and Take Their Gas, maybe at least some of them feel a little of the old tingle.

I’m pretty sure Trump is currently mentally impaired, which is why so much that comes out of him sounds like senile ramblings — but I think he can recall talking points enough to salt them in there, and I’m sure Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller have drilled him: Whenever you’re talking about the Middle East, it’s like all our other foreign dealings — you’re there to get things for your people. Not to rescue some desert duchy, much less to promote “democracy” — no, to get real-sounding things they know they can use, like oil. (The implied violence against non-white people is the icing on the cake.)

So Trump gets it in there, then goes back to insulting Adam Schiff. Back in their panic rooms and bunkers his handlers wonder: Does it still work? After years of this, do enough of them feel the charge when he lays on the brutality? Or have they finally tumbled to the fact that this fat-faced TV clown not only has nothing to do with the ups and downs of their gas prices but, if he should invade one of those formerly subservient, now desolate, Middle Eastern nations, it won’t be to Kick Their Ass and Take Their Gas, but to Make Things Easy for Exxon and BP?