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The US is not leaving Iraq

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Message Mike Bendzela
The United States is not leaving Iraq.

I don't care what the American public thinks. I don't care what the Democrats have promised them. I don't even care how many soldiers and civilians have to die. The United States is not leaving Iraq.

I represent the 5% of the world's population that require 25% of the world's oil to survive. I'm one of twenty people at a party, with 4 pies to be shared, and I claim one entire pie for myself.

I like my car, which requires crude oil refined into gasoline to run. I like being able to drive to the shopping center in January to buy fresh strawberries shipped from Watsonville, CA, 3,333 miles away. It takes chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas, a cousin of oil); pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (made from oil); plenty of mechanical "labor" (courtesy of diesel); and plastic packaging (oil) to get those strawberries to my table.

I like the sound of my tires (5 gallons of oil each) on the asphalt (a form of petroleum) and the smell of my plastic interior and synthetic fiber seats as I drive to get my strawberries.

I like being able to put off till tomorrow what I can't pay for today-fresh winter produce-with my polyvinyl chloride credit card.

I like being able to eat my strawberries in the balmy 70-degree environment (#2 heating oil) of my vinyl-sided home made pretty with oil-based paints, synthetic carpets, and Formica countertops.

My own oil tank is near "E." Back when I was a wide-eyed child watching my compatriots walk on the moon, over 9 million barrels a day of liquid fuels gushed from thousands of holes drilled in the US. Today that has diminished to 5 million barrels a day. Still, I require 21 million barrels of the liquid stuff to stay docile.

The great East Texas oilfield, the largest in the continental US, which fueled our defeat of the Nazis, is now producing 99% water, 1% oil.

The Prudhoe Bay field on Alaska's North Slope, the largest in US territory, sustained us through Reagan's "Morning in America," but it now produces 80% water.

That's why we currently are forced to rent rigs for hundreds of millions of dollars a day to drill thousands of feet into the earth's crust in the ultra-deep waters in Hurricane Alley off the Louisiana coast.

Our number one importer, Canada, is down to using its natural gas to boil and scrub the tar out of sand and gravel in northern Alberta, which is then converted to synthetic oil and piped to the US. Maybe they'll get to 2 million barrels a day. But I'm not counting on it. Besides, what does it matter, when my need for oil grows at between 1 and 2 per cent annually?

Our number two importer, Mexico, possesses the largest oilfield in the Western Hemisphere, Cantarell, which has produced oil for over twenty-five years. Unfortunately, that field, which comprises 60% of Mexico's production, is propped up with a nitrogen gas-injection program, and the Mexican National Oil company has announced that Cantarell went into steep decline in 2006.

Our number three importer, Venezuela, is also in decline, but they are finding ways of turning Vanadium-contaminated sludge into fuel. Then there's the matter of Hugo Chavez who, I believe, possesses weapons of mass destruction.

Our number four importer, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has the world's largest oilfield, Ghawar, which provides over half of their production. Discovered in the 1940s, this field has been steadily producing oil for over 50 years now. But the oil in that massive field lies in a "column" between a rising flood of water below and an expanding bubble of gas above. No sweat, the Saudis have discovered how to drill down thousands of feet and then at right-angles to suck the remaining oil out of Ghawar horizontally. Just like in East Texas.

The Saudis' neighbor, Kuwait, has Burgan, the second largest field in the world. Burgan began going into decline in 2005. Maybe they can sell it to India. Or China.

Luckily, my Vice President was wise enough to foresee these problems back when he headed an oil services company called Halliburton in 1999: "By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day." The wisdom of that "conservatively" shocks me, even today.

Enter a known dictator, mass-murderer, and a professed enemy of the United States, squatting atop the second largest oil reserve on the planet-the largest "undeveloped" resource. This can only be described as a gift from God.

Luckily, our Supreme-court-anointed President recognized this immediately: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East." That "problem" now consists of how to get the light, sweet crude from the oilfields of East Baghdad, Rumalia, and Kirkuk to my God-appointed gasoline tank.

We capture the Wicked Witch's broom, we get The Prize. This is non-negotiable. You say people are dying. I say, "So sue me."
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Mike Bendzela lives in Maine where he teaches and is partner in a small Community Supported Agriculture farm.
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