Crossing the Rubicon: An Interview with Michael Ruppert
By Rob Williams
Most people I know have some intuitive sense that the stories told about the way the world works in our culture of daily "news" (and I use the term loosely) are suspect. The real stories about power and the ways power is exercised lie buried beneath the surface. But how deep, to quote The Matrix’s Morpheus, does this rabbit hole go? For those willing to crawl down the hole, U.S. investigative journalism has its own Morpheus, and his name is Michael Ruppert.
A UCLA political science honors graduate and former LAPD narcotics investigator, Ruppert is the editor/publisher of From the Wilderness (www.fromthewilderness.com), a monthly newsletter now read by more than 16,000 subscribers in forty countries, including forty Congressmen, both Houses’ intelligence committees, and professors at more than thirty universities around the world. He is also author of a new and startling book called Crossing the Rubicon, in which he draws on From the Wilderness’s seven years of research to tell a disturbing story about the way the world really works.
What Ruppert shares is not for the faint of heart. He asserts, as other researchers have, that key members within the U.S. intelligence community and the Bush administration helped engineer the 9/11 terrorist attack in order to build U.S. public support for a military invasion and occupation of the greater Middle East. But Ruppert goes way beyond 9/11, arguing that the U.S. economy, built on an unsustainable "growth through debt" model and fed by more than $500 billion a year of laundered C.I.A.-controlled global drug money, is about to crash. Beyond the obvious—massive consumer debt, tremendously high levels of federal borrowing and spending, and spectacular corruption (more than $4 trillion have gone missing from the U.S. Treasury)—lies the specter of "Peak Oil."
What dire news could possibly motivate any political official to consider supporting terrorist attacks on our native soil? The concept of Peak Oil, simply stated, suggests such a terrifying prospect: the planet is rapidly running out of hydrocarbon energy resources. Using geologist M. King Hubbert’s statistical model, which accurately predicted to within one year the coming of Peak Oil in the United States (1970), members of the world’s geological community argue that the world has now reached Peak Oil; less than 50 percent of the globe’s fossil fuel energy remains, and these hydrocarbon resources are the most inaccessible and expensive to locate, extract, refine, and transport to market.
For a world economy powered, literally, by fossil fuel energy, this is sobering news. Our food and clothes are produced with oil (for every calorie of food Americans eat, we burn 20 calories of the stuff); most of the world’s 600 million internal combustion engines run on oil, and the energy to power our home and businesses are sustained on the black gold. No combination of alternative energy sources—nuclear, coal, wind, water, solar, geothermal, hydrogen—come close to matching the ubiquity of oil and natural gas. Pull fossil-fuel energy out of the equation, and our global economy will collapse. Trillions of dollars will evaporate. Billions of people will starve. Many more millions will experience "severe dislocation." How’s that for a euphemism?
Despite mounting evidence on a wide variety of fronts, Americans are in denial about Peak Oil’s impact, and our political leaders, for the most part, have refused to acknowledge the gravity of our situation. "The apparent crisis is about terrorism," summarizes Ruppert. "The real crisis is about energy scarcity." The crisis of Peak Oil, Ruppert suggests, explains why the U.S. government is willing to engage in global drug trading and money laundering to fund illegal covert operations around the globe, to spy on its own citizens, to undermine Constitutional freedoms, and to support attacks by terrorists like Osama bin Laden (himself a CIA intelligence asset). The result? The U.S. government has created a "War on Terror" to justify spending 1 billion a week fighting simultaneous wars ("a war that will not end in our lifetimes," as Dick Cheney says) in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries central to strategic control of the world’s remaining energy reserves. Trillions of dollars and billions of lives are at stake, and instead of developing alternatives to our fossil-fuel powered way of life, our federal government is squandering what remaining time, energy, and money we have to solve the Peak Oil dilemma by choosing to fight expensive and bloody foreign wars around the globe.
Perhaps Dick Cheney said it best when he stated that "the American way of life is not negotiable." But what about Vermont? Are we willing to work to find solutions? I talked with Michael Ruppert about Peak Oil, 9/11, and Vermont independence.
RW: In Crossing the Rubicon, you provide a book’s worth of evidence to suggest that key players within the Bush administration helped engineer the 9/11 terrorist attacks to provide a pretext for securing the globe’s remaining fossil-fuel energy reserves. What evidence has emerged since your book’s publication that further bolsters this argument?
MR: I think we’ve seen evidence emerging on two fronts. The first is oil and energy: Peak Oil is extremely real and threatening, and it’s more imminent than most people thought. We are looking at serious major energy shortages this year, earlier than we anticipated, and the oil production numbers continue to perform as we thought they would, with decreasing supply, increasing demand, and rising prices.
Secondly, on the military front, we’ve seen retrenchment, globally, in terms of the world’s support of Iran in anticipation of a possible U.S. military occupation of that country, which I don’t think will happen. The world needs Iranian oil; China has invested $200 billion in Iran, India has invested $40 billion, and Germany has invested $8 billion. The rest of the world is making it very clear to the U.S. that we will not be allowed access to Iranian oil, at least, not without a big fight.
We’re also, by the way, seeing plans emerging to balkanize Iraq—suggestions to carve up Iraq into oil-rich and oil-poor regions; with the U.S. controlling oil-rich regions and making occupation that much more affordable, at least in the short term.
RW: You recently suggested that the "window of opportunity" has closed, as far as using emerging truths about the Bush administration’s complicity in 9/11 to bring about political reform. Speak more about this.
MR: With the 2004 presidential election and the 2005 inauguration of Mr. Bush, any window has closed. The 9/11 Commission and Congress have conducted all of their hearings, and the political and legal will to address the truth about 9/11 has evaporated. 9/11 has become history. To focus on 9/11 is a waste of energy.
RW: What of the "9/11 Truth" community?
MR: I appreciate any efforts to educate people about the truths regarding 9/11. I also see the 9/11 Truth community as fragmented, well-intentioned, and politically na�ve, sometimes belligerently so. Teaching the truth about 9/11 for historical purposes is important, but to make it the primary focus of our educational efforts right now is a waste of time, with the reality of Peak Oil on the horizon.
RW: In Rubicon, you note that eminent geologist M. King Hubbert’s prediction about the U.S. reaching Peak Oil in 1970 were dead on. Have we reached Peak Oil globally? What evidence is there to bolster this claim?
MR: We will never know for certain until we see Peak Oil in the rearview mirror. Rapid decline of major oil fields indicates that our predictions are much more accurate and more serious than we anticipated.
RW: The British news magazine The Economist recently did a feature issue on oil in which they referred to Colin Campbell and Matthew Simmons, two researchers whose evidence you cite in Rubicon, as "petro-pessimists" who paint a far-too-urgent picture regarding Peak Oil. Your response?
MR: Here we are two months after The Economist published that issue, and our predictions seem dead on. Remember, The Economist has a vested interest in maintaining existing markets as long as possible, and that includes reporting on stories in a way that benefits the status quo.
RW: What concrete steps can all of us take to prepare for Peak Oil?
MR: Peak Oil is here, and will turn out to be the single most important event in human civilization. The subsequent energy shortfall will take us back to a carrying capacity of two billion people. It won’t be pretty. There will be survivors, who will figure out how to manage through place-based local cooperative efforts. I’m beginning to see this all over the country. The question is: Can people organize themselves in time?
RW: You’ve suggested, in your writings and talks, that American political culture is more and more resembling fascism. What recent evidence do you see?
MR: The list of things happening within the U.S. is truly frightening, in terms of both volume and speed. Congress is moving to throw out the 25th Amendment, which imposes a two-term limit on sitting presidents; the FBI can now issue its own subpoenas, without court involvement; It has just been proposed that U.S. military intelligence should work with local law enforcement agencies to weaken "posse comitatus"; Congressman James Sensebrenner has now introduced legislation—HR 1528—to impose a mandatory five-year prison sentence for failing to inform on family members or friends guilty of marijuana possession or minor drug use; I predict we will soon see a national draft, and Canada will not harbor U.S. deserters as it did during Vietnam, as it is now a virtual U.S. colony. The list goes on and on.
RW: Paint a picture of our near-term future.
MR: We’ll see major blackouts, the dollar will collapse, we’ll experience massive unemployment, the housing market will tank, and there will be a national "fire sale" as people and businesses are stripped of their assets. My best financial advice, acknowledging that there is no "one size fits all" plan, is to stay liquid, get out of debt while you still can, and decide if your most valuable assets, including your own home, are worth hanging on to. If your home is on a few acres with running water and rich soil, then sit on it. If it’s a condo in downtown Manhattan, you might consider moving.
RW: What are your thoughts regarding Vermont independence and secession—the voluntary breakup of U.S. Empire through peaceful and cooperative means?
MR: The U.S. Empire will tank one way or another. I love Vermont, and have some old friends there. Any project that encourages cooperative efforts to reinvent some of our most basic and fundamental social and political policies around energy, agriculture, money, etc., is the best hope we have.
Historian, media educator, and musician Rob Williams works with the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME at http://www.acmecoalition.org/) and Vermont Commons (www.vtcommons.org). Read, listen to and watch at www.robwilliamsmedia.com. Photo from the University of Calgary Gauntlet