Monday, July 24, 2006

Henry Ford and the Politics of the Middle East

The current carnage in Lebanon is just one more instance of the amazingly violent dysfunction of the Middle East. It has spurred me not to comment directly, but to recall a more general connection between Henry Ford's mass production of his Model T 98 years ago and the politics of the Middle East. Could anyone then have realized the unintended consequences of this astounding triumph of American ingenuity?

The obvious connection is the increasing thirst over the past decades for oil. The internal combustion engine's ascendancy to the primary means for moving people and goods also means that entire economies have become dependent on fossil fuel for transportation. No one can reasonably deny the United States' need to secure oil reserves plays a major role in our ongoing interest in the Middle East. And conversely, oil-producing nations have enormous and disproportionate pull in international affairs as a result. It's so obvious I need not comment further.

The more subtle correlation is between Tin Lizzie and terrorists, who now have a ready-made, and certainly surreptious, means for delivering a bomb. The automobile becomes an explosive, driven unannounced to its destination, and wrecking immense havoc. Who could foresee the process set in motion way back in 1908?

No comments: