PARIS -- An environmentalist lies down alongside his fellow organic cucumber aficionados to block the construction of an oil pipeline and wakes up a member of a proxy army serving the billionaires who are fighting against America's economic and national security interests to line their own pockets. How did that happen?
This phenomenon is on display in the battle against the Keystone XL pipeline project, the cornerstone of Canada-U.S. energy independence, set to run from Alberta, Canada, into Nebraska, then ultimately to the Gulf Coast of Texas where it can be exported.
None of this pleases environmental activists, whose actions suggest that they would rather America and its trading partners get their energy supply from foreign authoritarian regimes that are inclined to reinvest oil profits into war -- most recently in places like the North Caucasus and Syria.
"But the United States does that, too!" the activists argue. Indeed, most nations with a respectable GDP reinvest a significant portion of it into both offensive and defensive measures in the interest of their own national and economic security. The difference between siding with America and siding with Saudi Arabia, for example, boils down to ideology.
The precise term for such an activist in the Billionaire's Dictionary is "useful tool." No need for a draft when there are plenty of volunteers willing to dive head-first into the cognitive trap of substituting a billionaire's mind-set for their own. You would think the mere fact that these activists find themselves on the same side of an issue as billionaires might be cause for some soul-searching. It's as though cognitive dissonance, like critical thought, washes over them then quickly recedes, like it has somewhere better to be.
Activists have as much of a chance at stopping the march towards U.S. energy independence as they have in affecting global climate cycles with a PowerPoint presentation by Al Gore. The only question worth asking here is, "Cui bono?" Who will ultimately profit?
In the case of Keystone XL, last week's State Department report ought to have assured President Obama that there were no significant environmental red flags associated with the project. Still, the White House has said that it isn't in any rush -- a curious position for a president who had just wrapped a State of the Union address by highlighting the future star role of his veto pen on issues that have been subjected to infinitely less scrutiny than Keystone.
So then, why the holdout? Either Obama and his supporters like the idea of foreign oil, or they prefer a domestic alternative to the pipeline. Or perhaps both.