Friday, July 21, 2006

There's no pleasing some people

(Or, what the electric car and the war in Iraq have in common.)

A further note on the movie last night. One of the things that the film makes clear, as well as Michael Shnayerson's book on the EV1, is that by about 1995, there was no such thing as good news for GM when it came to the EV1.

Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of what you or I would call "good news". There were long waiting lists for the EV1, the battery technology was advancing rapidly, GM's engineers kept meeting or exceeding their targets. All in all, there was a lot to be happy about.

Unless, of course, your main goal was never to make the EV1 in the first place. GMs main goal was not building the electric car, but rather fighting the law that made it necessary. This meant that every advance in technology, every hurdle they leapt, was very, very bad news for GM.

This is put explicitly in Shnayerson's book more than once. The reaction to good news - for example, when the advanced batteries began to pay off - in the boardrooms at GM was essentially, "Oh crap. If the feds find out that we can make good electric cars, they'll think we can actually make good electric cars!" Much pants-wetting ensued, and various means were used to silence the good news.

Which made me think once again of the runup to the war in Iraq. It was pretty obvious to me back in 2002-2003 that the Bush administration was driving towards the war, and their displeasure was obvious whenever they had to endure good news, like the fact that Saddam Hussein had allowed inspectors back in to the country. It got even worse when they found that, sure enough, there were no banned weapons in Iraq.

Now, while you or I would have considered this good news, the reality is that for the Bushies, this was all an obstacle to what they really wanted - not the disarming of Iraq, but the war itself and the demonstration of American power therein.

This is why I was against this war from the beginning - the war wasn't a means, it was the ends. Bush wanted to show the world he was tough enough to kill women and children, and nothing was gonna stand in his way.

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