08/05/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

On Morality of War, Art Imitates Life

The last scene of Sydney Pollack's 1975 film, Three Days of the Condor, has eerie relevance to current events.

"Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?" Robert Redford's Joseph Turner asks Cliff Robertson's J. Higgins. A heated exchange ensues and Turner demands that the American people be consulted by their government regarding involvement in the region. "Ask them," Turner insists, before deciding to hunt for oil abroad.

But Higgins shoots back, "Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who've never know hunger start getting hungry. You want to know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to go get it for 'em."

Having squandered the opportunities to prepare for our current energy crisis through smart, progressive energy policies, we are now victims of the secretive 2001 Cheney Energy Task Force. We're behind the eight ball on building fuel efficient vehicles such as hybrids. Even T. Boone Pickens says we don't have a plan for energy independence. As a result, there are legitimate concerns about rising heating costs. Many people here in the northeast may be cold this winter. Across the country, the cost of gasoline and diesel affects Americans' everyday lives.

The increased flow of Iraqi oil might provide relief in the coming months. The Office of the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reports that oil exports through Iraq's northern pipeline rose more than tenfold over the past year. Crude oil exports shot from 1 million barrels a month to 13 million.

So it may be easy, in the coming months, for Americans to forget the immorality of the Iraq War. But American foreign policy must be consistent with our interests as well as our morals. And as Americans, we might ask ourselves the same question Turner asks Higgins: "Do you think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?" It's a simple difference between what is right and wrong.