Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Someone Gets It

Fareed Zakaria, in Newsweek, pinpoints the real national security issue that should be driving U.S. foreign policy, particularly w/r/t the Middle East.
If I could change one thing about American foreign policy, what would it be? The answer is easy, but it's not something most of us think of as foreign policy. I would adopt a serious national program geared toward energy efficiency and independence. Reducing our dependence on oil would be the single greatest multiplier of American power in the world. I leave it to economists to sort out what expensive oil does to America's growth and inflation prospects. What is less often noticed is how crippling this situation is for American foreign policy.
Our Iraq fiasco, to the extent it was driven by any sentient reasoning, was driven by an attempt to "stablilize" the region in order to ensure the free flow of oil for American oil companies and American SUVs. It certainly wasn't for any reason related to national security, WMDs, terrorists or any of that other vacuous claptrap.

The current flap over Venezuela, led by the complete nimrod Pat Robertson, is only important because of our dependence on oil. Oil gives Hugo Chavez an importance out of all scale to his true significance (note in particular Robertson's insistence that whacking Chavez would not stop oil shipments from Venezuela).

All of this will only get worse. As demand increases continue to outstrip supply increases, every oil supplier takes on added significance, and every storm in the Gulf of Mexico and protest in Ecuador serve to push oil prices ever higher.

What is unfortunately the case is that the Bush administration is so thoroughly wedded to the oil culture that it is unable to see the forest for the trees. All of the carping about "security" in terms of Iraqi insurgents misses the point that until we are less intimately wedded to the sources of the problem, we will never be free of them.


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