Surrealpolitic for surreal times.: Everything Oil Is New Again.

8.30.2006

Everything Oil Is New Again.

In a speech August 30th at Purdue University, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar said that Russia, Iran and Venezuela's adversarial "regimes" (quotes mine) threaten U.S. energy supplies and that these three countries' use of these supplies as leverage against their neighbors increases the chance of future conflict over diminishing supplies. Thank God we're not any of their neighbors or we too might be drawn into conflict.

It comes as no surprise that nations go to war over diminishing resources since it has been the cause of every major conflict ever. What should come as a surprise is that our nation has all the resources it needs to completely kick dependancy on foriegn oil and we still can't. Politicians will tell you it's a complicated geo-political situation and that it simply can't happen overnight and they are right. It can't happen overnight. It should have happened in 1973 when we all knew this was going to be a problem.

When Richard Nixon was still in office (our oil problems began before Carter although many Reagan campaign managers would have you think differently) the energy 'crisis' truly began in this country and coincidentally when many Americans first learned their oil actually came from somewhere else. At that point, when America first realized that we were no longer in control of our most important resource, did we do the smart thing? No. We did not. In fact, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, our dependence on foreign oil nearly doubled since that year. In 1972 the U.S. imported 28 percent of its oil versus the 55 percent it does today and projections show that 25 years from now, we're looking at 70 percent. And guess where that oil is coming from? Not Canada, my friends.

"So maybe this Iraq war was a good thing, Mr. Surrealpolitic. If we set up a puppet regime in one of the richest oil producing states in the Middle East, our problems are solved! It's like a pipeline right to our own gas stations that will never ever end." You might say this and, on paper, it would probably look good. So how is it working for you now? Not so good I'm thinking. We must realize by now that not only has our mishandling of this war emboldened our enemies in the region, but it has now elevated Iran to the dominant political force in the Middle East and if you think they're not going to pull the strings in Iraq once we leave, please take a look at a map. And if Iran is going to influence the Middle East, you can bet they're going to have something to say about the price of oil and who gets it.

What we should do is look at Brazil who has, since the 1973 oil crisis, weened themselves off foreign sources of oil by about 40 percent. 20 percent of that comes from ethanol, a product we can easily make in this country. So why don't we? Well, I believe Vice President Cheney (who held an 'energy policy' meeting in which the biggest American oil companies were invited to attend but not the press) said it best for this Administration: "Conservation is a personal virtue." Meaning that if you want to conserve, go ahead my friend while I guzzle this bottle of WD-40 for lunch. Besides, why should we conserve when we have the greatest military on Earth to get whatever resources we need whenever we need it? That plan seems to be working well enough.

Not to be glib, the world oil production is projected to increase by about 65 percent in the next 30 years; three quarters of that from OPEC countries. Here's another fun fact from the International Energy Agency I'll bet you didn't want to know: "Since most OPEC reserves are located in the Middle East, by 2030, Middle Eastern producers will supply 50 percent of U.S. oil imports, 50 percent of Europe's, 80 percent of China's and 90 percent of Japan's." So, Senator Lugar, I suggest you who drive a Prius (he does, actually) should maybe talk to your friends up there in Washington and see what you can do about a different energy policy. After all, we only have so many troops.

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