Reducing our dependence on imported oil remains a critical goal for the United States even if anthropomorphic global warming is not occurring. “Climate-gate,” the revelation of e-mails taken from British scientists that, viewed as a group, calls into question the objectivity of their research into global warming, does not undermine efforts to secure our own energy independence.
Why? Well, as Jim DiPeso from the group Republicans for Environmental Protection notes, “[t]here are good reasons to lower our dependence on hydrocarbons, especially oil, even if all of the vetted research documenting links between fossil fuel consumption and climate change were a mirage in the desert.”
Our dependence on imported oil empowers regimes fundamentally hostile to our values, and our national interests. Regimes like, for example, “Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest gas station and a medieval dictatorship that is a cash machine for terrorist bombers” whose “agenda is keeping us hooked on oil and avoiding uppity notions about energy diversification.”
Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia, the various Persian Gulf emirates, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, are the nations that will reap the long-term benefits of increased global demand for oil.
We ignore the unforgiving math of oil dependence at our peril. America uses some 25 percent of global oil production. We hold less than 3 percent of the world’s conventional oil reserves. OPEC members around the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, land of secret A-bomb factories, hold 60 percent…
If we push forward with an energy policy that perpetuates oil dependence, the U.S. would be more vulnerable to OPEC’s manipulators than ever. Our high demand would put upward pressure on oil prices, enriching malefactors that spread violent extremism and seek the spread of nuclear weapons in the world’s most unstable region.
There is also a strong and disturbing link between the flow of oil wealth into the Gulf region and the empowerment, and spread, of the Wahhabi brand of Islam that is at the root of most Sunni Islamic terrorism. To quote Robert Baer: “We buy oil from Saudi Arabia, refine it, and put it in our automobiles, and a certain small percentage of what we pay for it ends up funding terrorist acts against America and American institutions at home and abroad.” Indirectly, the Saudi Kingdom has utilized its newfound oil wealth to export its own extremist brand of Islam through the Muslim world. Oil wealth provides the funding for the schools, foundations, and “charities,” that serve as the primary vehicle for spreading extremist ideas and theology. And of course, individuals in the Gulf provide much of the funding that goes directly to terrorist groups. Thus, through our oil dependency, we have been global jihad’s ultimate financiers.
The world’s dependence on imported Gulf oil is also a major strategic vulnerability for the global economy. Simply put, Saudi Arabia accounts for virtually all of the spare, or excess, oil production capacity in the world. That makes its oil facilities tempting targets for terrorists. The possibility of one, or more, catastrophic terrorist attacks on oil infrastructure targets in the Gulf remains one of our least-discussed strategic vulnerabilities.
The push for the development of alternative energy sources, and stricter fuel efficiency standards, is one that conservatives should support. Distilled to its essence, conservatism is ultimately about the moral obligations owed by the present to the past, and to future- Edmund Burke’s intergenerational contract. Put another way, in this context, we owe future generations a world in which regimes like the House of Saud, Iran’s Mullahs, Putin’s Russia, and Chavez’s Venezuela are not empowered, enriched, and ultimately, entrenched, by our own energy dependency.
In his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush noted that “we’re addicted to oil.” Like all addictions, our’s is fraught with dangerous consequences. We need an energy policy that serves our vital interests by diversifying our energy supply and improving efficiency. Such measures will cure our dependence on imported oil and that is a key step in securing a more decent future for generations to come.