Jim Hoagland wrote these words in an editorial titled, "The True Cost of
Oil" for the Washington Post Sunday issue of November 25, 2001. "America's
oil habit helped turn U.S. citizens into targets of choice for the butchers
that al Qaeda chose for the grisly work of Sept.11. The line that connects energy
habits and the gas guzzlers that now clog U.S. highways to the 15 young Saudi
Arabians who helped massacre some 4000 Americans and others 10 weeks ago is
both tenuous and clear. There are no pure one-to-one causes and effects in life.
But it is abundantly clear that the need for imported oil has kept the U.S.
more deeply entangled with decadent regimes of the greater Middle East than
many Americans realize or would want.
"After a promising start in the 1970s on conservation and developing alternatives
to hydrocarbon fuels, Americans have slept through two decades of consumption
as usual. [About 53 percent of domestic oil consumption comes from overseas,
up from 45 percent in 1995. About half comes from member countries of the OPEC
cartel. Half of that comes from the Persian Gulf.] Strategic neglect on energy
imports is no longer an option. It is urgent and vital for America's citizens
and leaders to think seriously about the interplay of oil, war, and global terrorism
for these reasons: The campaign against the Taliban has drawn American forces
deep into Central Asia, a region that looms increasingly large as a new source
of oil and gas. The temptation to [become] dependent upon dictatorships in the
new oil El Dorado will be enormous and must be resisted. The long-delayed but
now tangible emergence of Russia as a major oil exporter is reshaping and unsettling
oil markets long dominated by OPEC and Saudi Arabia. A desperate OPEC has threatened
a price war that could bankrupt Russia if Vladimir Putin does not agree to [its]
price fixing scheme. America's [military] presence in the Persian Gulf has given
the Saudi family a false sense of security. Each nation has squandered a decade
in addressing its own urgent challenges. Worse, each has helped the other to
avoid comprehending painful realities that can no longer be postponed."
We shall see.