Worth Your Consideration

Dec. 13, 2001
Bottom Line Energy Issues - December 2001- Part 2 of 4

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-wasting 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.

By Lewis Tagliaferre

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