Growing Militarization Of Our Oil Dependence
RISING GASOLINE prices and tight global supplies have given fresh impetus to claims that the world is fast approaching the moment of "peak" oil production, beyond which we can expect declining energy output and economic decline. While there is no doubt that global oil output will attain peak levels, the current rise in prices reflects a more worrisome phenomenon: America's growing dependence on imported petroleum from unstable and unfriendly countries, entailing an increased risk of supply disruptions and military involvement abroad.
The prudent response to this perilous situation would be to reduce our consumption of petroleum and to accelerate the search for practical alternatives, such as wind, solar, and hydrogen power. These endeavors would not bring instant relief but, over time, could help immunize our economy to the constant turmoil in oil-producing areas. Unfortunately, our leaders have chosen a different solution: to militarize our foreign oil dependency and rely on the presence of our armed forces to guarantee future supplies.
American soldiers are already protecting oil facilities in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, and the Republic of Georgia or are training and advising the local forces assigned to this duty. American warships also patrol the tanker lanes in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, South China Sea, and the waters off Nigeria. Mercifully, the loss of life in these operations has so far been relatively small, but is sure to rise as the violence intensifies and we become more dependent on energy derived from war-torn areas.
The American people now face a critical choice: We can continue to increase our dependence on imported oil and risk a higher price in both treasure and blood to obtain it, or we can move to reduce our reliance on petroleum altogether. We should demand that our leaders invest in new energy sources rather than risk the lives of our young men and women in uniform.