An Oil Fix

“America is addicted to oil.” Those were the words uttered by President George Bush on January 31, 2006, in his State of the Union address. The general US population welcomed his comments concerning energy stability. However, these remarks only mask a major failure on the part of the President. The comments demonstrate Bush’s complete lack of understanding as to how the global economy operates. Mr. Bush has resorted, like so many other politicians, to playing on the widespread Anti-Arabism in the US today.He failsto pay attention to the long term interests and necessities of The Union. He is sacrificing America’s interests for a short term boost in failing opinion polls. President Bush’s ambitious plan, “to replace more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025” is a completely unfeasible plan at best. US oil imports are continuing to rise as a percent of total imports, from 42.2% in 1990 to 56.1% in 2003. With US consumption increasing on a yearly basis, the US needs to somehow find other sources. Replacing all cars with hybrids is not a possibility, and building more nuclear or solar power plants to decrease oil dependency is a risky and expensive idea. Needless to say, for the US to stop receiving so much oil from the Middle East, we would need another source. The domestic production of oil is declining and, at roughly 8 million barrels per day, is hardly enough to match US consumption. The US consumes roughly 20 million barrels per day, while the world’s largest producer of oil, Saudi Arabia, pumps roughly 10 million barrels per day. To say that any of the US’s other major oil importers are any more stable than Middle Eastern nations is preposterous. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, hardly a friend to the US, especially when compared to Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Even Russia has attempted to use oil as a weapon against Western leaning nations like Ukraine and Georgia. The second troubling aspect of Bush’s remarks is that the President believes ending oil imports from the so-called “troubled regions” will have any effect on the US economy. The global oil market prices are fluid; they are not set by any individual party. It is irrelevant where oil comes from. Saudi, Venezuelan, and Russian oil will cost exactly the same amount at the pump, and a disruption will send oil markets soaring. This is akin to the fear over Iran – while the US does not import from the nation, if it ceased all exports, the lost production and increased prices would be devastating. The only way to truly accomplish Bush’s goal of controlling oil prices would be to end all imports and heavily subsidize the petroleum market in the US. But these two prospects would be impossible considering the US’s daily demand. If President Bush really believes that his endeavor will have any effect, his ability to manage the US economy should be questioned. The implications of Bush’s comments for the future of the global political and economic landscape are troubling. The very fact that he specifically mentions Middle Eastern nations is an intentional stab at some of America’s most important and necessary allies – Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. In an age when Anti-Western extremism is on the rise and reformers are losing popularity, the US needs to show its unequivocal support for such allies. Failing to do this will undermine our international relations, and feed critical countries to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. As the 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston once said, “Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.” Mr. Bush once again flagrantly displayed his utter ineptitude in dealing with a serious global issue. His Machiavellian attitude concerning American allies, treating them as if they are disposable and replaceable, are disturbing at best. The stability of the world is at stake, and once again, Mr. Bush has contributed to worsening an already dire situation.