Addicted to Oil
America’s oil addiction is doing more than wrecking the environment and sending gasoline prices through the roof. Our government’s entire policy — foreign and domestic — has been contaminated by this addiction.
Our national security has been jeopardized, most of the world hates us, and our economy and environment are threatened by energy shortages. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has coined the term Petrolism.
Friedman says “The biggest threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism or Islamism. It’s petrolism.”
Petrolism is “the politics of using oil income to buy off one’s citizens with subsidies and government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one’s enemies, and using oil profits to build up one’s internal security forces and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks and balances.”
In “petrolist” countries — Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, you know who they are — the government doesn’t need to use the energy and innovation of its people. All it has to do is tap an oil well. The government has no incentive to build a competitive society or educational system. They control the oil tap; that’s all they need. Most likely that’s all they have.
Imagine Paris Hilton if she had her inheritance yanked away and she had to go out on job interviews. That’s the position most petrolist governments would be in if the world suddenly didn’t need their oil.
Friedman ridicules the fact that “a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence.” And the Islamic petrolist countries — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan — are strengthened and reinforced by our desperate, cowering need for their oil.
Dick Cheney scoffed at conservation and renewable energy sources as “a personal virtue” but not an energy policy. But according to Friedman, “being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation…is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do…It’s a national security imperative.”
Regarding the Iraqi war, Friedman says “a democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people.”
Friedman blasts our policy of “welfare-for-oil-companies” as “cowardly and un-American.” He sums it up with “real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green. Green is the new red, white and blue.”
cross-posted at Bring It On!