It seems like one of the big buzzwords that we will hear on both sides of the aisle this campaign season is “energy independence.”
Thomas P.M. Barnett – whose weekly interviews with Hugh Hewitt I’m enjoying tremendously – puts this into perspective. (This piece is actually from about a year ago, around the time of the Dubai Ports World controversy but it came to my attention recently.)
And if we’re seeing connectivity result that otherwise would not be there, then I say we choose investment over fear. Do I want Dubai to become a Hong Kong/Singapore of the Middle East? Sure. Because I want the Middle East to connect up to the world. In fact, that’s the whole purpose behind our Big Bang strategy of toppling Saddam: connecting the Middle East up to the global economy faster than the jihadists can disconnect it.
The Al Qaedaists of the Middle East know damn well what they’re doing: they want to sabotage the regions’ economies, disconnecting them from the world, and reap the whirlwind of social distress. Thus we should expect more attacks on port and energy facilities like the one that targeted the Abqaiq facility recently.
I know that some op-ed strategists want to play that game as well, arguing we should cut the global economy off from the Middle East by denying ourselves its oil as quickly as possible, but I argue for just the opposite approach. I want shared economic and strategic interests, not some rapid-fire economic divorce.
If the U.S. were to find a supply of oil somewhere in Texas that suddenly meant that we didn’t need to import another drop from the Middle East, would this country say to the House of Saud, to the Kuwaiti royal family, the Gulf states and every other oil-rich semi-friendly nation to go to heck? Are we really eager to bring economic ruin to the few wealthy and more stable states in the region, and would we really tell the entire Middle East, “well, we don’t need your oil anymore, you’re on your own”?
These isolationist dreams seem really attractive for a few moments – until we contemplate a bin Laden-type taking over Saudi Arabia and controling Mecca and Medina, and a whole slew of Taliban-style states taking over in the aftermath of the economic collapse. The United States is intertwined in the Middle East, and all the investment ethanol, renewables, and hybrids in the world aren’t going to change that.