When a president wraps his energy policy in the mantle of national security, it’s a sure sign that he has a bad energy policy.
Concern about energy imports often goes hand in hand with feelings of insecurity and economic vulnerability. Similarly, a president’s rhetorical linkage of energy policy to national security is an indicator of lack of confidence in America’s global power. In a speech in March lauding his Energy Security Trust, a proposal to transfer offshore-drilling profits to a green-energy research fund, President Obama hewed to this formula and invoked national security, citing the support of General Paul Kelley, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, for his idea. In so doing, he was invoking the same rationale that had supported Jimmy Carter’s war against oil imports and George W. Bush’s push for biofuels (which, incidentally, helped propel food prices higher around the world and led to rioting across the Middle East). All three were following in the footsteps of Richard Nixon’s Project Independence, which was announced in November 1973 in response to the Arab oil embargo and failed to achieve any of the objectives Nixon had set for it.