The events in the Middle East are a stunning reminder that we live in interesting and dangerous times. The Middle East has always been unpredictable, volatile and sometimes hostile place but our dependence upon oil imports has forced America to do business with some unsavory characters. Our only consistently reliable ally is also the only democracy in the neighborhood. So if America is worried about its strategic interests in the Middle East you can image the anxiety in Jerusalem.
One look at Figure 1 above from the US Energy Information Administration describing the sources of much of the world’s conventional oil drives home the point much better than my next one-thousand words about why we need a national energy strategy that protects our strategic national interest now more than ever.
While the youthful enthusiasm of protesters in Cairo, Bahrain, Tunisia, Jordan, Libya and elsewhere offer the promise of a better life, more freedom and democracy in the region such an outcome is not a sure thing. Filling our gas tanks at prices we can afford and keeping our economy on track for recovery are as important as these events in the Middle East.
We know how to fix this, but it requires determination and a willingness to break with past and current policies that don’t serve our strategic interests.
There can be good news in these changes as well as heartburn. Do we really need to use all that oil to ship raw materials and finished goods around the world several times? Could we save oil, bring home jobs and keep more of our money by changing our tax code and regulations to build more of what we need right here at home?
This is just one more wake-up call that we need to realign our spending, tax code and regulations with our strategic priorities if we’re going get America’s mojo back.