I have long believed that our dependence on petroleum for our industry and economy has forced the United States into damaging positions in international affairs. Certainly, our current adventure in Iraq has other reasons to justify it. But would we truly have been concerned with Hussein’s genocidal tyranny if we didn’t need cheap Iraqi oil to fuel our cars and factories? Our record in Africa suggests that we would not. And while I suspect that nothing less than the conversion of the United States government to an Islamic theocracy would truly satisfy Bin Laden, I also know that if we were not so intimately involved in the Middle East, much of his, Al Qaida’s, and other “Islamic” terrorists’ venom would be directed elsewhere.
The current nuclear crisis in Iran, however, truly shows just how much the power of oil corrupts. We all know that the only country to feel the full horrifying effect of nuclear weapons is Japan. As a result, their national identity, public opinion, and government policy includes a massive horror at the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the world. Despite this, the response from Japan regarding Iran’s apparent intent to produce the materials needed for their own atomic bomb has been mild at best. Why? As this article in the L.A. Times reports, 16% of Japan’s energy imports come from Iran. They cannot afford to make an enemy of such a major oil supplier…and as a result, they are forced to betray their own beliefs.
There’s only one possible answer, for Japan and for us. We need to develop alternate energy sources, not only to cover the growing demand, not only because the oil supply is limited and will someday run out, but to free us from the oil umbilical that forces us to meddle in countries that hate us. Where’s Daniel Shipstone when we need him?
If you didn’t get that last sentence, read Friday by Heinlein. Then read everything else he ever wrote – it’s worth your time.