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Carpe Diem! Killed bin Laden? Now kill oil …

May 2nd, 2011 · 1 Comment

In the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush had a moment to change history and turn America(ns) toward a more prosperous and secure future. Rather than seizing the day to announce a plan to end America’s oil addiction and ‘turn oil into salt’, President Bush called on Americans to go out and shop while promising that he would dedicate himself to tracking down bin Laden ‘dead or alive’.

Now that President Barack Obama has given substance to President Bush’s words, President Obama also has the opportunity to seize the day.

President Bush spoke of the need to end America’s ‘addiction to oil’. Mr President: Carpe Diem! Seize the day. Make a reality out of those words as well.

Now that you’ve killed off bin Laden, it is time to lead the way to kill off oil. As Glenn Horowitz so eloquently lay out over at Grist, bin Laden’s rise was fostered by our oil addiction (the wealth of his family and backers) and our oil addiction fostered conditions that gave his violent jihadist message greater power.

when it comes to stopping al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, or defunding repressive petro-state governments, Obama’s next big national security question is of a very different sort than the one he made to send forces into Abbottabad, but at least as consequential: It’s a decision whether to raise fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks to 47 or 62 miles per gallon, as outlined in a recent EPA proposal.

Ending America’s oil addiction is fundamental to American national security.

  • The economy would be strengthened by paring down and reversing the $100s of billions per year sent overseas to pay for imported oil. (Over $1 billion per day … the largest single component of America’s trade deficit.) Money sent overseas for oil could be spent more productively on American infrastructure (such as electrified rail) that would create jobs, here in America, while enabling competitiveness for tomorrow. A stronger economy means lower vulnerability to foreign actors (military or otherwise) while enabling support for U.S. national security requirements (military, police, economic aid, health care, food monitoring, etc …)
  • Reduced oil revenues would decrease the resources for supporting violent fundamentalists and would reduce the resources available for destabilizing regimes (such as Venezuela).
  • Reduced (ended) oil dependency would reduce the requirement to deploy U.S. military forces into the Middle East. After all, one can question whether Saddam Hussein would have invaded Kuwait and whether President George H.W. Bush would have sent 100,000s of Americans into harm’s way if Kuwait were a leading global producer of broccoli.
  • Reduced oil dependency would start to liberate the U.S. economy from the fossil-foolish buying of the American political system.
  • Reducing America’s oil addiction would improve core national security and improve the general welfare in numerous ways from health (reduced cancer, asthma, etc …) to environmental (such as reduced carbon dioxide emissions) to reduced vulnerability to societal disruption (due to natural or man-made disruption of our oil supplies).

As Glenn put it,

you might say that terrorists and dictators should be even more afraid of Priuses and bikeshares than drone attacks.

Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey has a plug-in Prius with a bumper sticker: “Osama bin Laden hates this car”. Guess he will have to change it to “hated this car”.

And, let us be clear: even with today’s distorted economic structure, there are a significant range of cost-effective paths to drive down U.S. (and global) oil demand at a rapid pace: increase the targeted mileage standards, electrify the nation’s rail system, require real-time dashboard feedback systems on all vehicles, require flex-fuel capacity on all vehicles, improve the nation’s bicycle infrastructure, etc … There is a five-percent solution

Mr. President. Carpe Diem to set American Free and kill off our oil addiction … turning oil into salt is the most important national security imperative.

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Tags: Energy · government energy policy · oil · politics

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