The only candidate with an Energy Security policy

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election, Environment, Foreign Policy, Iraq | Posted at: Friday, 28 December 2007

The news out of Pakistan isn’t good this morning. Besieged simultaneously by militant Islamicists and by middle class calls for democratic reforms, Musharraf has been walking a tightrope without a net ever since he took power in a coup. I don’t pretend to know even a fraction of the intricacies within the country, but what I do know is that America absolutely needed a stable and friendly Pakistan for two very important reasons:

The first is obvious. Pakistan has the bomb. The consequences are horrific if the country splinters and control of its nuclear arsenal is lost.

The second reason is geographic. Look at a map of Afghanistan and tell me how you would propose that America fight Al Qaeda there without the aid of Pakistan? There are only three ways into the landlocked Asian country: through Pakistan, through Iran, or over a very long route through Russia and the former Soviet Stans. If, as the Democratic rhetoric goes, Afghanistan is a more important fight than Iraq, then securing the assistance of a stable Pakistan is a necessary precondition.

I don’t know how quickly the situation in Pakistan will stabilize or deteriorate. Nor do I know how quickly the situation there will translate to the American electorate here. But what I do know translates well is an overall disgust with having to even concern ourselves with that part of the world.

The reason why we are in the Middle East is oil. And the reason why rogue Middle Eastern madman are internationally dangerous is the money they get from oil. The economic simplistics say that we just need to stop using oil and the foreign policy simplistics tell us that we just need to disengage entirely from that part of the world. Neither group ever offers a viable path to accomplishing their goals, but in the end both are right.

In a response to a commenter on an earlier thread I bemoaned the fact that the biggest rationale offered for reducing American oil consumption is global warming. At best GW fears are overstated. At worst it is total bunk. That the environmental movement has pinned its entire raison d’etre on global warming is ludicrous. If GW goes away as a viable theory (I’m predicting that it soon will), so too will the only accepted justification for weaning America from oil, the revenue from which makes possible the destabilizing regimes in the Middle East.

This is an area of failure for President Bush. I remember arguing to a colleague just a few days after 9-11 that three things were going to happen: We would build nuclear power plants again, we would immediately drill ANWR, and we would immediately raise CAFE standards. I was wrong on all three counts. I’m as small government, and laissez-faire capitalist as they come, but getting America off of our foreign oil diet should have been a national defense priority beginning September 12th. We’ve lost six years arguing about global warming instead.

Bhutto’s assassination is an opportunity to bring this domestic argument to the fore. We must elminate our dependence on foreign oil, but we can’t do that in the simplistic way that Democrats offer, which is to just set carbon consumption goals, spend billions of taxpayer dollars, and wish the problem away. And we must extricate ourselves from the Middle East, but not in the Paul-Kucinich way, which is to simply pretend that we have no foreign policy interest there even while we enjoy a huge economic benefit from the oil we use from the region.

Only one such candidate recognizes this reality. It is evident in how he frames the issue on his webpage. He doesn’t call it “Environment” or “Global Warming” or “Energy Policy”. Instead it is Energy Security. And that candidate’s name is Fred Thompson.

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9 Responses to “The only candidate with an Energy Security policy”

  1. Freddie O'Connell Says:

    Tom Vilsack, the first legitimate Democratic candidate to bow out, had an Energy Security plan. In fact, he wanted to repurpose the Department of Energy as a department of energy security. He’s now backing Hillary. If she wins (which would, in my book, be an unqualified disaster for the country as a whole), look for him as a potential VP. No matter how unexcited I am at the prospect of another Clinton presidency, Vilsack’s urging might foster incorporation of this notion in the White House.

    Ed:I hope that the first legitimate Republican candidate to bow out isn’t also one who has an Energy Security plan.

  2. Volunteer Voters » Fossil Fuel For Thought On The Linkage Between Energy And National Security Policy Says:

    [...] Bob Krumm believes we need to decrease our dependence on oil but not for reason oft cited on the left. For Krumm it is not about the environment, it is about making the goldmines the Islamists are sitting on in the Middle East not worth the sand piled on top of them: The reason why we are in the Middle East is oil. And the reason why rogue Middle Eastern madman are internationally dangerous is the money they get from oil. The economic simplistics say that we just need to stop using oil and the foreign policy simplistics tell us that we just need to disengage entirely from that part of the world. Neither group ever offers a viable path to accomplishing their goals, but in the end both are right. [...]

  3. joe lance Says:

    Maybe he doesn’t bestow on it an “Energy Security” label, but I think that Barack Obama understands the seriousness with which we need to address this.

    See also my comment over at ACK’s place.

  4. bob Says:

    Joe,
    I’ll grant you that Obama at least discusses security, but you have to hunt for it like you’re looking for the mention of party affiliation when the Associated Press breaks news of a scandal involving a Democrat. It’s not until the third paragraph–after first dwelling on the cost and (ugh!) global warming–that Obama does mention security. Perhaps he just knows his base and that’s why he gives security such short shrift, in which case I applaud Obama for even mentioning it at all.

  5. nedwilliams Says:

    Well, Obama wouldn’t want to be guilty of fear-mongering about energy policy, would he?

  6. Sean Braisted Says:

    Bob,

    Here is the deal. Democrats support environmentalism for the sake of environmentalism…Republicans need to be coaxed into supporting environmentalist causes; therefore if it is sold as part of the War on Terrorism, they are more inclined to support regulations and Government actions than if it is sold as helping society as a whole; something the GOP has long since abandoned.

    So yes, Barack Obama does not focus solely on the issue of “Energy Security” as does the webmaster at fred08.com…but that is because he doesn’t need to. Fred does because if he tries to sell the notion that Government should be in the business of protecting its citizens from anything other than brown people; he loses votes in the GOP primary.

  7. Lee Says:

    “Democrats support environmentalism for the sake of environmentalism…”

    That’s a silly reason to support anything: Support x just because x is good?

    As opposed to: Support x because x will [save money, make us more secure, cure baldness, etc.]

    It implies a snobbish attitue that a cause is so manifestly good that no real effort needs to be made to convince those who may be skeptic of serious concrete benefits.

  8. Vol Abroad Says:

    NO, – look I know for Tennessee I qualify as librul. But I’m a global warming skeptic (not skeptical about recent warming trends, just about how long they’ll last or how much control we have over that) AND I would classify myself as “concerned about the environment”. Despite Lee saying it’s a silly reason – I reckon there is an intrinsic value to the “environment” – but better yet I’d like to protect it because we live in it. Healthy planet, healthy humans. And like it or not, there are effects other than GW on human health and the environment from using fossil fuels.

    Just as Bob says there is a real and valid national security reason to reduce demand for oil (we’re not the only consumers so Mid-East production will always have buyers) and to reduce US and European dependency on politically dubious source countries (i.e. Russia). This isn’t some kind of plot to convert us all to global warming.

    But also – I’m sick of all this cult of consumerism. I like stuff as much as the next person, but we don’t need it. And yes, I do want a nice house and if I move back to the US, you can be darn sure I’ll have more square footage than my tiny wee London house can boast right now – but you don’t need a ma-jillion square foot mcmansion to heat up hot and cool down cold and rattle around in.

    And I know I’m going to sound like a snobbish European now, but each time I go back to the US I am shocked, yes, shocked by the more, more, more, me, me, me conspicuous consumption culture. We could all put on an extra sweater as Jimmy Carter asked us to do way back when.

  9. Fautor Says:

    Democrats seem possessed of the cognitive response of a Helmholtz resonator.