Blood Oil: Dependent on Foreign Energy
Our source of energy is ever more important in our globalized and industrialized world. There are many ways through which we can attain energy: natural gas, coal, hydroelectricity, and much more. For the past 50 years, the United States has relied heavily on oil from the Middle East, a region riddled with multifaceted conflicts. Politicians have cried that our intervention in the Middle East has been about spreading democracy, but this is an obvious lie. In order to maintain our way of life, politicians have realized that we need to protect our economic interests overseas and any threat to our source of energy would be a catalyst for intervention. Don't believe me? Well, let us look at the irony of the "spreading democracy" claim.
The United States intervened in Iran in 1953 after Iran's first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mosaddegh, started to nationalize Iran’s oil production. The CIA and MI6, British Secret Intelligence Service, intervened and got rid of Mosaddegh and reinstated an American-friendly dictator who violated countless human rights, a sanctity of democracy. Some historians have even argued that this coup contributed to the Iranian Revolution of 1979 because it contributed to anti-American sentiment and led to increased repression by the shah. In 2003, the United States toppled Saddam Hussein which subsequently lead to 14 years of continuous instability and the rise of insurgent groups like ISIS.
Saddam was a dictator, so by toppling him, the claim of "spreading democracy" is fulfilled. However, look at the countless countries that the US has not intervened in: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. All of these countries have countless reports of human rights violations. Saudi Arabia, in particular, restricts the rights of women. They have public whippings and beheadings, barbaric means of punishment. All of these countries are led by dictators with iron fists, not by democratically elected leaders. Where is the United States? Well, what can we do? These dictators protect American interests and as long as the United States relies on these countries for energy, the United States has its hands tied. If our politicians really wanted to spread democracy and intervene in the countries that protect American interests, it could potentially lead to instability or a leader who does not represent American interests.
The only way to solve this predicament is to take advantage of the abundant resources that we have at home. When we rely on ourselves, we will not be driven by other interests overseas. By taking away those dictators’ bargaining chips, we can actually pursue democratically-driven agendas. We have created problems in the Middle East that we are still trying to clean up to this day. It threatens us abroad and at home. By embracing independence, we see that it touches other aspects of life. We need to allow for the construction of more pipelines, start to invest in methods of renewable energy, and create competition at home and maybe we can even start to export energy, creating a whole new industry and a large source of revenue for the United States.
There are concerns about the environmental consequences of producing energy at home. This is a legitimate concern, but no matter where the energy comes from, it will have the same negative effects. If we produce at home, we can better regulate the industry and actually solve the environmental issue at the same time. We can give ourselves the power to invest in new, cleaner forms of energy.
Photo: An oil refinery in Mina-Al-Ahmadi, Kuwait. Credit Lokantha, Creative Commons.