Don't get me wrong, we depend on Cuba for good cigars, we depend on South America for bananas, we depend on Japan and Germany for most of our cars. But none of these things is irreplaceable. We can get all of these things from elsewhere, or we can learn to make them ourselves, or we can do without for a while. But not oil.
The US uses 20 million barrels of oil per day. That's oil, by the way, not gasoline which is refined from oil. About 12 million barrels of that is imported from outside of the US. That's not as bad as it sounds, since a fair amount of it comes from Canada, which can be annoying but is basically harmless. It's the amount that comes in from Venezuela and Iran that really worries me. Either country could throw a big monkey wrench into the US economy by disrupting their oil production. Fortunately they can't just stop selling to the US, oil is a world market so all the oil produced in a day goes out to all of the buyers in the world. If Hugo Chavez stops selling to the US, it simply means his oil will be bought by someone else, and the US will by the oil that the someone else didn't.
But neither Hugo Chavez nor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are sane and normally thinking persons. Both have indicated a willingness to see their own people suffer in order to harm the US. Ahmad in particular has threatened repeatedly to close the Persian Gulf if they feel threatened by the US or Europe. Although it's mostly an idle threat, since the US could win militarily, Iranian military action in the Gulf could disrupt the world oil supply and cause prices to spike way above where they are now. $200 a barrel anyone? $300 a barrel?
And so the US threats to impose sanctions on the Iranians over their nuclear program are in the end idle ones. If we push the Iranians too hard, they will react militarily in the Gulf. The results will hurt us much more than it will hurt them. And then there is Russia. Despite the hundreds of nuclear missiles they still have pointed at us, the greater danger they pose is not to declare war but to disrupt the world oil supply, which they can now thanks to their control of Georgia. Again, because of the world market approach to oil, any country that causes a disruption can pose a danger to the US.
So what is the solution to this problem? First you need to identify the problem. The problem isn't our dependence on oil, as much as the tree huggers would have you believe. The problem is our dependence on the world oil market. The solution is to drill for oil on US lands, which would mean that any disruption to the world oil market would be a problem for the rest of the world, but not us. The US has plenty of oil that we can drill, yet we are prevented in doing so by environmental groups.
In an interesting offshoot of this line of thought, I've been having quite a discussion, if you can call it that, with the folks at the lefty blog MNBlue. It's somewhat scary to see how evil they think corporate America is, and how stupid they think the US public is. The whole post and comments are linked below, it's worthwhile to see the way the other side thinks.
Alec is a reasonable guy, yet dead set against 'big oil'. Two Putt is anti everything that America stands for, yet he's a Nam vet so he gets a pass. Bill is, well he's Bill. Nuff said.
I may have mentioned here before, I have no interest in preaching to the choir. And I have no interest in being offensive to the other side of an issue. I find much more appeal in making a reasonable argument to those in the middle, the undecideds if you will, and convincing them that what I'm saying is true. Hopefully it makes a difference.