Cheney In Saudiland, Don't Hold Abdullah's Hand!

Vice President Cheney is about to visit Saudi Arabia where he will be meeting with King Abdullah. Beware! No hand holding, please!

The last time Abdullah's hand was held was during his April 25, 2005 visit with President Bush at the Crawford Ranch. Then as now oil prices and supply will be an issue of discussion. At the time of the Crawford barbecue the price of oil hovered around $48 a barrel, breaching and near to levels that had never before been achieved in the oil market and nearly fifty percent above prices the year before. Whatever was said at the time, and in spite of the widely reproduced images of President Bush and the then Prince Abdullah holding hands in fraternal companionship, the net result bordered on the disastrous.

Abdullah left Texas reassured, with little concern that the already egregious price of oil had reached the limits of American tolerance. Within four months of Crawford the price of oil continued its aggressive spiral upwards reaching $65 a barrel, and this before Katrina's sweep, a staggering increase of some thirty five percent. Prices have hovered around these levels since the summer costing Americans who consume more than 20 million barrels of oil a day an additional $340 million in increased daily disbursements to the OPEC cartel and the bottom line of the oil industry.

Vice President Cheney in his discussions with the King might determine if Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cartel brethren can supply more oil to the marketplace to brake the fevered advance of crude oil prices. To put the current situation in proper context, the OPEC cartel, led by Saudi Arabia currently supplies less than 30 million barrels of oil a day to the world market.

In 1979, I repeat in 1979, the OPEC cartel pumped 31 million barrels per day. Today OPEC tells us that they are at the virtual limits their pumping capacity. The Vice President should be clear in his discussions that this claim, that the OPEC cartel/Saudi Arabia has not added any pumping capacity in more than a quarter of a century is either dubious or a willful constraint of production in order to manipulate price.

In any event, our Vice President should restrain himself, no matter his impulse, from walking hand in hand with King Abdullah. The last time this came to pass it cost us dearly. A similar percentage jump in prices from today's levels would cost us all an additional $440 millions a day. Vice President Cheney, hands in pockets, please!