Thinking About Oil? Try This!

The NYT reports no-bid deals for American oil companies in Iraq. Are we there yet? Now can we come home? Well, maybe. In the meantime, gas is soooooooo expensive!

It really is. We blame the price on growing world demand -- you know, China and India. We blame our own policies of being green or not green enough (no nuclear plants or gas refineries or wind farms in my backyard, our desire for big cars, or personal laziness.) The autarkic Lou Dobbs blames it on the fact that we import oil -- he'd have us produce it all at home, and trade with no one. Politicians blame high gas prices on either our friends who won't pump it out fast enough or our enemies who, in resisting our advances, have created a high security premium on every barrel. Of course, we could follow the lead of Congress and the presidential candidates, and blame greedy oil executives who enrich themselves as good people suffer.

The US military uses 340,000 barrels of oil a day. This makes the DoD the 34th largest consumer of oil in the world, and the American taxpayers (with promises to Chinese and other overseas bankers) pay for it. Adding insult to injury, we note that the US government generally pays above market prices for its needed petroleum products. Of course, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was planned and executed there (and not in some other little crappy country) in part because it offered, with the right suasion, no bid contracts of the type we read about today.

Americans and the media both err when they demand to know how a U.S. president will solve our ongoing energy crisis. Constitutionally speaking, about the only thing a president could legally and responsibly do for the energy crisis is bring the troops home. From this, no-bid contracts evaporate, and competitive production and marketing ensue in Iraq and her oil-producing neighbors. From this, international terrorism directed towards Americans transforms overnight to the odd crime rather than a political touchstone. From this, our domestic economy reorients from bombs, bullets and armored humvees to a more intelligent use of our talent, our youth, and our innovation. From this, Congress no longer fears being called traitors for not supporting the American empire, and starts listening to the millions of good ideas out there for more and better energy solutions.

We can wait another decade and do this in a poorer, more miserable, and frustrated domestic environment because we have to -- or we can do it now. John and Barack, are you listening?