While the United States depends on its ally, Canada, for 15 percent of its oil, it remains largely dependent on unstable countries for fuel consumption needs. In fact, the Middle East’s Persian Gulf is the richest oil province in the world, accounting for approximately 20 percent of U.S. oil imports.
Our continued reliance on foreign oil presents a serious problem: it jeopardizes U.S. national security. The $400 billion in yearly oil revenue gives countries the ability to establish policies that, according to The Council on U.S. Foreign Relations, “oppose U.S. interests and values.” By having this advantage, producer countries are free to ignore “U.S. policies and to pursue interests that are inimical to our national security.”
In an earlier blog, “Oil has two sharp edges,” I shared an old Arab proverb and explained how oil is unquestionably used as a weapon. Hostile dictators are aware that America, along with the entire world, is dependent on oil and those dictators aren’t afraid to use this “weapon” to sway policies.
This has been proven time and time again. In June 2006, Iran’s oil minister cautioned, “If the country’s interests are attacked, we will use all our capabilities, and oil is one of them.”
Perhaps more unsettling are the remarks of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “If the Americans make a wrong move toward Iran, the shipment of energy will definitely face danger, and the Americans would not be able to protect energy supply in the region.”
If the threat to our national security and our values is not enough, maybe the fact that supply disruptions drive up prices at the pump will trigger an emotion. Sure, one option is the use of military force to secure the free flow of oil in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. and its allies could fight and eventually defeat Iranian attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz. But taking this route will not only put the U.S. in yet another war and further cripple the economy, it will force Americans to send our troops (parents, children and friends) to faraway lands, with no way of knowing if they will return.
As an American, I demand more fuel choices so I can stop relying on foreign countries that use oil as a weapon to harm the country and the people I love. Expanding our fuel mix to include domestic sources such as ethanol, methanol and natural gas is a viable alternative that will encourage robust competition and innovation, ensuring the American people an affordable and stable supply of fuel for their transportation needs. Ultimately, this solution is one that allows us to keep our money, power and, most priceless possession, our people, in the U.S.+