Getting Real About U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil

Getting Real About U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil

The United States, the world's largest oil consumer, is getting uneasy about its steadily increasing dependence on imported petroleum. A question increasingly being asked is whether the U.S. oil habit is sustainable any longer. Not only Democrats and conservationists have posed this question, but also neoconservative advocates and their Republican allies in Congress, who aim to weaken U.S. ties with Middle East petro-states such as Saudi Arabia.

President George W. Bush has talked about the link between American oil consumption and national security. In his 2006 State of the Union address he said "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." He then pledged to make U.S. dependence on Middle East oil a "thing of the past."

The fact that 15 of the 19 September 11, 2001, hijackers were from Saudi Arabia placed the most serious strain to date on the Washington-Riyadh relationship, one that has been crucial to U.S. strategic interests in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Some of these strains have since been eased, but a groundswell of new thinking about the relationship from the Republican president's own political base has emerged. The argument is that growing U.S. dependence on imported oil bankrolls regimes that do not serve America's interests, and the terrorist causes that these hostile states finance. "We are paying them to kill us," Frank Gaffney, head of the Washington-based neoconservative think tank the Centre for Security Policy, has claimed.

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