America's successful assassination of Osama bin Laden, long overdue, naturally renews talk across the country about ending the nation's military involvement in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Coupled with the ongoing tumult unleashed by the Arab Spring, Washington is once again being encouraged to reconsider its strategic relationship with the troubled Middle East. The underlying current to this debate has always been the widely held perception that America's "oil addiction" tethers it to the unstable region. Achieve "energy independence," we are told, and America would free itself of this terrible burden.
The simplicity of that argument belies globalization's crosscutting interdependencies, which only grow more profound with each passing decade. There is simply no escaping the responsibility of helping the Arab world progressively integrate itself more fully with globalization in the years ahead. That process will inevitably create great instabilities whose only solution lies in the world's great powers accepting even greater interdependencies, both among themselves and with this dangerously conflicted region.
First, it bears noting that the United States is not directly dependent on Persian Gulf energy. America is its own No. 1 supplier of oil, and our immediate neighbors Canada and Mexico combine to constitute our No. 2 source. The Persian Gulf comes in fifth place, following third-place South America and fourth-place Africa.