Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Get Off Your Gas and Let's Kick the Oil Habit:

The threat of US dependence on foreign oil to our national security.

Currently, the United States spends around $1 billion dollars every day importing oil from abroad, increasing the national deficit and supporting unstable and potentially dangerous states. The reliance of the United States on foreign oil has very serious economic and militaristic implications, making it a portentous threat to United States' national security.

A recent report on the 2009 trade deficit in the United States found that increasing petroleum imports are steadily broadening the gap between our imports and exports, further augmenting our deficit. Recently, the US Census Bureau reported the United States' annual oil debt at $386 billion, significantly greater than even our debt owed to China ($266 billion). By reducing the United States' addiction to foreign oil, a significant portion of the national debt could be drastically reduced, which would help to repair the current budget deficit.

Additionally, United States imports oil from ten states currently on the State Department's Travel Warning List, all of which are described as having “long-term, protracted conditions that make [them] dangerous or unstable.” These states include, Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. In 2008, the United States imported approximately $150 billion dollars worth of oil from these “dangerous or unstable” countries, including Venezuela, which although is not on State Department's Travel Warning List, exhibits a distinct anti-American foreign policy. Because the United States has one of the world's highest oil demands, consuming around 23% of the world's annual petroleum production, the US drives up the price of oil, financing and sustaining unfriendly governments. Therefore, although the United States does not buy directly from numerous unfriendly states, such as Iran, these inimical states still benefit from the increased oil prices regardless of who the end buyer is. These unfriendly regimes, which the US purchases oil from and funds indirectly by increasing the value of oil, could become potentially dangerous to the security of the United States because of the steady economic support they are gaining, which allows hostile states the opportunity to increase their military spending, putting our own troops at greater risk.


  1. I do agree with you that our dependence on oil is one of the biggest reasons we continue to run a deficit, I find myself wondering about some of the specifics you put forth about the dependence.

    It is indisputable that we receive a large amount of oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries that are currently listed on the State Department's Travel Warning List, though I saw nothing in your commentary about the top two importers of foreign oil today, Canada and Mexico. Canada certainly is not dangerous to travel to and removing my personal bias, Mexico contains certain internal problems that do affect Americans traveling and living there, but if Americans are safe and conscious when abroad in Mexico, they can still continue to enjoy themselves. In essence, what I am trying to show is that the status of the country on the State Department's travel list shouldn't decide where we import oil.

    According to statistics produced by the US Energy Information Administration, we are currently able to rely on the domestic production of oil as produced in 2009. However, the majority of the oil produced domestically is sent overseas. While I absolutely support a move to decrease dependence on foreign oil, the current political and economic climates seem too volatile to upset the balance of oil trading today. In the future, it must be done. I think that we are currently in a situation where there is too much on the world's plate and we need to figure out where to go from here. Reducing the budget is an important step, but there are many other ways to reduce a budget without eliminating $365 billion in spending overnight.

    Your comment about the increasing economic dependence other countries receive when we purchase their oil is interesting. While I agree that the funding of terrorism, directly or indirectly, is abhorrent, there are no clear facts about where the money sent to countries that questionably harbor terrorists goes.

    I also must add that I can’t find anywhere in the FY 2010 budget about the expenditure by any department in the United States on gasoline. Maybe I’m not looking deep enough, but it doesn’t seem too apparent on the surface of the budget report. It may be a subcategory in the discretionary spending budgets of each department, but if that is the case I’d like to see some more substantive documentation of the spending on foreign oil by the US government.

    Check this poster out I found about the budget of the US. On a more personal level, I’m thinking about getting it for our room.


    Department of State's Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia:http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_932.html

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