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January 9, 2020

Energy Independence Trumps Middle East Quagmires

America has quietly risen to become a net oil exporter. That’s huge for foreign policy.

Perhaps nothing better defines the current Democrat Party than its pursuit of unassailable power, irrespective of the damage it does to our nation.

To hear the the invectives being hurled at Present Donald Trump by the American Left regarding the death of Iranian terror master Gen. Qasem Soleimani, one might think Middle East chaos and the effort to undermine American interests — the same effort that precipitated 9/11 and two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — was something new. Yet it is not. And while there are a number of reasons why our nation has maintained a presence in a part of the world seemingly impervious to anything resembling genuine modernization, every American old enough to remember the gas lines and price shocks precipitated by 1973’s OPEC oil embargo knows that decades of energy dependence has forced us to accommodate some of the worst actors on the planet.

Thus, even in a time of extreme polarization, one might surmise energy independence would be one of our nation’s foremost bipartisan agendas. Yet during the eight years of the Obama administration, the Left’s obsession with global warming was all consuming. Even as limits of “green” technology remained well known, the former president and his administration conducted a war on coal, imposed strict anti-fracking regulations, and initiated rules regulating so-called greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants.

The administration also imposed a seven-year moratorium on offshore drilling in 2010, another moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean in 2016, took a schizophrenic approach to nuclear-power development (when it wasn’t busy giving uranium access to the Russians and uranium “thank you” gifts to the Iranians), killed the Keystone pipeline project that would have brought crude oil from Canada to America, imposed unrealistic fuel standards on vehicles, and signed America onto the 2016 Paris Agreement that remains a pipe dream of unmet goals.

And while all of the above was going on, the administration also lost billions of dollars in taxpayer funding on investments in one green energy boondoggle after another.

None of this ongoing effort to undermine conventional — and completely necessary — energy sources in favor of green-energy chimeras was surprising. In 2008, the former president announced his intentions to do exactly that. “If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” he stated.

In short, Obama’s agenda was either about crushing Americans with skyrocketing energy costs and/or fundamentally altering the American way of life, putting thousands of people out of work in the process. As for our nation’s relationship with the Middle East, Obama viewed it as something for which this nation owed contrition.

By contrast, Trump has put an end to the former administration’s environmental virtue-signaling. “In less than three years, this common-sense approach to energy policy has completely upended the national debate,” explains columnist Mandy Gunasekara. “Americans were once plagued by fears that our reliance on imported oil — much of it produced by countries that are explicitly hostile to our interests — would eventually jeopardize our economy and our national security. Now, that dependence is a thing of the past, and we’re actually in the process of overtaking Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil exporter.”

Columnist Onar Åm put it in even starker terms. “When the United States became a net oil exporter in November 2019, nearly 75 years of energy dependence on dubious regimes came to an end,” he writes. “It happened without buzz or fanfare, but the geopolitical consequences are earthshaking.”

Åm cites the shale-oil revolution as one of the primary reasons, noting that recently discovered massive oil reserves in Texas — reserves Ryan Flynn, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association executive director, asserts could meet decades of our nation’s energy needs — has the Lone Star state producing five million barrels per day, an amount topped only by Russia and Saudi Arabia.

America is also in the midst of a natural-gas boom, which will be further enhanced by Trump’s signing of two executive orders last April deregulating the industry.

That would be the same natural-gas industry that has allowed America to become the world’s leader in greenhouse-gas reductions and played a large hand in resuscitating our economy.

Other geopolitical consequences are just as important. Besides no longer having to kowtow to Persian Gulf nations that despise us, energy independence gives us newfound leverage with China, which depends heavily on Iranian oil imports, largely delivered via the same the Strait of Hormuz Iran vows to block if it doesn’t get its way. Yet if America engendered a blockade, we could precipitate worldwide oil shortages and price shocks, with little to no domestic downside.

Democrats? The same party that assailed the Bush administration for engaging in unwinnable wars, drew fatuous red lines in Syria, fought an unauthorized war of their own in Libya and put the Iranians on a self-admitted path to nuclear weapons, now has a rather confusing philosophy regarding international conflict, because much of it aligns with Trump’s stated desire to militarily disengage from Middle East sinkholes — even as hating Trump remains a party requirement.

What’s not confusing? “In recent years, the Democratic Party has become predictable: Anything that strengthens America, they oppose,” Åm asserts. “Anything that weakens it, they cheer. Naturally, then, many of the top tier Democratic presidential candidates want to ban fracking. They have cheered the Green New Deal, which would reverse all the gains made in the last decade and would make America weak again, and once more put it in the claws of other countries.”

Victor Davis Hanson paints an even clearer picture. “Middle Easterners ignore that three generations of Americans have become exhausted by their antics in the Middle East, by the Iranian hostage debacle, 9/11, the oil embargoes, the anti-Semitic hatred of Israel, the costly interventions, and the hysterics that seem to characterize the region,” he writes. “Americans don’t see why any of their children should be killed or be maimed there.”

Energy independence is the key to relieving that exhaustion. Moreover, it will enable Americans to find the right balance between avoiding future quagmires, extracting ourselves from the present ones, and maintaining U.S. deterrence on the strongest possible terms — combined with the lightest footprint possible. And while some environmental concerns are wholly legitimate, national security cannot and must not be held hostage to them.

Some realities are intractable. Enduring Middle East chaos is one of them. Enduring American military presence in the region, largely engendered by energy dependency, is not.

Anyone still remember when “No war for oil!” was a Democrat Party talking point? Due in large part to their reflexive hatred of the current president, coupled with their religious-like attachment to wholly unfeasible environmentalist “solutions” … neither do they.

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