Alex Massie

The Absurdity of Energy Independence

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Of all the fatuous "debates" in Washington few can be as absurd or wearisome as the mantra, repeated by politicians of all parties, that it is time for the United States to wean itself off foreign oil and declare "energy independence". Writing about the discovery of oil in Ghana, Foreign Policy's Elizabeth Dickinson makes some fair points but, alas, also trots out a familiar refrain: "Wouldn't it be nice to buy oil from a country with a relatively clean record in human rights, governance, and economic management?"

You'd never think that last year just 18% of US oil imports came from the Persian Gulf would you? Or that a mere 46% of US imports came from OPEC states? You probably know that Canada is by far the biggest exporter of oil to the US, but did you know that Britain sold the US more oil in 2008 than Kuwait? Well we did.

Now in some sense it doesn't much matter where the oil comes from* and there are decent grounds for wanting to use less of the stuff. But the notion that US dollars spent on oil only go to an assortment of vile regimes around the world, none of whom wish the US well is a nonsense that naturally, being such, is widely believed. So, stop dissing Canada, right? And Mexico. And all the other countries that sell oil on the international market...

*Though of course Saudi Arabia can cause trouble for everyone by (further?) distorting global oil prices. But that's not, I think, quite the same thing.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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