Thursday, June 03, 2004

Another reason we'd be safer with Kerry in the White House

This week, columnist Thomas Oliphant explained the connection between oil and terrorism -- and described John Kerry's innovative plan to end the US petroleum habit. Highlights follow, but you need to read the whole thing.

For those who think Kerry thinks small, his determination to end nearly 40 years of dangerous dependence on imported oil from the Middle East is powerful refutation....For $20 billion a year or so, the United States is hooked on a substance as dangerous to its security as heroin. The two million barrels of oil we import from the Middle East every day does more than bleed our economy and produce periodic supply and price crises. It also gives clout to regimes (above all, Saudi Arabia) that continue to finance the fanaticism that is the other major, long-range incubator of terrorism.

Bush's Saudi pals will do their part to ease the current supply situation just enough to stop the price spiral and give the president something to crow about while he is running for reelection. Then, with the election behind him, the same, sad story will start all over again....

Kerry argues that, with the right mix of policies, the dependence can be eliminated in a decade, and that there is a bipartisan majority in Congress almost desperate to commit itself to this given real presidential leadership. Even before his presidential campaign began, Kerry and John McCain proposed a program to reverse the decline in fuel efficiency and raise the fleet average to 36 miles per gallon over the same decade.

Kerry has also made clear that the same political spirit can leave room for cleaner coal technologies and enhanced natural gas production. On top of that, he offers a crash program worthy of the term in order to boost production and use of renewables in electricity generation and move toward an automobile industry that promotes hydrogen over Hummers.

This kind of energy policy can produce a mature relationship with Saudi Arabia, one based on our interests and security instead of our dependence. The status quo, by contrast, only fuels the conditions that will continue to produce terrorists for decades.

Bush is well aware of the political power in Kerry's message. That is why, rather than respond to it, he blew several million dollars in campaign cash last month falsely claiming that Kerry favors higher gasoline taxes.

(Incidentally, Kerry's plan will create jobs, too.)


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