Guzzling gas may threaten our national security : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Guzzling gas may threaten our national security

Michael C. Herron, Assistant professor, Political Science, Northwestern University Published November 4, 2001

Evanston -- There are two reasons that the United States is entangled in Middle Eastern politics: Israel and oil. With respect to the former, there is little that individual Americans can do to soothe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As long as the United States considers Israel its ally, and as long as Jews and Arabs fight over the status of Jerusalem and right of Israel to exist, we will be drawn into Middle Eastern conflict regardless of our intentions.

Regarding oil, though, the situation is reversed. Individual Americans can do a tremendous amount to reduce our collective dependence on Middle Eastern oil and, thereby, free American foreign policy from the tentacles of dictatorships that are hostile to American interests.

How can we Americans do this? The answer is simple: drastically reduce purchases of gasoline.

What all Americans need to realize is this: Practically every gallon of gasoline purchased in this country contributes to U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern states and, in particular, to a reliance on Saudi Arabia, a dictatorship with dubious support for the war on terrorism. Here is another perspective: big cars, big trucks and inefficient engines are all national security problems, not just environmental concerns, because their use binds us to oil-producing states.

Regardless of one's belief about the relationship between automobile fuel economy and global warming, there is simply no question that an American consumer's purchasing of gasoline harms the ability of the U.S. to conduct its foreign policy in a way that best protects American interests.

U.S. soldiers are putting their lives at risk in Afghanistan, to say nothing of firefighters and government employees in post offices and federal buildings across the country. In light of the sacrifices made by so many individuals, all Americans have an obligation to purchase fuel-efficient automobiles, start using public transportation and stop buying so much gasoline.

In addition, our political leaders, national and otherwise, need to start preaching the value of energy conservation and make it clear why conservation is a national security issue. We are being told by Washington officials to spend money in order to sustain our economy. But we should also be told to walk, take public transportation or ride a bicycle.

Our public institutions also have an important role to play in the battle for energy conservation. Companies and other places of employment could slowly but severely ratchet up the cost of commuting by car. For example, Northwestern University, where I work, could increase fees for parking spaces. Over time, this will cause university employees to substitute other forms of transportation for the single-occupant car.

Sept. 11 and its aftermath have highlighted a serious vulnerability for our country, a vulnerability on par with that of a weak army or deficient navy. Until American consumers learn to conserve energy and curtail their gasoline purchases, our safety will be dependent on Middle Eastern dictators who, I imagine, have lost very little sleep over the Americans killed since the war on terrorism began.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 04, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ