Monday, January 18, 2010

Should We Leave The Persian Gulf?

I tend to be hot and cold on the works of Thomas Friedman – he sometimes makes good points, but they’re rarely the revelations he portrays them to be. His latest column in the New York Times “What’s Our Sputnik?” though got me thinking.

In it Friedman questions America’s deep involvement in the Middle East – he argues that the money we are spending on anti-terrorism could be better spent in developing alternative sources of energy that would make us less dependent on the Mid East, meaning we could lessen our engagement with the region, which would in turn – he argues – would make us less a target for terrorists based, funded or inspired by sources in the region.

There is a certain logic to his argument, but it made me think of something else. In his column, Friedman notes that our two largest foreign suppliers of oil are Canada and Mexico. What he doesn’t say is that most estimates are by the middle of this new decade we find ourselves in the nations of Africa will surpass the countries of the Persian Gulf as suppliers of oil to America. So in my mind that begs the question: why should the United States keep dedicating so many of our resources to a region that in just five years will be a third-rate source of oil for us? China is talking about opening a naval base in the Persian Gulf; France is establishing one in the region as well. Maybe then it’s time to let some of the world’s other major oil importers share the burden of keeping stability in that part of the world?

Just a thought.
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